2000 started with a Big Bang as the Octopus Newsroom team joined the global new-millennium celebrations.

We had anticipated and successfully resolved the Y2K issue which had been predicted to affect computer networks around the world. The overall effect of Y2K was to make software developers more vigilant than ever in the quality and long-term durability of their work. The Octopus approach from the outset was that we would produce the most bug-free possible products, backed by fast online updates. Most of our early customers were using Windows-based PCs, so this was the logical platform for Octopus through the early HTML versions. Development progressed at a fast pace with new features and ever greater system robustness.

“Version 1 was essentially a prototype never really used in production,” says Octopus Newsroom’s Senior Developer Martin Nedbal. “With Version 2, which was implemented successfully at TV Nova, we achieved the stability and capabilities we had set as targets. Version 2 had rundown written in Java. This was progressed during 2000 into Version 3, but Version 3 with the entire user interface constructed in HTML and using AJAX to get the data. AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a set of web development techniques using many web technologies on the client side to create asynchronous web applications.

The product itself was built on recent technologies at that time, but our aim was to develop along lines that ensured easier operation with a powerful and efficient database, robust client-server architecture, efficient content storage and compatibility with the latest-generation operating system. Third-party newsroom products had been running on outdated operating systems such as DOS and various version of UNIX. Web-based client applications were essentially a new concept.

We had our own software which ingested live video feeds via an Osprey capture card in the server and then streamed across the newsroom network. Another card converted broadcast-quality source files into low-resolution proxy files which could be networked quickly as browser-quality thumbnails. The year 2000 was very significant for Octopus as many decisions made then would ultimately define the company’s long-term vision”.

Customers who signed-up with us in the year 2000 included TV Luna, a privately-owned Slovak channel. Octopus Version 3 introduced MOS compatibility which the development team recognised as an essential element both then and for the future. Easy connectivity with third-party products was high on every broadcaster’s wish list. Some NRCS vendors tried (and indeed still do) to force their customers to invest in specific brands simply to make their NRCS interfacing easier. Octopus re-searched this aspect of the business and identified a strong preference for the MOS open communications protocol that offered complete freedom and flexibility, revolutionising the NRCS industry.

MOS may sound like just another engineering term, but it is one of the most useful developments in the entire history of newsroom computing. MOS gives newsroom computer system users the ability to integrate with third-party systems offering features such as graphics, commercials-scheduling, playout, MAM, prompters and traffic-handling. Newsroom managers thus retain a high level of freedom to decide when and where they purchase production, post-production and data storage equipment. Careful design and coordination allow all essential newsroom tasks to be handled from a single workstation rather than having to clutter desks with multiple monitors and keyboards. MOS-standardised metadata exchange between these devices also allows fast content searching and seamless control across an entire production network.

Thanks to MOS, for Octopus Newsroom from the year 2000 onward, Open really would mean Open. Stay tuned, Octopus will be sharing more blog stories of our journey for each year since we were founded in 1999.

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