SoundDogs: Online Library and Store for 700 000+ Sound Effects

A full-featured, Java-based e-commerce system for sound professionals

Project Background

Back in 1996 our American client, Rob, founded a huge online sound effects library that also contains production music, samples, and loops. Rob started his business long before iTunes appeared, and he is still riding high.

Rob recently discovered Sibers during his search for IT specialists skilled in Java technologies who could develop his library’s new Java-based version. Since Java is rarely used today, there were only eight outsourcing providers who possessed the requisite skills to help the client. Rob chose Sibers as his partner.

To test our processes and work quality, Rob gave us a small task involving a bug fix. Sibers’ team had to fix a custom-built waveform audio player which for some reason wasn’t launching on iOS in a Safari browser. We successfully completed Rob’s test and have been working with him ever since. Best of all, the library’s new online service is rife with visitors.

Solution

Possessing considerable volume and a complicated architecture, the sound library’s code was passed from one outsourcing provider to another at least four times before we received it. Such a situation may occur for several reasons: 1) Working with an individual, especially a young freelancer, is always a risk since they can appear and disappear unexpectedly; 2) During a large project, various misunderstandings may accumulate as time goes by and remain unsolved; 3) The initial provider(s) may not have been able to execute the project to the client’s specifications.

Rob dealt with each of these situations before giving the code to Sibers. That’s why our first task was to investigate the code and essentially finish what someone else had started.

Once we deployed the system, it didn’t take long to discover the waveform player’s problem. As it turns out, a 64-bit Java support in Safari on iOS simply didn’t exist at that moment for the client’s 64-bit version of the Java-applet player. With this problem solved, the client then asked us to provide remote assistance with the library’s local Winchester disks’ crash, which happened suddenly and became an urgent problem. After Sibers successfully tackled this issue, Rob desired to cooperate further.

When the library came to us, its new Java-based version was partially developed, but we had to build at least half of its functionality from scratch. For example, Sibers developed a highly automated audio uploader so that the uploading process now requires minimum human participation. For instance, the administrator/content manager can start uploading 100 GB of sounds into the library and leave it for several days. If for some technical reason the uploading process stalls, the page is automatically reloaded and the uploading process starts from the moment it was interrupted.

We also had to remedy an issue that every audio files business deals with: proprietary sounds and music theft. Sibers developed algorithms for creating compressed and noisy copies of the high-quality originals. Before purchasing, users can only access these low quality copies. After the purchase a user can, with the use of the waveform Java applet player, remove a part of the track and pay only for what he really needs.

Tech highlights

  • Java EE
  • EJB
  • Apache Camel (Enterprise Message Bus)
  • Spring
  • Struts
  • Mockito
  • Arquillian
  • Jboss
  • Hibernate
  • Selenium
  • Gson
  • Jetty
  • JSF
  • Knockout.js
  • ASP.NET
  • Classic ASP
  • VBScript
  • MS SQL
  • VB6
  • ActiveX
  • PayPal API
  • Payware

Results

The updated sound effects library is now available for users. The new functionality is a real time-saver for Rob, allowing him to concentrate on the core part of his business — travelling the world and recording unique sounds. Also, users can easily search, select, and edit in order to find the audio pieces they need.

During this project we learned an important lesson: there are, generally speaking, two types of clients, and they prefer two different communication styles with their IT outsourcing partner. The first type prefers to be involved with every development step, while the second gives their outsourcing provider free reign over product management. Rob falls into the second group. Once we understood this, we swapped project managers, opting for someone who had more experience with clients like Rob, and our collaboration moved along effortlessly. Just as there are two different client types, there are also two different project manager types: good administrators, who meticulously fulfill every client-dictated task and provide regular, detailed reports; and good project managers, who meet the client’s expectations autonomously and make many decisions themselves. When a client and a project manager complement each other, as was the case on this job, the results are fantastic!

Customer Says

We are very satisfied with Sibers work! (December 2013)

Rob Nokes — President and Founder at Sounddogs.com, Inc.

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