Where does News go from here?

The ‘stack’ or rather the ‘circuit’ of GraphQL, Elasticsearch, React Native and Firebase offers new ways of working for news orgs everywhere. It’s about making things movable and bendy and accessible to everyone (not just the dev team).

This post originally appeared on the News With Friends blog here. #

First, let’s talk about data.

We’ve been playing with GraphQL as a front end to Elasticsearch the last year or so. All I can say is “wow”. The kinds of questions I’ve been able to ask and the wonderfully convenient data formats that come back have really opened my eyes. #

We could build a REST API endpoint that answers my question, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to ask. GraphQL lets me keep asking in different ways until the data flowed the way I wanted it to. #

That leads to the next piece of interesting tech — React Native.

After experiencing the mobile app development process a few times in the past I was concerned about what it would take to do a new app. I was wrong to worry. #

Another great tool that news orgs should consider is Firebase.

Firebase does a lot of different things. What we found particularly helpful was the combination of user authentication, messaging, cloud functions and data synchronisation through one system. It makes it easy to connect people and help them communicate with each other in the app. #

The technology available now has a new shape to it.

We used to call things like this collection of services a stack — GraphQL on top of Elasticsearch behind a React Native front end engaging people through Firebase-powered interactions. “Stack” might still work to define that, but the effects of the combinations of those systems are much less vertical or hierarchical than previous stacks like LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP). #

So, what does all this mean for news orgs?

When GitHub came along a lot of devs working in news orgs were inspired by social version control and began thinking about editorial workflow systems a little differently. Contributoria and later Publish.org were partially GitHub-inspired. There were some interesting journalism projects checking for diffs on published documents, too. GitHub inspired different ways of working and operating. #