Miami, FL. October 19, 2020 - New changes were made to El Pitazo mobile app and we’re excited to tell you all about it. El Pitazo is one of Venezuela's main independent news websites, so we talked to a crucial member of the development team in charge of building this software product to have better insights into the project.
The name "pitazo" refers to the colloquial notion of reporting irregularities, therefore the news agency intends to be an informative platform where irregularities aren't swept under the rug. The main goal of the project consisted of creating a software solution that would give users the possibility of having up-to-date news available in the palm of their hands with no restrictions.
BLOCKING OF THE WEBSITE
Since 2018, El Pitazo.com has been blocked on multiple occasions by different internet service providers and this action occurs without any notification from the National Commission of Telecommunications
(Conatel) or the provider companies about the restriction, in violation of the rights to freedom of expression and information established in Article 58 of the Venezuelan Constitution
Last year when Cesar Batiz
, director of El Pitazo, was asked in an
interview about the constant blockages
, he said to the Caracas Chronicles
: "I can guess, but I have no certainty with this lack of answers"...
posted the independent news and analysis organization. And despite numerous efforts to bring information to Venezuelans, even after constant changes in domains and platforms, their website is still restricted throughout the territory.
El Pitazo and Cobuild Lab joined forces to build a software solution to keep Venezuelans well informed
El Pitazo’s audience is segmented into Venezuelans living in the country, Venezuelans living abroad, and foreigners interested in the news related to this country. So when they contacted Angel Lacret
, Chief of Product Development of Cobuild Lab to transform this idea into a software product
we put together a team of the best developers, QA Analysts, and a Project Manager to create a roadmap to find the most suitable solution for the project.
“Due to restrictions in the country were carried through the domain as well as through the IP address, it was virtually impossible to implement a solution so people could have access to the platform with no problem” explained Lacret. “We then decided that building Mobile App that would be compatible with both Android and iOS Operating Systems was the way-to-go option since it was almost impossible for the Government to restrict an App, and this would allow users who live in the country to have full access to all the news by just downloading the App”. he said.
Transforming a problem into a Software Product
We started our Cobuild Process
making sure the project was viable, the product had to be functional, easy to use, eye-catching and most of all, had to be capable of overcoming all the restrictions imposed in Venezuela. We talked to Mayela Marin
, the main QA Analysts
and Product Owner in charge of this project for some inputs on the developing process:
Q: What was the most challenging aspect of the project?
*Of course, the biggest problem with this project was surpassing all the restrictions, and building a Mobile App was the best solution, so we thought it was going to be easy-cake since developing mobile apps is what we live for.
But once we mapped out a roadmap for the development of its MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
we realized that since El Pitazo is a digital news media, it was crucial that the mobile app simultaneously displayed the exact same information posted on the web platform.*
Q: How did you identify the solution?
"Even though they have changed domains and IP directions way too many times in the past, their site elpitazo.net
was built using the development tool WordPress
. This allowed us to extract the information from the website and transfer it into the app using either of two methods: by making a scrapper of the website (which is a programming technique that allows us to extract information from any website) or using the API (Application Programming Interface)
offered by WordPress. After assessing both of them we chose to work with the site's API
Q. What were the outcomes of the implementation?
*Well, after weeks of a very managed teamwork, it was possible to build a Mobile app that is compatible with any device connected to the net, capable of bypassing every restriction imposed by the Venezuelan government, to provide keep Venezuelans very well informed.
The app has a very intuitive interface and it allows users to easily access the information and daily news, download it, share it, and visualize it later offline on their phones.*
Q: Your team also made some updates for internal use. Can you tell us about that?
*They needed information on user behavior, metrics, that's why we included a series of features by using Firebase
which allows El Pitazo's technical team to track user traffic, click on advertising, and to measure user behavior and their content preferences.
On top of that, we enable server administration which will be provided by our technical support department which will be responsible for keeping the application operating properly at all times, carrying out updates, and fixing any technical problems that may occur.*
In 2019 El Pitazo won the Ortega y Gasset Award
for best multimedia coverage, for a report on hungry children, "The Hunger Generation"
and it is currently part of the Latin American media of the Rebel Alliance alongside other major digital media such as Tal Cual and Runrunes. The mobile app is now available for both Android and iOS and has +10k downloads in the Play Store
with a rating of 4.3 out of 5.
Being informed is a right, we invite you to support El Pitazo by downloading the app and leaving your opinion in the comments. Thank you so much for reading!
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