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Case Study: Advanced Publishing creates interactive online publications with Microsoft® Silverlight

Posted: January 28, 2008

Advanced Publishing Corporation is a premier provider of digital edition solutions in the publishing industry. The company creates online digital versions of over 200 publications in Canada and the United States and as such, needs a strong technology platform that can continually enhance its portfolio of services and products for customers and their subscribers. Staying on the leading edge of technology also enables Advanced Publishing to build a stronger competitive edge. As part of this strategy the company turned to the Microsoft® Silverlight browser plug-in and Microsoft Expression® Blend™ design software to help build a new and improved format for the online publication templates. Advanced Publishing now has an interactive online format that provides greater functionality and enhanced video capabilities.

Company Overview

Founded in 2003 by a team of experienced entrepreneurs and technologists, Advanced Publishing delivers innovative digital solutions to the print media publishing industry. To continue to evolve and meet the ever-changing publishing sector landscape, Advanced Publishing wanted to offer an even more sophisticated digital version of its publications to customers, one that leveraged the most advanced technology available. This meant adding new functionality and advanced video capabilities.

Business Challenge

Previously the company used a proprietary application that simply compressed a high-resolution PDF of a publication’s print version and formatted for use on the Web. This process limited the visual quality of the digital edition. It also required a plug-in from a third-party. This posed a significant business problem as it was publishers were reluctant to encourage readers to download a plug-in they didn’t feel came from a trusted source. After using this method for four years the company decided to examine newer technologies.

“We are in the business of offering complete digital versions of people’s favourite publications. To succeed, we need to have a product that anyone can access. This requires a cross-platform, cross-browser solution that covers the entire market,” says Edward Matthews, Director of Product Development and Client Services, Advanced Publishing.


After investigating the market, Advanced Publishing decided to create a new online publication template using Microsoft® Silverlight browser plug-in and Microsoft® Expression Blend™ design software.

“We looked at Adobe’s Flash/Flex and Microsoft Silverlight. However, even though Silverlight was still in beta, we knew it would be a stronger product in the end,” says Matthews. “It has more functionality and advanced video capabilities that Flash lacked.”

Microsoft Silverlight is a cross-browser, cross-platform, implementation of the .NET Framework for building and delivering the next generation of media experiences and rich interactive applications.

“Silverlight also has workflow capabilities and for us that was really important as it allows us to develop on time. Flash didn’t have any of the same caliber of capabilities,” adds Matthews.

To help ensure the online publication template had an easy-to-use interface, Advanced Publishing also leveraged Microsoft Expression Blend to complete the back-end development and help guarantee a unique and interactive user experience.

“Microsoft Silverlight technology was another reason why we chose Expression Blend. The two products complement each other so well,” says Matthews. “Our designer was impressed by Blend, specifically how it helps developers and designers collaborate better to produce appealing user interfaces, interactive experiences and rich media content.”

Creating a seamless and efficient workflow between designer and developer has always been a challenging task. Expression Blend allows designers and developers to easily share project files between Blend and Visual Studio® development system. As well, XAML code files can be opened and edited in both Visual Studio and Expression and iterated upon in either product without compromising design.

“We felt this would give us a competitive differentiator in the market, as our competitors are not using Microsoft technologies. Also, because they are superior products, we can use this to our advantage when pitching new clients,” says Matthews.

Business Benefits

With the help of the new Expression tools and Silverlight, Advanced Publishing was able to build a new and unique online format for its clients' publications.

“Since creating the new template we’ve already seen excitement from our clients and their subscribers. We are proud of the design and rich interactive applications we were able to build using these technologies,” says Matthews.

Increased Efficiency

By taking advantage of Microsoft Expression, Advanced Publishing can now easily reuse the user interface functionality of its customers’ sites, making the development process more efficient.

“Silverlight allowed us to power and flexibility to reuse the functionality for other sites. We also now have the ability to automate our processes. With Flash, we had to add components manually, which wasted a lot of time. Now we can produce sites more quickly and efficiently,” says Matthews.

As well, Silverlight gives Advanced Publishing the ability to easily change files. “We currently publish many thousands of new magazine and newspaper pages each month and need to have the ability to have new issues published quickly and available for readers. We need to be as efficient as possible to ensure such new time sensitive information is updated constantly,” says Matthews.

Increased Functionality

By using the new technology Advanced Publishing can now better serve its customers and offer them even more functionality and value.

“Our customers are very excited about our move to Microsoft technology. They are confident it will help them provide their customers with a better user experience,” says Matthews. “Our customers are looking for more interactive features and a better user experience that they can find elsewhere. In order to differentiate ourselves over the competition it was important to choose a new and feature-rich technology. Silverlight helps give us that.”

Silverlight also provides Advanced Publishing with video functionality.

“The more advanced video capabilities Silverlight offers pushes the user experience beyond what is commonly available today in the digital publication industry,” says Matthews.

Better Business Opportunities

Advanced Publishing has strengthened its reputation as a company on the leading-edge of the digital publication industry. This opens up further opportunities to expand its client roster and build a stronger, more successful business.

“With Silverlight, the possibilities are endless. We are really looking forward to seeing the benefits from future versions,” says Matthews.

For More Information

For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:www.microsoft.com

For more information about Advanced Publishing Corporation products and services, call 506-674-9543 or visit the Web site at:www.advancedpublishing.com