From workhorse to colt

HuffPost plumps for Scala and MongoDB in ‘real-time’ newsroom search

Chris Mayer

Sick of their bloated PHP/MySQL stack, the Huffington Post developer team have migrated to a modern alternative for their editorial needs.

News aggregator-cum-blog website The Huffington Post has ditched
its eight-year old PHP/MySQL stack in favour of more modern
technologies, namely Scala and MongoDB.

John Pavley, CTO of HuffPost, explained
about the project codenamed Athena
in a

technical blogpost
, as the company looked to
move towards “a modernized codebase.”

“Eight years is a long time for an Internet
application to live,” he explained. “Since HuffPost MT was forked
from the original Movable Type the technological landscape has
changed. Entire technology paradigms have fallen in and out of
favor with the digerati.”

PHP, MySQL and vanilla
were all shunned by the new “battle
hardened” development team, with Pavley explaining that “the
workhorses of Internet applications” were “no longer

Even with Facebook’s miracle work with PHP, the
Athena team decided to incorporate a newer, more scalable language
at the heart of the Huffington Post. Despite its relative infancy,
the selection of Scala (and its web framework Play) for “its
simpler, more robust and more useable code” is a big coup for
parent company Typesafe.

The Huffington Post aren’t the first news site
to pick the JVM language in their stack, with

the Guardian
having moved to
Scala from Java in 2011.

“Scala is a relatively young programming
language with several modern ideas built into its design,” Pavley
revealed. “Scala was built on top of the environment of the older
and well tested language Java. So Scala gets the benefits of Java’s
performance and stability.”

In MySQL’s place comes the document database MongoDB, selected
for its native flexibility, which Pavley says will help “keep pace”
with evolving new stories

“For Athena the team wanted to make it super
easy to model the complex documents that news stories have become
in the 21st century,” Pavley continued.

The post goes on to explain why AngularJS was selected “to tame
JavaScript and HTML” for the front end. The result of this heady
mix of modern technologies is a collaborative beta content delivery
platform that allows editors to craft articles together. You can
see a brief view of Athena in the soundless video below.


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