Radio Free Asia

Multilanguage support, workflow management a win for major news site

Solution Overview/Summary

Business Challenge

Implement an expandable, customizable content management solution enabling dozens of users with different workflow processes and approval processes to manage and publish a single site with common formatting in 10 different languages.


A Bricolage-powered content management implementation by Kineticode, backed by a comprehensive needs analysis and specification of custom document models, and delivered with a solid set of Mason formatting templates that generate semantic XHTML.



Existing Content Management proved Inflexible

Radio Free Asia (RFA,, an organization funded by the U.S. Congress with a mandate to broadcast exhaustive, unbiased news to Asian countries that lack free media, also publishes a large number of Asian news articles to its Website. The busy publishing schedule, which includes 100 new stories a day, plus approximately 60 supporting audio files derived from radio broadcasts, had long been supported by a custom-built site management application. But when RFA realized that it needed a new site design—in part to meet the accessibility requirements of Section 508—the existing solution could not easily be adapted, since it was hard-coded for the old site design.

RFA Selects Kineticode, Bricolage

Given RFA’s mandate, finding a suitable replacement proved to be a challenge, according to RFA’s Director of Program Delivery, Hal Creech. We needed a content management solution that would allow us to manage a single site that was, functionally, divided into 10 separate sections, each using a different language and frequently a different character set, said Creech. Not only that, it had to account for both Unicode-based and non-Unicode based scripts.

With over 150,000 existing documents to manage, RFA had aggressive scalability requirements, as well. The CMS had to work on a Linux box with a site that was built on Perl and Mason, explained RFA’s Webmaster, Joshua Edelstein. We needed a solution that was expandable, customizable, and could handle continual site development and growth. And ideally, it would have a browser-based interface and be able to handle numerous users with multiple access levels and permissions, added Edelstein.

Finding a content management system that met all of its criteria proved a challenge for RFA. We sent RFPs to many companies that we learned of either through trade magazines or Internet searches, said Creech. Bricolage was the only CMS we found that had the scalability, character set support, competitive pricing, and combination of Linux, Perl, and Mason support that we needed. The impressive list of Kineticode customers and the positive reviews in trade magazines helped seal our decision to select Kineticode to provide us with a Bricolage content management solution.

Kineticode Implements Solid Bricolage Solution

Kineticode provided end-to-end consulting for the RFA content management project. An initial needs analysis led to a detailed technical specification for the project, outlining the structure of each type of document on the site, as well as planning for the XHTML and RSS templates to render its content. Kineticode then implemented the complete solution, building the Bricolage server, creating the document models, and writing the templates to format content for output. Thanks to the semantic XHTML inherent in the design of the new site, the templates were able to be completely uniform across the RFA language services—including Uyghur, a language with a right-to-left text direction.

Kineticode also designed the Bricolage workflow processes for RFA, including the development of new features to ease the management of a multilingual user community. These included user preferences, so that individual users could elect to input content in character encodings other than Unicode, as well as language-specific cascading style sheets for each language used by RFA. These sponsored improvements were contributed back to the Bricolage project so that the entire community of Bricolage users could benefit, as well as to simplify upgrades to the RFA Bricolage server.

Combined with separate workflows and approval processes for each of the major RFA services (Burmese, Cantonese, English, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, Tibetan, Uyghur, and Vietnamese), these improvements enabled each language service to work with Bricolage according to its own workflow and approval processes.

Good Planning, Professional Implementation Lead to Solid Success

As a result of Kineticode’s thorough planning and implementation, the launch of the new, Bricolage-powered Website has been a solid success for RFA. RFA Webmaster Edelstein highlighted Bricolage’s scalability and workflow processes. The Bricolage workflow support has enabled us to add more professional review of content, said Edelstein. The flexible and powerful templating allows for easier design modifications and the preview functionality prevents the publication of mistakes to the main site. This power enabled us to really take advantage of the workflow features, allowing more people to contribute content to the site without losing control over editorial or interface integrity.

Creech praised Bricolage’s management features. With so many users logging into the system to create and edit content, the ability for them to upload media files through the CMS browser interface has been a boon. And thanks to Bricolage’s document versioning and event logging, we’re able to easily revert to older versions of documents and examine the logs to see who made changes to content or preferences. These features allow us to trust Bricolage to a large number of users without fear of losing control over the structure or quality of the content on our site.

Creech and Edelstein agreed that Kineticode’s work was crucial to the success of the RFA Bricolage project. One of the impressive points of Kineticode is that it’s a small company with big customers, said Edelstein. This fact is not only indicative of the ease of use of the software, but also the ease of interaction with the company.

In addition to the fact that Kineticode worked closely with our technicians and designers, we were able to get a lot of one-on-one instant feedback from Bricolage maintainer David Wheeler, adds Creech. As Kineticode developed new features to accommodate our specific needs, David took a personal interest in the success of our site and in implementing solutions for our unique multilingual challenges.

All in all the project has been a great success for RFA, and the organization plans to continue to collaborate with Kineticode to improve its site and add new features in the years to come.