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AMLD: building a web app for managing an AI event with hundreds of speakers and thousands of attendees

How we leveraged the full power of Ruby on Rails and create an event management web app with a complex admin panel

Applied Machine Learning Days is one of the biggest European conferences on the topic of AI and Machine Learning organized by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. The event notices 66% year-to-year growth and 2020 edition attracted 470 speakers and over 4000 attendees from all over the globe, with five days of lectures and sessions and 29 different tracks.

Challenge:

The biggest challenge of the project was the need for a very complex admin panel. The app was supposed the be used by the various parties participating in the conference: event team, speakers, moderators, and attendees with different levels of admin access and different features available. We knew this part will take most of our time.

Another challenge we faced was that the vision of the app and all the functionalities were not clarified at the beginning. App usage requirements weren’t defined and we had to help the AMLD team evaluate and select all the features of the app needed to flawless user experience.

Time was a factor as well - we had to get the front-end as soon as possible, so it wouldn’t block us from focusing on complex admin panel.

Luckily, the AMLD team provided us with designs, so we could start working on the front end of the application.

Process:

We started with the design implementation right away. We have chosen Ruby on Rails, due to its efficiency and abundance of ready-to-use community proven solutions. We managed to quickly implement the designs to RoR application using Slim and WebPacker and other libraries. The whole process took us only two weeks.

After having the front end in order, it was time for creating the admin panel. We decided to leverage the active admin library which allows the administrator can easily modify all content appearing in portal and users.

Using this solution significantly accelerated the process of creating the administration panel, saving precious time and client’s resources. We finished with active admin configuration so it exactly suits the event team needs.

Thanks to choosing fast-implementable solutions we were able to deliver the whole project before the scheduled deadline. As a result, AMLD could launch their marketing campaign earlier and bring even more attendees to the event.

During the whole process, we also helped the AMLD team to clarify the vision of the product and all the final features. We maintained an active communication: every day we were defining and proposing new solutions and modifications so the AMLD team had full access and impact on the development process.

As a result, they were able to verify all the proposed solutions on the way - we minimized the potential misunderstandings and maintained a high level of client satisfaction, along with saving a substantial amount of precious time.

Outcome:

We have created a consistent system that allows creating many individual conference pages and easy speaker registration.

The web app gave the final users a possibility to buy tickets in one place, find information about speakers, agenda, allowed easy contact with the organization, and gave users the possibility of creating accompanying events, talks, and paths. From the organizers’ standpoint, we have fully automated the process of scheduling the speakers' appointments.

As for the tech side, we have the newest version of Ruby on Rails with all the updates on libraries, updates and will be providing constant maintenance over the code to ensure its security in case of updates.

We have also introduced the testing process to the organization - the AMLD team was able to test if requirements are compiled in the way they wanted, which usually they do not do.

We are also continuing with the collaboration - AMLD asked us to scale the operation up and build similar solutions for all the different events organized by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

  • 10 days for RoR implementation
  • 470 speakers
  • 4000 attendees

Their team meets tight deadlines, including some that only give them a few hours to do the work.

Sylvain Bernard

Event Manager, EPFL

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