BBC Backstage is to close in December, the corporation confirmed today. The five-year-old platform for independent developers has been in a state of “systematic winding down” since the beginning of this year, the BBC said in a blog post.
Adrian Woolard, of the BBC’s research and development team, also confirmed that “early discussions” are taking place around creating a larger network of independent developers, incorporating the BBC Backstage community.
The impetus behind the ambitious and resolutely un-BBC project, founded by Ian Forrester in 2005, was for designers, developers and artists to access BBC content – APIs from World Service, News, Learning, etc. – and get creative.
Interested parties say the news is a real shame, but Backstage kick-started an important movement in the UK developer scene – and one that will live on long after December.
Ant Miller, a senior research manager at BBC research and development, explained the closure in a message to the Backstage mailing list:
“As Jemima suggested [in a Tech Weekly podcast], we are trying to avoid the project grinding to a dead stop, and we’ve been working hard to have elements such as data feeds and API’s integrated into the BBC’s core business. Other elements, such as the support which we give to the community that uses this forum, plus some internal functions which the project performed, are also being transformed.
“We’re stepping up the efforts to make sure Backstage finishes properly, and we also need all of your help to make sure that the legacy of this effort is as successful as possible. Over the coming weeks we are going to try and find a way to take the best of the Backstage community into a larger grouping.
“We want to maintain a sustainable way to support you, and engage with you, but it seems odd to Balkanise this community into small specific groups, when the real strength of open development is the aggregation of multiple platforms, data sources and pulling all of the above together to make new applications and services based around the users. So, we’re going to see what we can set up that’s better for you, and, by extension, for us.
“This is a community though, and a vocal one at that, so please do let us know how you feel about this. What have we missed, how can we do it better, what opportunities do you think we can take but may have overlooked? For the moment we will continue to support this mailing list, and we’ll probably pop into the “friends of” now and again if we’re welcome too.”
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.