Pipi 4 (2005-2008)

Pipi 3 was highly successful. It drove the 17th most popular website in New Zealand for a couple of years from 2002 -2003, but it was rapidly buried by its own success. The rapid growth in members and what they wanted from NZERN's website led to an explosion in ColdFusion spaghetti code that made up Pipi.

A new enterprise architecture that could scale was needed.

The Plan

I was one of the co-authors of the NZERN Pipi 2003-2005 Development Plan that was to led to Pipi 4.

Section 1 Summary

"The scope of this report is to look at where we want to be in one to two years time with Pipi and the www.bush.org.nz website it drives. Having a plan is important so work can be done without wasting volunteer effort, scarce resources or duplicating services. 

Pipi is the computer application that drives the website of the New Zealand Ecological Restoration Network (NZERN) at www.bush.org.nz. NZERN is dedicated to encouraging public involvement in conservation. The website was designed and built by volunteers from dozens of community groups. 12,000 hours was donated from 1997 - 2003 for this massive design task. Members of NZERN get a password to enter their own information into Pipi. All the information available at www.bush.org.nz comes from Pipi. Current challenges faced with the development of Pipi: 

  • The growing complexity of Pipi & growing number of users. 
  • Pipi needs to be quick and easy to use for most users. 
  • Pipi requires a well thought out plan to add new features. 
  • Greater code efficiency is required to prevent rework for volunteers. 
  • The volunteer skill requirements and training to meet any gaps. 
  • The scale of hardware & software purchases needs a clear migration path. 
  • The budget requirements for successful operation of Pipi. 

The authors are the members of the Pipi Steering Committee, a committee of NZERN  with information technology management expertise that has been delegated the control over the direction, development and day-to-day operation of Pipi ..."

Starting 2004

Pipi 4 was to utilise a Microsoft-based software stack for its core platform, with other specialized tools for GIS, graphics, media and content management. The plan aims to incrementally introduce more advanced technologies over time.

Some of the key technologies used in this project:

  • Microsoft SQL Server - Used for the main Pipi database.
  • ColdFusion - Used for generating dynamic web pages and accessing the database.
  • HTML, XHTML, XML - Used for structuring web page content.
  • JavaScript - For scripting interactive elements on web pages.
  • Macromedia Flash - For adding multimedia content like animations.
  • ESRI ArcGIS - For GIS mapping capabilities.
  • Microsoft IIS - For running the web servers.
  • Windows Server - For running other server software like SQL Server.
  • Visual SourceSafe - For source code version control.
  • Adobe software - Like Photoshop, Premier, Acrobat for media creation/editing.


Those who helped (thank you)
  • Gregoire Alabergere (Intern)
  • Salma Abarro (Intern)
  • Matthias Bammann (Intern)
  • Gerald Barreau (Intern)
  • Liocha Berg (Intern)
  • Denise Bester
  • Felix Blosch (Intern)
  • Matthias Bickert (Intern)
  • Harry Boufal
  • Haleigh Brereton (Intern)
  • Brendan Campbell
  • Jared Cantlon
  • Greg Comfort (Landcare Research)
  • Kirsty Cooksey (Intern)
  • Sarah Dickson (Intern)
  • Angela Ender (Intern)
  • Dave Evans (Travis Wetland Trust)
  • Denise Ford (Travis Wetland Trust)
  • Marian Frey (Halswell)
  • Cynthia Gabiana (Intern)
  • Steven Gager (Intern)
  • Gerhard Gruber (Intern)
  • Bertrand Guillet (Intern)
  • Jessica Hall
  • Tim Haarmann (Intern)
  • Tobias Hoernle (Intern)
  • Simon Johnson
  • Edith Jones
  • Parker Jones (MIRO)
  • Emily Keefe
  • Michael Kinney  (Intern)
  • Roland Kraus  (Intern)
  • Andre Lang (Intern)
  • Eric Ning-yuan Shen  (Intern)
  • Colin Meurk
  • Karl Mize
  • Kate Muir
  • Simon Ogston
  • Mike Peters (Addington Bush)
  • Tracy Peters (Addington Bush)
  • Christian Schreiner (Intern)
  • Christina Schull (Intern)
  • Sebastan Shulze  (Intern)
  • Alexander Schumaan  (Intern)
  • Matthias Seebauer  (Intern)
  • Abby Thornley
  • Cheri "Chucky" Van Schravendijk
  • Sayaka Wada  (Intern)
  • Kristen Weiss  (Intern)
  • Vanessa Wells
  • Hannah West
  • Chris Wood  (Intern)
  • and many more - please let me know who is missing. 


Major software grants were given by
  • ESRI Conservation Program ($600K)
  • Microsoft NZ ($100K)

Finish 2005

Pipi 4 (2005-2008)

  • MCV architecture
  • ColdFusion Server
  • SQL Server (850 tables)
  • ArcIMS websites for 50 projects
  • GeoServer geodatabase with more tables
  • XML + XSLT
  • 500 class objects
  • 2000 methods
  • 300,000 lines of code
  • Workflow engine
  • State engine
  • Render engine
  • Form engine
  • Content Management System (24,000 static web pages)
  • Multiple websites
  • Metadata Repository
  • Own server farm

What Happened After That

Just about everything in the development plan was achieved except for creating a client program to install on the local desktops of users and turning the server farm into a shared facility that could have also hosted applications for all National conservation groups in New Zealand including
  • QE2 National Trust
  • Forest & Bird
  • etc.
In the end, the money ran out. Pipi was successful technically, but was completely dependent on NZ government funding.

All work on Pipi finished in 2009, NZERN was shut down. Bush Telly, an offshoot from NZERN was highly successful for a time, but died following the Christchurch Earthquakes.

It was a great pity and an opportunity loss for conservation in NZ.

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