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Roam Agency

When their hosting provider failed, our disaster recovery system saved the day.

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Roam Agency manages world rights for some of the most influential thinkers and academics of the 20th century. Roam has had their books published in more than forty languages and countries and is the exclusive representative of Haymarket Books.

To say they have their hands full is to put it mildly. So when Roam contacted us about an engagement, their primary focus was on finding ways to streamline their web content creation and publishing process.

But while developing automations to make their workload less manual, we also noticed some infrastructure shortcomings that needed to be addressed.


Beyond the standard hurdles of developing custom solutions, this project also offered some unique challenges:

Inadequate Infrastructure
Not only was Roam’s hosting solution inadequate for the new direction they wanted to take things, but the lack of a development/deployment pipeline and automated backup system gave us cause for concern.

Complicated Third-Party Integration
For one particularly difficult automation, we needed to generate PDF-based product catalogs out of content stored in a WordPress website. From there, we had to automate getting those catalogs to ISSUU, an online digital publishing platform.

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When Roam's hosting provider failed, our safeguards had everything back up and running on a different provider in less than an hour, all without any data loss.


Although Roam was already working with a nationally recognized, top-tier hosting provider, their service level didn’t give them the ability to do what they wanted. So, after upgrading the service, we went about installing and configuring additional software packages, setting up revision control, creating separate staging and production environments and automating a backup process.

And, it’s a good thing we did!

Several months later, the hosting provider performed a hardware upgrade that wiped out Roam’s website, our automations and WordPress’ database. On top of that, the hosting provider had no way of their own to restore everything. Luckily, the infrastructure we’d built out earlier that year allowed us to quickly re-deploy to DigitalOcean, where we got everything back up and running in less than an hour, all without any data loss.

For the automated integration with ISSUU, we created a WordPress template that used custom queries to assemble product catalogs in HTML and CSS whenever content on the site changed. From there we wrote a server-side utility that automatically downloaded the HTML version of the catalog and converted it into a properly formatted PDF. The utility then combined the PDF with metadata and used ISSUU’s developer API to upload and publish the content for review. Finally, the utility alerted Roam whenever a new version of the catalog was waiting for their approval.

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Roam Agency

Project Summary
Automate repetitive tasks and implement maintenance, backup and security strategies.

Biggest Difficulty
Develop complex solutions on inadequate infrastructure.

Main Technologies
Git, PHP, Python, WordPress

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