The PartnerBar - Contextual Cross Linking

December 18, 2007

A few weeks ago, our team received a call from the Executive Producer of, the online extension of Entertainment Weekly Magazine. She asked if our Feed API could be used to build a module that they could configure to promote and link to their partner's sites. The result of that phone call is our brand new PartnerBar control.

Working closely with the Executive Producer and production staff, we developed the control to meet the demanding needs of's site while ensuring that the same code and model could support the rest of the Time Inc. network, as well as the network of sites you are likely to care about. The result is a professional level component that gives the design team complete control over all aspects of styling and site integration and delivers a widely used control at a very low integration cost.

Looking around the web, we see many sites using a wide variety of technologies to provide functionality that is similar to our AJAX based PartnerBar. Depending on a site's architecture and infrastructure, these modules can be somewhat expensive to build, test, maintain, and extend. Sometimes there are cron jobs that have to be run to pull and process partner feeds, sometimes there are back end code and templates that need heavy changes, etc. The PartnerBar that we built is coded as an AJAX control and as a result, it's typically very easy to integrate onto your site, requiring the resources of your HTML team and designers, but not your back end team. At this level of the stack, integrations are typically very efficient in terms of both time and impact on related infrastructure. They are able to take a control like our PartnerBar and go from idea to live in a matter of hours. Our team's design standard: "If you can tweak your HTML template, you can have the PartnerBar (or VideoBar, NewsBar, SlideShow, etc.) up in minutes."

We have embedded a demonstration PartnerBar beneath this paragraph. A live version of our PartnerBar is also visible on (look in the footer for a section titled "From our Partners").

We can't wait to see how you choose to integrate the PartnerBar on your site as well as to hear your feedback and ideas.

And finally, take a look at our latest gadget designed to showcase Videos. The gadget is based on our Slide Show control and makes use of just a few of it's more advanced callback features.