Softjourn

Ticketmaster: How Xamarin Benefits Ticket Scanning Apps

Seeking a less expensive and time-consuming ticket scanning app, Ticketmaster approached Softjourn about investigating whether Xamarin mobile app development would fit its needs
Ticketmaster
Ticketmaster

Ticketmaster is the world’s largest ticket marketplace and the global market leader in live event ticketing products and services. Ticketmaster is the official ticketing partner of the NHL, NFL, NBA, USTA, PGA Tours, a number of MLB and MLS teams, and artists and venues around the world. The company currently operates in 29 countries and processesmore than 500 million ticket transactions each year through various platforms, including their app and website.

For years, Ticketmaster has been using native iOS and Android ticket-scanning apps to scan barcodes. 

Over time, they became concerned by the ongoing maintenance associated with supporting two native codebases and SDK updates. There was also a high cost in employing in-house iOS and Android developers.

Wanting to find a less expensive, less time-consuming approach, Ticketmaster asked Softjourn to investigate whether Xamarin would meet its needs. Softjourn researched these questions:

  • Would Xamarin offer a cost advantage?

  • Would its benefits outweigh the disadvantages if there was no cost advantage?

Ticketmaster Case Study: Xamarin Ticket Scanning App

Softjourn has worked with ticketing and event management companies for almost 20 years, delivering a wide range of projects at both the functional and system levels. 

With our ticketing expertise and experience working with ticket scanner apps, we knew our experts could develop an effective solution using Xamarin for Ticketmaster.

Ticketmaster Case Study: Ticket Scanning App Development

Phase 1: Project Analysis and Prototype Development

Ticketmaster wanted to know if Xamarin could deliver results while sharing code across platforms. 

Once Softjourn had the full application scope, they began to investigate if Xamarin would meet Ticketmaster’s needs. Softjourn proposed creating a prototype, requiring only a short amount of time and minimum resources. 

With a prototype, Ticketmaster could visualize the ticket scanning solution. It would help them decide on whether to proceed with a full-fledged app — or not.

Softjourn set a five-week timeline to create a prototype to show that Xamarin could work with a Linea-Pro device, Janam device, or a bring-your-own-device’s built-in camera for ticket validation. For Xamarin to meet Ticketmaster’s needs, Softjourn had to develop custom components to produce the same look and feel across all platforms.

The prototype showed that Xamarin was viable. Even though there were some UI and design limitations, Softjourn demonstrated that a Xamarin-developed ticket scanning app would require less maintenance than the native applications Ticketmaster was using. 

Softjourn also proved that Xamarin could be effectively supported by Ticketmaster's .NET team when there was a need for new features. These two factors significantly reduced both operational costs and required maintenance time. 

Softjourn’s prototype for ticket software development included:

  • Built-in camera ticket-scanning on iOS and Android devices
  • Ticket scanning via a Linea-Pro barcode scanner
  • Ticket scanning via one of Janam’s rugged Android devices

With Softjourn’s prototype, Ticketmaster could make an informed decision about moving forward with a full app development project. 

 

Phase 2: Ticket Scanning App Development

With the prototype completed, Ticketmaster gave Softjourn the green light to move forward with developing the ticket scanning app using Xamarin. The development project took just over one month to complete. 

Softjourn implemented Ticketmaster’s design and workflow. Building basic app features and the following functionality that would support online scanning: 

  • Ability to run on iOS and Android, as well as Janam XM70 rugged handheld units
  • Initialization and setup
  • Login and authentication
  • Scanner association
  • Set venue
  • Set entrance
  • Entry, exit, and history
  • Recall the last scan

 

Phase 3: Adding Offline Scanning Functionality

After the successful development of the initial app, Ticketmaster asked Softjourn to develop an offline scanning mode functionality. With offline scanning mode, ticket scanning can continue even when the internet or network connectivity is lost. 

Scanned ticket data is stored in the device’s local memory. When connectivity is restored, the data is sent to a server, which updates the database.

Offline mode is crucial to Ticketmaster’s clients. Event organizers don’t want to create a poor patron experience by having to hold up admittance when network connectivity goes down. 

Proving Xamarin Could Handle Offline Mode

The first task was to prove that Xamarin could handle developing offline mode. Together, Softjourn and Ticketmaster established an offline mode flow, architecture, and functionality. To do this, they reviewed a previous iteration of the ticket scanning solution. 

They wanted to automate this version of offline mode functionality. This way, the solution would not require user intervention. If a device went offline, scanning would continue. Users would also immediately see in which mode the device was operating.

Furthermore, the app would need to work the same way across all supported iOS and Android OS versions. The solution required the same API that was already used for online scanning, but they needed to determine the offline mode architecture before writing code or testing.

The offline ticket scanning solution developed consists of three high-level components:

  • Pipeline Manager: The manager runs the pipeline and through its configuration, determines which pipeline components to execute, in which order. It decides which of the executed components provides the best result and coordinates with the local token event queue.
  • Pipeline Components: These self-contained modules have their local storage, network access, and state. They’re pluggable, based on the scanning device’s configuration.
  • Local Token Event Queue: On a confirmed local scan, the generated token event is sent to a local queue via the Pipeline Manager. The pipeline component can then consume it immediately or hand it off to a queue for later processing. Action can then be taken on the token event, such as replaying scans to Ticketmaster’s check-in via online authentication when connectivity returns.

Core to the offline solution is the processing pipeline that executes a sequence of modules to attempt a scan. Modules run according to the mode available to the application at the time of the scan — online, offline, or emergency. 

The Pipeline Manager is responsible for running scans through the sequence and recording the results of scans in which offline mode is used. Once the application regains internet access, scans are played back to the backend.

Softjourn chose Realm for the local database because it allows quick search and updates of the ticket base on the device. It also features built-in encryption.

Penetration Testing

As the offline mode was developed, Softjourn hired a third-party firm to conduct penetration testing. This was to ensure the app was not vulnerable to hackers. It also made sure any data — everything from access to event, venue, and entrance settings — was safely stored. The third-party firm offered recommendations for any fixes needed.

Adding the offline feature took three months. Ticketmaster successfully beta tested the feature at a large event in Denmark. The event included 60-70 different devices operating simultaneously and scanned 200,000 tickets.

“200,000 tickets scanned within the first few months of beta testing with the Xamarin app,” said Ticketmaster’s Product Manager. “The response from the client was really good. They compared the Xamarin scanning solution with their proprietary in-house ticket scanning app, and they saw a much-improved performance.”

The Benefits

  • Robust solution for scanning devices on multiple platforms at reduced cost and maintenance burden
  • The new, upgraded app operates in both online and offline environments
  • Currently operating across seven international markets and used in 50 venues
  • During beta testing successfully scanned 500,000 tickets with no difference from former native applications

Conclusion

Ticketmaster now enjoys a robust solution for scanning devices on multiple platforms — both online and offline — at a significantly reduced cost and maintenance burden.

Ticketmaster’s ticket scanning application operates across seven markets internationally and used in 50 venues. Beta testing, during which 500,000 tickets were successfully scanned, and subsequent use of the Xamarin-developed app was proven successful — with users seeing no difference from the native app they had been accustomed to using.

Softjourn continues to work with Ticketmaster to identify additional ticket scanning app enhancements.