Posts by Matthew La France

 
 
 

All About MiddMedia

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

MiddMedia is a audio/video storage and streaming service hosted by the college. It is developed and supported by LIS with the goal of providing high quality video streaming for both academic and administrative needs.

MiddMedia is not a video browsing and search service. To share a video with others you must embed it in a website visible to your intended audience. This website might be a Middlebury Drupal page, a WordPress blog, a MediaWiki wiki, or another site on campus or elsewhere on the internet.

Features of MiddMedia:

  • Free for Middlebury College users
  • All users get 500MB of storage space by default
  • Requests for additional storage space will be granted if appropriate.
  • Video quality is not restricted when uploading in original quality, DVD-quality is possible
  • Video length is not restricted, only total storage-space usage (which is 500MB by default [see above], 1.5GB per file).
  • Local network location means that high quality videos can be streamed instantly around campus.
  • Videos can be of any aspect ratio (such as tall and narrow)
  • Supports MP3/M4a audio
  • Video uploads are private, access control is totally dependent on where you embed the video (if anywhere).
  • Download links are available for all audio and video.
  • Upload and insertion plugins are available for WordPress.

Some changes have been made to the MiddMedia platform in the past year. Videos are now encoded in two video formats supported by browser based HTML5 compliant video players; mp4 and webm. This will ease display of videos on mobile devices and across modern browsers. The embed code generated by MiddMedia includes a Flash fallback to our recently updated Strobe player.

Note: None of our on-campus platforms support the copy and paste of this embed code (to my knowledge), however it can be made use of on other sites. Currently Mediawiki still uses the Flash player only, and WordPress does not support webm. Drupal makes use of a full HTML5 style embed with Flash fallback. Documentation on working with videos in our on-campus platforms can be found here:

- Drupal: http://mediawiki.middlebury.edu/wiki/LIS/Editing_in_Drupal#Video
- WordPress: http://mediawiki.middlebury.edu/wiki/LIS/WordPress_MU#Embedding_Video
- MediaWiki: http://mediawiki.middlebury.edu/wiki/LIS/MiddMedia#Using_audio.2Fvideo_from_MiddMedia_in_MediaWiki

On upload, quality settings can now be specified if you’d like to generate specific quality versions of files. There are also now some basic controls for collapsing folders making it easier if you have multiple folders to browse. Additional documentation may be found here.

What is GO?

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

GO is an aliasing and redirection application. Don’t let the jargon intimidate you, just think of it as a way to make and use shortcuts to college resources.

If you’d like to see a list of shortcuts that are currently available simply type “go” into the address bar of your web browser. If you are off campus you may use “go.middlebury.edu”. If you’d like to visit a go shortcut directly from on campus simply type it into your address bar. For instance type “go/liswiki” and hit “enter” to get to the LIS wiki page.

Chances are you will use a go link without even realizing it by clicking on a normal anchor (link) in a web page. You can use a GO shortcut as a URL in a link on a web page for any page internal to middlebury.edu. Example: <a href=”http://go.middlebury.edu/liswiki”>LIS Wiki</a>. You’ll want to use a GO shortcut rather than a direct link for any resources you are linking to that could change location. As long as the shortcut admin updates the shortcut when a content location changes you won’t need to update any of your links.

GO eased the launch of the new site by allowing links in content to be easily updated en-mass. GO has also become central to our search strategy as GO shortcuts are now provided as suggestions and automatic-redirects when you enter search terms on the main site.

This year we’ve added additional features to GO, such at the community moderation of GO shortcuts, an improved editing and admin interface, as well as the ability to generate a QR code for any go shortcut by visiting its info page.

Weekly Web Development Round-up July 25-July 29, 2011

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

To give our colleagues a better idea of what’s changed in our web applications each week, we’ll be preparing this quick list for publication each Friday. Not all of the details of each change are included below, but we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have in the comments.

Box Office

  • The Box Office page now has a mobile theme. Any device that supports CSS media queries will now see a mobile friendly version of the Box Office allowing for easier browsing and purchase of tickets on the go!

Drupal

  • Image enclosures now appear for the news stories features in the MIIS news feed.
  • We’ve made a significant page speed improvement in the module that allows you to add meta tags to pages and nodes. This module no longer creates over 1,000 extra database queries every time a page is loaded.
  • Updated modules: select_or_other

MediaWiki

  • You can now properly indent text in MediaWiki using the following wiki code:
    : single indent
    :: double indent
    ::: triple indent

Summon

  • Serials Solutions will perform an upgrade to Summon on August 2nd. This will include significant changes to the appearance of the search results, to make them an easier-to-read and more informative. To see the effect before it goes live, follow http://middlebury.uipreview.summon.serialssolutions.com/
    (book availability doesn’t show up on the preview, but it will live!)

WordPress

Enhancements to MiddMedia Video Hosting Application

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

For those who may not know MiddMedia is an audio/video storage and streaming service hosted by the college for Middlebury College users. To share a video with others you must embed it in a website visible to your intended audience. Documentation is available here.

The Web Application Development Team has been hard at work making enhancements to the MiddMedia application in order to better support mobile platforms, the current HTML5 standards, and our users. Below are some of the enhancements that have been made in the past month.

  • As part of the recent HTML5 standard, modern browsers support the native playback of video files using an HTML5 video tag. All videos uploaded to MiddMedia are now encoded in both H.264 and WebM formats so that they can be played natively in browsers that support H.264 (IE 9, Safari, iOS) and WebM (Firefox 4, Chrome, Opera, Android), and allow better support for mobile browsers.
  • When uploading a video, you can now select the quality that will be used when the video is transcoded (original, 360p, 480p, 720p, 1080p). Previously a single standard of around 480p was used unless the videos were encoded in Mp4 or Flv to start with. Now you may choose additional high-def qualities (NOTE: Does not upscale video), or original to preserve quality as closely as possible during encoding to multiple formats.
  • Embed code references the Mp4 and WebM versions of the videos for HTML5 compliant browsers. All others will fall back to a Flash player (the recently updated Strobe Player). Videos embedded in the Drupal site with the video short code also display in this manner. Instructions on embeding videos from MiddMedia in Drupal are available here.
  • Added basic support for M4a files. Users can now upload M4a audio files to MiddMedia. Quicktime may be required to preview them in the MiddMedia application. The WordPress MiddMedia plug-in allows you to embed m4a files in WordPress blogs/pages. You can add these to your posts as you normally would for other audio/video files. When the post is displayed, you will see the m4a with images in a video player if you are using Safari, or a link to the m4a file that users with other browsers can download and play in an application like iTunes or QuickTime. NOTE: To ensure your audio files will be accessible to the broadest range of listeners and devices, we recommend using the .mp3 format unless you have a special use case that requires m4a.
  • A new show/hide feature will allow users to toggle show/hide behavior for folders in MiddMedia. For users who only have access to a single personal folder this feature will not be of much use, but for users with access to several shared directories this will help with navigation of multiple folders with many videos.

We hope you enjoy the new enhancements!

Weekly Web Development Round-up July 04-July 08, 2011

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

To give our colleagues a better idea of what’s changed in our web applications each week, we’ll be preparing this quick list for publication each Friday. Not all of the details of each change are included below, but we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have in the comments.

Drupal

  • Kathryn Benson, who’s been working on the Dean of the College website suggested that we create a guide to the different page color schemes. This is now available on the LIS wiki. Thanks, Kathryn!
  • We noticed that the URL field for File Uploads was being filled in by a lot of people as a title for the file. The URL field is used to wrap images in a link to an external URL, like the Give Now button on our Giving home page, so entering a title in that field will create a broken link that will show up in your SiteCheck report. The URL field used to show up in a place that was easy to mistake for a title field after the file was uploaded, so we’ve moved it to reduce this confusion.
  • Modules updated: monster_menus, media, rss_page

MiddMedia

  • A show/hide link now appears in the heading for each folder that lets you show/hide the current folder, or all folders. This is helpful if you have access to multiple folders with a lot of content and need to easily access them.

WordPress

We’re testing out the new version of WordPress, 3.2 and are almost ready to deploy it to the live site. We just need to make sure that a few more plugins are compatible with the update. This is a minor version update, so there are not many changes, but here is a video describing some of the new features. The fullscreen editor is especially neat.

One note: the video mentions that people using older browsers will see a notice that they need to update. We’ve disabled this notice so that it won’t nag you when you’re using one of the lab or walkup machines or if you use an older browser on your personal machine because its required to use another web application.

WordPress 3.2 Release Announcement
WordPress 3.2 Technical Changes
WordPress 3.2  Closed Tickets

Weekly Web Development Round-up June 27-July 01, 2011

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

To give our colleagues a better idea of what’s changed in our web applications each week, we’ll be preparing this quick list for publication each Friday. Not all of the details of each change are included below, but we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have in the comments.

Drupal

  • News items in RSS feeds are themed as they are on the website. This support will be expanded to other content types over time. Images from News items are added as enclosures in the RSS feed. See the Middlebury News archive feed for an example.
  • We’ve added a module to allow conditional email recipients for forms. When creating an email for your form, you can specify that the email will be sent based on the value of one of the fields.
  • Modules update: feeds
  • Drupal version update: Pressflow 6.22.104 (fixes an issue where URLs for files and images were relative to the site, rather than including the host name).

MiddMedia

  • Added support for m4a files. Users can now upload m4a audio files. The application will preview them (with any associated images) and will generate embed code for them. Quicktime is required to preview these files.
  • Embed code generated for video files now uses HTML5 embed tags that reference the mp4 and webm versions of the videos for HTML5 compliant browsers. All others will fall back to a Flash player (currently Strobe player).
  • Constrained widths of elements of the main file listing table. Before long file names could force the table below the sidebar. Now the elements should remain positioned correctly despite the size of the contents.

SubjectsPlus

  • Created a “Summon” pluslet. It is now available for use in subject guides from the “add a pluslet” drag and drop interface.

WordPress

  • Added support for embedding m4a files from MiddMedia. Safari users will see the m4a in an HTML5 video player, allowing you to display chapter images. Users of other browsers will see a download link, allowing them to open the file in a desktop application, like iTunes or in the browser window if they have the QuickTime plugin installed.
  • Added WP RSS Images plugin which adds image enclosures to the blog’s RSS feed. If you set a Featured Image on the post, it will be added as an enclosure in the feed. See the Middlebury Magazine feed for an example.
  • Added the OnSwipe plugin which enables a special WordPress theme for iPads. See MiddBlog for an example.
  • We have removed the cforms plugin that allowed you to create custom forms in WordPress. This has been replaced by webforms in Drupal.
  • The BLOGS DOT MIDDLEBURY bar at the top of the page will not be displayed for blogs whose URL does not include sites.middlebury.edu. We have the ability, using a domain mapping plugin, to host sites on our instance of WordPress that display a different domain name in the address bar. Since these don’t appear as part of sites.middlebury.edu, that bar doesn’t get displayed.
  • Plugins updated: wptouch, geo-mashup
  • WordPress version update: 3.1.4 (security release)

Weekly Web Development Round-up April 25-29, 2011

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

To give our colleagues a better idea of what’s changed in our web applications each week, we’ll be preparing this quick list for publication each Friday. Not all of the details of each change are included below, but we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have in the comments.

Drupal:

  • A bug that caused file upload replacements to fail has been resolved. You can now replace an existing file by editing its file upload node and uploading a new version of the file, even one with the same filename.
  • TIFF images have been added to the list of allowed file types.
  • Added a Google Calendar content type that can be used to embed Google Calendars on pages of the site. MIIS has been using this for their events calendar for some time.
  • The cache files for RSS feeds are now kept in the same location as other cache files, meaning that the feeds will be refreshed with the same periodicity as other features on the site.
  • The full URL of the result page will now be shown below each search result. This was a suggestion we received from the Site Search Satisfaction Survey.
  • We’re now keeping usage data on site search so we can better analyse how its various features are working.
  • Updated the calendar template so that promotional calendars work properly when linking to the originating calendar.
  • On the “business card” style list of profiles, the person’s name will now link to their specific profile instead of the page their profile appears on to handle the case where multiple profiles appear on a single page.

GO:

  • The “my codes” area now lists your codes alphabetically for easier management. Thanks to Chris Norris for this suggestion.
  • “Superadmins” now have additional features available when moderating flagged codes and for determining whether or not a code appears in the site search suggestions.

MiddLab:

Lots of new student project in MiddLab this week from the Spring Symposium. You can follow MiddLab on Twitter and get alerted to new projects as they are added.