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October 7, 2009

Creating links to auto-populate the form fields

If you are familiar with the method of passing variables through the URL string, this technique may prove of some value to you. We have been using this internally with one of our partners tools over the past year and have just received a request for this same functionality so I thought I would post it here in case others could benefit as well.

The variables to pass to VideoANT are: videoTitle, email, and videoURL.

The string must be "escaped" like the example you see below:
http://ant.umn.edu/vae.php?videoTitle=mahna+mahna&email=bhosack%40umn.edu&videoUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fmediamill.cla.umn.edu%2Fmediamill%2Fdownload.flv%2F18225.mov

The advantage of this is if you have a video URL and you want this video annotated by someone else, you can create your own link to send to this person so that they click once and have the form auto-populated so that they can jump right to annotating without much effort on the front end.

Make sure to use their email address instead of your own in the URL string, and let them know they can edit or modify the form once they have clicked your link in case it doesn't quite meet their needs!

The XML behind your content

A recent request came up for access to the raw text that gets entered into a projects annotations. I have developed a number of primitive tools over the past year that I have been using for internal purposes. In light of this request I am releasing these pages to the public for your own consumption as they cannot be used to edit your content but are simple ways to gain access to the content you develop. Keep in mind they are nothing fancy aesthetically, but are quite functional in nature :)

I recommend that faculty utilize this first page to extract the raw data entered into the system as a back-up should it be necessary. It also is a great way to render the annotations so they can be searched using a browsers built-in search functionality. Below you will see two links that are quite similar:

EDIT In VideoANT:
http://ant.umn.edu/vae.php?pid=1254943410

Same project extracted:
http://ant.umn.edu/extractANT.php?pid=1254943410

In other words, change the EDIT link from your projects email from vae.php to extractANT.php and leave everything else in place and you get a raw text dump. The time is coded here in seconds so you will get giant numbers that need converted if you want to know their amount in minutes. We have some tools that use this code and need the time in total seconds or I would do this automagically with the php. It is very raw.

You can also get this same data as an XML feed if you would ever need that for any reason:
http://ant.umn.edu/select.php?pid=1254943410

Same deal, change the EDIT URL to "select.php" instead of "vae.php" and you get the proxy XML. You may need to view source on that link if your browser does not include default XSLT treatment. This version of the data is "escaped" meaning that the text is in unicode which needs converted in order to be read legibly. The extractANT.php was developed for folks that needed simplistic access to the content. For those that have a use for developing around the XML feed, you can use the "select.php" version for your needs if desired.

Hopefully this is somewhat useful!

February 23, 2009

Password protection and privacy rights

Some of you out there are using password protected videos and/or secure URLs that require certificate authentication. Until I am able to build in error support to notify users when they need to first log in, the tell-tale indicator is a blank VideoANT interface when visiting the edit or view-only site links. If this is the case, and you are a UMN staff/faculty/student, simply visit another site that requires accepting that same certificate (e.g., umcal, gophermail) and sign in with your x500. If you are using this tool external to UMN let me know and we can try and troubleshoot the issue.

November 11, 2008

Embedding VideoANT

I added a new embed feature that allows you to embed a smaller player into any page of your choosing. It is the same width as a standard youtube player, but it is a touch taller so that it can properly display the annotations below. If it has any bugs please feel free to drop me an email or comment to this blog entry.

To use it, simply create a new VideoANT and add your annotations accordingly. In the automagically generated email you receive there is now a new link that launches a webpage with some HTML code in it. Simply copy the black text and paste it anywhere you would paste a youtube video and it will show your project! This could include Wiki's, blogs, myspace comments, etc. See the sample below!





To edit them, all you have to do is make edits to your project using the EDIT link in your email and the changes you make will appear in the embedded player!

You will need to refresh the page that the embedded player is on to show the new changes you have made. But the nice thing is that it updates everywhere. This means that if you have the same project embedded in multiple sites, you will only have to make changes once to the EDIT page of your project and the results will update for all of your embedded players!

January 28, 2008

Flash Video Files (*.FLV)

It has been brought to my attention that not everyone is familiar with FLV as a video file type. I thought I would take the time to go through a few ideas and details on ways to get your video content prepared for annotations through VideoANT.

First, I should mention that the URL you paste in VideoANT requires the termination in ".flv". Since VideoANT is still in it's beta stages, we currently only support Flash Video files posted online. VideoANT does not provide hosting or upload capabilities. It is simply a tool that allows you to annotate a Flash Video you have posted on the server of your choice, or a video that someone has shared with you. In the future we will be adding an extensive list of features including support for youtube URL's, and a wider range of video file types, but for the first release we are limiting the types to only FLV.

There are a number of ways to create or acquire FLV's, and I will leave you to finding the solution that is right for you by searching google. Here at the University of Minnesota, we utilize a service through the College of Libereal Arts called Media Mill. It is an online repository developed and supported as a archival video derivation tool that allows for the uploading of original video of any type, and to then produce or convert that video to a video type of your choice. We have been using this system as a means of allowing our faculty and students the ability to host their video content, and transform it into an FLV with short keyframes making them ideal candidates for VideoANT.

There is also the ability to use sites suchas http://www.keepvid.com to download FLV's from sites like Youtube, and to then retitle the file and post it to a server of your choice. From there you are able to use the new URL to your file as a link to point your annotation project at.