Blooming Cacti

Bring life to a barren, technological wasteland

Updating VideoHub: Introduction

I have an aversion to depending on third party websites to serve my content. I don't mind using them (how else would I actually have a site on the internet, if I didn't have a web host) but I don't like being absolutely dependent on them.

So, YouTube has always presented me with a bit of a conundrum. It's very convenient but if I were to use it extensively and it were to change or go down, all of my hosted videos would disappear.

Several years, I created a site I called VideoHub to get around this problem. It was designed to do two things:

  1. Show a new post for each family movie I created, allowing me to post them and allowing others to view them. It is, of course, RSS enabled so that you can subscribe to new videos.
  2. Generate a podcast/vodcast compatible RSS feed, so that you could subscribe to the videos in iTunes and auto download them. For geographically remote family members, this is an absolute necessity.
  3. Serve both a high quality and low quality vodcast feed. For geographically remote family members with poor internet connections, this is also an absolute necessity.

The site still works well for all of these goals. But it’s gotten a bit long in the tooth and needs both maintenance and enhancement. It needs maintenance because it doesn’t work well in a world of iPads and iPhones and is still heavily dependent on flash. It needs enhancement because it’s still too much of a pain to add new videos to the site.

I’m leaning towards rewriting the site in Jekyll. Because Jekyll creates static HTML pages, I can speed up the site eliminate a PHP dependency. I can code the site’s logic in Ruby, without having to actually run Ruby on my server.

I think can code scripts that will do much of the work of generating a new Jekyll post and then upload everything to the server. That will make creating a new post a much more fire and forget experience.

I’ll also switch to using VideoJS, or something like it, to embed the video files. This will give me direct MP4 playback for Safari, Chrome, and IE9+. I have no intention of creating, uploading, and hosting OGM versions of my videos, which creates a problem for users of Firefox and Opera. VideoJS will give me a Flash fallback for these browsers.

Now, I just need to find the time to make it happen.