Saturday, December 15, 2007

How to put HD video on the web with latest flashplayer

First I want to make it clear that I am all for open web standards and requiring the latest flashplayer for showing some video on your site always degrades the user experience, no matter how much effort you put into avoiding that. So if you wanna depend on latest flashplayer, there must be a strong reason for it. Flashplayer 9.0.125 (released about a week ago) offering high quality codecs (h264/HE-AAC) might be such as strong reason, the audio/video quality is excellent and filesize of the videofiles is relatively small. Here the required steps to produce such a video and how to put it on a webpage without degrading the user experience too much.

Let's assume you already have your original video file in high quality and large file size, either form a HD video camera, a screen recording application or most probably as a result of post processing with a video editing software.

First you must transcode your media to h264 video / HE-AAC audio and put it in a mp4 fileformat. I assume there exists some software from Adobe which does that for you, but I am not familiar with their current commercial offerings. In my case I put together an open source toolchain to perform the transcoding.

Now you have the video as a *.mp4 file. Next you need to prepare your website to embed the video with a flash videoplayer (there are others which work equally well, just the code below probably neds to be slightly modified). The tricky part is that you require the latest flashplayer, so I suggest embedding via Javascript and with SwfObject, that allows to upgrade to the latest flashplayer via Adobe ExpressInstall, if Javascript is enabled. And what if Javascript is not enabled or not available at all ? There is a solution for that: "Extended" markup, which results in either the video or an alternative content (bur no easy upgrade via flashplayer ExpressInstall). Here the embedding steps in detail:

Load swfobject.js (Javascript library):
<script type="text/javascript" src="{{ path }}/swfobject.js"></script>
Register the video (via Javascript):
<script type="text/javascript">
swfobject.registerObject("{{ video-DOM-ID }}", "9.0.115", "{{ path
Extended HTML markup for embedding video:
<object id="{{ video-DOM-ID }}"
classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" width="800"
<param name="movie" value="{{ path }}/mediaplayer.swf">
<param name="allowfullscreen" value="true">
<param name="menu" value="false">
<param name="flashvars" value="file={{ path_to_video }}&image={{
<!--[if !IE]>-->
<object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="{{ path
}}/mediaplayer.swf" width="800" height="620">
<param name="allowfullscreen" value="true">
<param name="menu" value="false">
<param name="flashvars" value="file={{ path_to_video }}&image={{
<h2>To view the video:</h2>
<a href="">
<img src=""
alt="Get Adobe Flash player">
<!--[if !IE]>-->

  • all {{ path }} variables need to be replaced with the actual path or URL where you have your static content.
  • {{ path_to_video }} : the path or URL of the actual video file
  • {{ path_to_preview_image }} : path or URL of a preview image

Friday, December 14, 2007

ErlyComet article and screencast

Today my article "Getting started with Comet on Erlang" got published at CometDaily, there is also a screencast there (scroll down there, to the ErlyComet section) if you prefer to watch and listen ...

Update: Some users could not load the screencast / did not like to get asked for upgrading the flashplayer. I halfway expected this. It's not that I haven't put in efforts to avoid that kind of bad user experience, but my efforts apparently failed. Let me explain in detail: the video is encoded in h264/HE-AAC and that only works on flashplayer 9.0.125. If the flashplayer is not the very latest one, a dialog should inform the user (and provide direct link) to upgrade the flashplayer, if he wishes to watch the video. Uploading the original QuicktTime screencast to youtube or google video results in bad, mostly unreadable text quality, similar to all those RubyOnRails screencasts which have been originally recorded in QuickTime.
Nevertheless, here is the google video version (bad quality).

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Erlang TextMate integration - Documentation lookup

I have made some progress with ErlyMate, my pet project for adding first class Erlang support to TextMate. Based on a new architecture with an Erlang background server (starts and stops together with TextMate, wrote a Cocoa plugin for that) I implemented a very first and highly experimental approach of edoc lookup. More technical details can be found at the googlecode project page.

And here a screencast to show you how it looks and feels like (requires latest flashplayer, and asks you to upgrade to it, if you don't have it, because video is h264/HE-AAC encoded):

To view the ErlyMate screencast:

Get Adobe Flash player

Monday, December 10, 2007

Rubinius - the next generation Ruby virtual machine

The guys at Engine Yard, a RubyOnRails application hosting company are serious about solving the Ruby performance issues (Ruby is interpreted) and they are developing a virtual machine. Straight from the Rubinius homepage:
Rubinius draws on the best virtual machine research and technology of the past 30 years and incorporates the newest research in dynamic language implementations. Rubinius implements the core libraries in Ruby, providing a system that is much more accessible, easier to develop and to extend.
And what's in the bag for an Ex-Ruby-developer (Ruby it is a great language, but since I am comfortable with Erlang, I don't have any use for Ruby anymore ...) ? Well, TextMate, my preferred editor has a lot of its functionality implemented as Ruby scripts, and if they run faster with Rubinius, that's fine for me.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Benchmark - ErlyWeb vs. RubyOnRails

Yariv Sadan, the author of ErlyWeb, has benchmarked his Erlang MVC web framework against RubyOnRails 2.0 and according to his results, ErlyWeb is outperforming RubyOnRails by factor 47. [Corrected: it's 6 now, see Update]

If Ruby is on Rails, than ErlyWeb is on rocket engines !

Update: This number is far too good to be true ! In fact, Yariv had Mongrel running in non-production mode, in his corrected version the ErlyWeb outperforming factor went down to 6.