Making Universal Subtitles work with new sites, new video players

Universal Subtitles now supports videos on Blip.TV in addition Youtube and HTML5.  But it’s a bit of a hack: we’re using the vidscraper library to get the direct link to the flash video file, and loading that in FlowPlayer.

This has a bunch of disadvantages.  By removing the hosting site’s player from the equation, we’re messing up their advertising models, their sharing tools, and their whole plan for user interaction.  Yuck.  The blip folks are awesome and don’t mind, but it’s clearly not ideal.

But to make Universal Subtitles work with peoples’ own video players (the way we do with Youtube) there are a few things we need that many video players still don’t provide (for example, the player needs to give our widget the current playback position from the video, and let us skip to any point in the video).  The Youtube API makes this easy, so it was easy to support Youtube “the right way”.  And the ideal of course is for sites to make videos available in browser-playable formats like Theora or WebM.  Most other large video sites, however, aren’t doing this yet.

Until they do, the benefits of accessibility alone clearly outweigh the disadvantages of pulling the video URL into our own player.   For the millions of viewers with auditory disabilities, captions are a necessity.  We don’t think any video service will object to people switching video players in order to view (or contribute) captions.

And if sites want full compatibility with Universal Subtitles, there is a simple way for them to make that happen: check out supporting other video players in the github wiki.  It outlines the API we need, and where things stand for supporting some popular sites.

Once your site’s video player meets these criteria, we can support your site.

And of course, since all our code is free and open source, the fastest (and best!) way to make us support your site is to submit a patch!

3 thoughts on “Making Universal Subtitles work with new sites, new video players

  1. Booger Bender

    Aye, I agree most certainly we all need the entire Internet to be captioned. I believe the Developers on this project are working hard at bringing a release version soon once all the bugs, beta testing, and feature requests are ironed out. We’re all accepting anyone and everyone to the project. Don’t ever feel any question is a silly one. This is a place where everyone can make it happen. Your voice is heard Hedaru. Thank you for your input mate. We value public feedback during the project testing phases.

    Best wishes to you,

    Booger Bender

  2. holmes

    Yeah– we might be able to add ustream pretty soon, though our system wouldn’t work well for live video without significant adaptations.

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