Thursday, April 28, 2011

ShortForm: Mix and Share the World's Videos

By Jereme Monteau, Lead Developer at ShortForm

(Cross-posted from the Google Code blog, where it is a part of Who's at Google I/O, a series of guest blog posts written by developers who are appearing in the Developer Sandbox at Google I/O.)

ShortForm is a new entertainment medium where you find continuous channels of the best videos, curated by a growing community of VJs. At ShortForm you can be a viewer, a VJ, or both. Viewers subscribe to channels of interest, lean back, and enjoy a continuous stream of videos. VJs mix and share the world’s best videos into continuous channels.



The developers at ShortForm worked with various YouTube Data APIs in order to deliver both the Viewer and VJ experience.  

Standard Feeds and User Playlists:  ShortForm makes it easy and fun for anyone to VJ a channel. We also auto-curate a select set of channels to surface mainstream content that would appeal to most audiences. For example, our YouTube Hits channel includes content from the standard YouTube video feeds such as Top Rated, Most Viewed and Most Popular. ShortForm developed a system for retrieving video entries and their associated metadata, and then ordering them in playlists based on a ranking algorithm.

Favorites and Uploads:  ShortForm allows VJs to import their YouTube favorites and uploads into their channels quickly and easily by authenticating via YouTube’s OAuth provider. Once a user has connected their ShortForm account to their YouTube account, we are able to allow them to import their favorites and uploads through an authenticated call to the YouTube Data API. In the future we will streamline the process of uploading videos to YouTube by allowing VJs to upload videos to YouTube directly from ShortForm while adding those videos to their ShortForm channel in the same flow.



Player API:  Providing a seamless channel viewing experience on ShortForm requires that we integrate tightly with YouTube’s JavaScript API to the ActionScript 3 player. This allows us to properly handle video events to ensure continuous playback. Users have full control over their viewing experience using the next and previous video buttons, which load videos into the YouTube player. We have also begun integrating with the new iframe API interface that is currently in beta and have seen promising results in our initial tests across desktop and mobile platforms.

Android Tablet: Tablet computing represents an exciting opportunity for ShortForm to provide a first class viewing experience in a new package. We have begun testing and looking for places to optimize the viewing experience on tablet devices.

ShortForm Widget: Our embeddable widget syntax was inspired by YouTube’s new iframe embed syntax. We believe this is the simplest, most flexible and most powerful way to allow our users to embed their channels anywhere on the web.

We are thrilled to be a part of Google I/O and in order to demonstrate the power of ShortForm, we are putting together a Google I/O Sandbox channel, a continuous channel of product pitches and demos from companies represented in the I/O Developer Sandbox. We invite all Sandbox companies to submit a video of their product pitch or demo.  Details can be found at the ShortForm at Google I/O page. Well use the channel to preview cool companies in the Sandbox before the conference. The channel will also provide media members with a summary of all the technology from all sandbox companies.

Lastly, we are going to have a little fun and invite all attendees to vote on their favorite pitches and demos. Submit your video on the ShortForm at Google I/O page. We’ll surface a leaderboard showing videos with the top votes, and the winning entry will be highlighted in a press release and will get prime placement on ShortForm’s homepage for one week, reaching hundreds of thousands of people.  


Come see ShortForm in the Developer Sandbox at Google I/O on May 10-11.

As a founding member of ShortForm Jereme has been hacking around with the YouTube APIs for over a year now and has been building software for 15 years. When he’s not coding he’s probably trail running or roasting his own coffee while eagerly anticipating the arrival of his first child in June!