Project Botticelli

New video player with playback speed control

9 February 2018 · 2 comments · 318 views

Bigger upgrades behind the scenes

Our last weekend’s deployment included work that we have started almost exactly a year ago: a major rework of our online video player. Following six good years of using JW Player technology, we have outgrown it at last. Further, JW have moved in a different direction, focusing more on their back-end and less on the player, which unfortunately cost us a few months of Android issues… I was not happy, either, with the way that player ”called home” when used. As you know if you have followed me over the years, protecting your privacy and your data has always been my key priority—hence we have never used Google Analytics (we use self-hosted Matomo), nor have we ever placed advertising, or various data-greedy “like” buttons on our site. By the way, it all has made compliance with the upcoming GDPR much easier, but we will still need to update our T&Cs, more about that later.

One of the other immediate benefits of using the new player, which is now based on the video.js library, is that we can offer video playback speed controls, a feature that has been requested a while ago. You can listen faster, at up to twice the normal speed, to skim sections you are familiar with, or you can slow down, in case you want to tease out what was exactly said. There will be more playback and learning experience enhacements throughout the year, as I work with my small but capable team.

All in all, we also wanted to be back in control of our video player features, whilst benefiting from our existing, top-shelf content delivery network (CDN), and our own video encoding and streaming platform. Call me biased, but I think we encode video to a much higher visual standard both in terms of overall resolution—more than most online video training sites—but also performance: when you Jump to a chapter, assuming you have a reasonably modern connection, you should see the video seek in about 1 second, no matter how far you go. On slightly slower connections, like 3G, this should take no more than 3–4 seconds max.

I am pleased to say that the new player has also enabled good playback on Android devices (using its built-in Chrome) and we have full coverage across the board, with the unfortunate exception of Internet Explorer 11, which, having been formally deprecated by Microsoft, is unlikely to get more love. Supporting IE11 would mean going back to the security horrors of Adobe Flash, and that is not something I want to wish onto anyone! If you happen to use IE11, do yourself a favour and switch to Edge (if you prefer Microsoft browsers), Firefox (superb overall browser), or Chrome (not my favourite, but used by the majority)—unless you have a Mac, in which case Safari will give you a more secure, fast, and reliable experience than all the other browsers put together, in my subjective opinion.

If you experience any issues with the playback, any errors that make no sense in your context, excessive stalling, or if you have any other suggestions, please ping me. I wish to make your viewing experience as good as I can. Catch me at Oh, and enjoy the new videos!



AnaBisbe · 11 February 2018

Great news !! Thanks Rafal

Rafal Lukawiecki · 11 February 2018

Thank you, Ana, much appreciated. :)