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Better video playback

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Posted 3 years ago

Our current video system has some problems:

  • It requires Flash, which means it won't play on iPads, phones, and so on.
  • The interface is a bit buggy and awkward.

We've had this system for ages. At the time, it seemed like a good decision; but the end result is poor by today's standards. It does weird things sometimes, like continuing to play the video after you close the overlay. You have to select the video resolution, which doesn't always work correctly.

We are moving our video hosting to Vimeo. This will solve all those problems.

  • It's Vimeo, so it works basically everywhere.
  • I've always liked the look of the Vimeo player. It's simple but attractive.
  • I can throw away a bunch of nasty code I had to write to get the current system working.
  • Vimeo's pricing gives me unlimited plays, which means I can provide more free videos without living in fear of a huge bandwidth bill.

Vimeo also recently implemented adaptive bitrate switching, which is fancy tech that automatically provides the best-quality video that your device / connection can handle. You can always override this selection. Also, Vimeo streams the video in a more "tolerant" way than our current setup, which means if you're having trouble with your connection you can pause the video and wait for the next section to download.

Serving video on the web is an extremely complex technical challenge. Handing this off to a reliable third party makes my life easier, and the video playback will be better.