John Underwood is a Technical Evangelist at ThreeWill. He has nearly thirty years of software development experience. He is an experienced technical instructor with superior presentation skills and is proficient in delivering standard curriculum as well as developing and delivering custom curriculum.
Good afternoon folks, John Underwood here coming to you from the ThreeWill offices in Alpharetta, Georgia, just north of Atlanta. I hope you’re having a great day wherever you are. It’s a very pretty day here. Surprisingly mild for this time in August. I want to thank you for blocking off some time to spend with me today. I always feel this responsibility that people are going to take time away from their busy days that hopefully I can bring something that will be of value to you. I have to confess that I am kind of excited about the content I’m going to cover today. I think it’s some cool aspects of SharePoint that have been a little under-reported to this point. I hope you’ll walk away from the experience knowing a little more about that.
Many of you have been to our webinars before. If you’re in that category I want to thank you so much for coming back. If you are new to our broadcast, again, my name is John Underwood. I feel real fortunate to be an employee of ThreeWill. It’s a great company filled with great people. I hold the title there of technical evangelist. I really get to wear a lot of hats. I do public speaking. I do video production, and also do a lot of hands-on with technology. Hopefully that will come through today that I’m not just a speaker, but I’m someone that actually works with these tools and I can bring some real-world examples to them.
You can see a couple of contact points there, my email address and my Twitter handle. Also I’m lucky enough to be working on the ThreeWill labs team here, a group of folks that are doing some research investigation building, assets all toward the end of helping our engineers and our customers be more successful. Not only will you find some fun things on my Twitter feed but also some interesting things on ThreeWill labs. I hope you’ll take advantage of both of those.
Then if you want to know a little more about me and what I do for the company and perhaps what I can do for your company, just check out my bio there at threewill.com/junderwood. The biggest thing that I do for our customers outside of these kinds of events is that I do conduct training from time to time. That’s something that I’m real passionate about and I truly enjoy doing.
One last thought. I hope you won’t have to leave us early today. But if you do just note that today’s broadcast is being recorded and it will be available at vimeo.com/threewill. Also if you have friends, coworkers, et cetera, that you think might be interested in this content and for whatever reason they were unable to attend today, then I would certainly encourage you to pass that link along to them as well.
Now whenever I present I always feel compelled to talk a little bit to the audience, and where you might fit in that audience, and what you can hope to get out of today’s presentation. First off, if you’re more in the business leader role or you’re a user of SharePoint or maybe you are in IT management, then the thing I want you to take away from today’s presentation is just understanding how much more important video content is becoming in our world.
I can give you a perfect example. I was working with a friend earlier in the week. They had some questions about Excel. I was about to walk them through this process of doing something and the guy had his pen and paper ready in hand and my reaction was, “Well, why try to write down these 800 steps. Let me just do a screencast and put it up where you can get to it and then you can have a permanent reference to that.”
Of course that’s on a very small scale. To a much bigger scale we see PR videos, training videos, all these different kinds of things. They really are an important asset more and more inside of our company. If you’re in a leadership role really what today is hopefully going to do is not only show you the importance of that, but show you that if you have SharePoint 2013 close by you’ve got a good tool already in hand to begin to address that challenge with your users and customers.
If you’re an administrator, I think what you’re going to find today is that this is mostly an easy story. The things that I’m going to show you about SharePoint today are going to be out of the box things that you could do in pretty much any installation, and really the only technical challenge would just would be to be sure that your storage is capable of storing whatever amount of videos you might think you’re going to need to store.
Then for the developers in the audience while I won’t be doing any developer style apps or customizations today I hope what you’ll get out of this is just now that you know that the infrastructure is in place you’ll be able to imagine and think about what kinds of customizations you could build on top of that. In fact, that’s something that I’m going to mention as we get closer to the end of the presentation. I’ll talk about some opportunities for customization and how you might be able to take advantage of that. Again, whichever audience profile you fit into or maybe than one I hope you’ll be able to take away some good information.
With all of that introduction and setup what are we going to talk about today? First off, I’m going to take just a little side trip and I’m going to talk a bit about content types and document sets. That’s really going to be a setup so to speak for some things that we’re going to learn about videos. Then we’re going to get to the actual videos themselves. In particular, I’m going to talk about the different parts of a video. Now at a simple level you and I might think about well it’s a video and it’s a file and that’s that. But I think you’ll see very quickly that that’s not exactly the case, that there really is more to the story than just a little DMV file or an MOV file or whatever format you happen to be using.
Once we’ve talked about the parts of the video then we’re going to talk a little bit about creating a video library. I guess maybe that name could be a little misleading. What we’re really going to create is a SharePoint library that is finely tuned for serving at videos. We’re going to see that there are series of features that if we properly enable and configure them it will take what we have followed as a library in the past and turn it into something that’s really good at presenting video content.
Then from there we’ll talk a little bit about playback. Really this will have two aspects. I’m going to show you a lot of features that we have in the new and improved SharePoint 2013 video player. We’ll also talk about some technical matters of supporting clients and the way that it does things in the hopes that maybe we’ll come out of this with a scenario where we can cover as many audience members as possible. I think you’re going to see that. I think there’s a real good story going on here about the technology of how they’ve implemented video playback.
Then from there we’re going to talk a little bit about search. While we can create a library that’s got compelling videos and we may even have some other user interface tricks that we want to use to serve those up in the end people are going to have to be able to find them, and by and large the search engine is going to be the most effective way for that to happen. Again, we’re going to talk about and demonstrate some features of search and video in SharePoint 2013 and how those come together.
Now while this may seem slightly off topic it is kind of foundational to what I’m going to talk about over the next few moments. Let me talk to you briefly about content types. Whenever you create a list or a library in SharePoint whether or not you’re aware of this each one of those lists and libraries has one or more underlined content types that it’s going to consume or implement. When you think about content types I know there are two groups in the world, those that use them and understand them and those that probably don’t even care that they exist.
What I want you to take away from what I’m trying to tell you about content types here is just the following. When we start talking about video content there are certain kinds of content types that are going to come into play. What that means for you and I as we go through this ultimately I wanted to create a library that was well suited toward serving up these bits of videos. If I’m going to do that then I’m going to have to have some knowledge of the content types that are involved. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to create my own. It just means that I’m going to consume some that are already available to me in SharePoint. When we get to that part of the demonstration I’ll make sure and highlight where that comes into play.
Now somewhat related it’s this idea of a document set. Now if you’ve not seen document sets let me just say editorially as an aside they’re awesome and you ought to be using them. They’ve been available to us since SharePoint 2010. Very briefly what is a document set. Well it’s a way for you to take multiple documents in a library and bind them together into a single entity. The analogy I frequently use to describe them it’s like a virtual folder. When you want to treat those documents as individual entities you can do so, and when you want to treat them as a single entity you can do so. A classic example here let’s say that you’re going to do a sale proposal and every single sales proposal includes a PowerPoint for the presentation, a memo describing the terms and then a spreadsheet that has all of the numbers. Well, we could create a document set that would hold all of those as a single entity.
Now why do I bother bringing this up on a presentation about videos? Well, here’s why. When we look at the video improvements that we have in SharePoint 2013 the document set kind of serves as a foundation for understanding how SharePoint is going to manage those videos. To put that in a more precise way the video isn’t just a file sitting in a library. Instead it is potentially many files or multiple files that have been grouped together to represent this entity that we’re going to know as a video.
I emphasized that for two reasons. Number one, it will help you understand it, but number two, if you think back to times past you may have actually created a document library before and then dumped a bunch of video files in there and at some point they really weren’t any different than Word documents or PDFs or anything else you’d ever put in a SharePoint library. They just sat there waiting for somebody to play them. But in SharePoint 2013 just the very fact that it’s a video and that it’s been set up in a certain way is going to make the experience easier and more accessible and more compelling for your user. I hope as we go through and I demonstrate this for you you’ll kind of see that come to life.
Then given this mechanism that I’ve said is somewhat like a document set for a video the implication there is that when we have a video we’re going to have more than one thing that’s associated with that. That’s what this slide is about, what are the parts that are going to make up our videos. Well first off, the video itself. Generally that’s going to come in one of two forms. It’s either going to be a physical file like a DMV or an MOV or an MP4. Maybe it’s a file that I created or maybe it’s a file that I purchased or required. The second alternative is it’s a link to an asset that lives somewhere else. Maybe it lives elsewhere in SharePoint or maybe it lives on a streaming site like Vimeo or YouTube.
I think that’s an important distinction because one of the challenges that customers face is this idea of managing space and not having 15 copies of a video throughout our company. The way I kind of take this away is if you’ve already got a server that houses all your videos and you’re just looking for a great way to serve them up and present them, this is going to be great, it’s going to be a perfect set for you. Likewise, if you have a bunch of video files and you need to upload them into SharePoint and manage them there, great. You’re going to be able to do that as well. As I go through the demonstration here in just a moment I’ll show you both of these and how they’re going to work.
Now beyond the actual video content itself for sake of making compelling presentation we also want to have a thumbnail associated with our videos. Now most of us when we think of a thumbnail we just think of a screenshot that came from somewhere in the video. In fact, if you upload the most streaming site it’ll just kind of randomly take a frame and make that a thumbnail and then you may or may not have a choice on that. What you’re going to see here is that we do have some choices and some pretty interesting options.
Bottom line is that I think sometimes the thumbnail is not given the level of importance that maybe it’s due, because think about it, in a lot of cases if your users are scanning across a page and they’re looking at these little thumbnails for the videos what you have on that thumbnail may or may not be the thing that would trigger them to pause and say, “Uh, this is the thing that I’m looking for.” I mean this in a serious way, but it really is kind of some eye candy to entice them to linger there a little bit and investigate more what this thing is about.
Another part of a video that we’re going to upload some series of user-supplied properties. It seems reasonable to me that at a minimum we’d want to know the name of the video. We probably like a description of what it’s about. Perhaps we’d like some keywords associated with this that would let us tag this thing to be used in a certain way. Maybe we’d like some verbiage transcription of what was in it. Maybe even we’d like to know who’s in it. All of these kinds of things get wrapped together with the video when we put it into SharePoint.
Another part of a video that we’re going to consider over the next few moments different renditions of the video. If you’re not familiar with that term rendition you’re certainly familiar with what it means, and that is different resolution levels. Just like when I go on YouTube and depending on the kind of network connection I’m on and other factors I may have different choices of resolutions. We can do the exact same thing here, so if we have users that need to be on a lower bandwidth solution we could easily provide that to them.
Then the last part would be what I call assets or documents that are related to the video. A classic example, well, think about what I’m doing today. I’m creating a video of this presentation that I’m giving to you right now and at some point when I begin to share that video I probably would also want to give people the ability to download the slide deck that goes with it and any other assets that I might have used in the presentation. We’re going to see that these get bundled with the video when SharePoint allows you to do this sort of thing. Again, that goes back to our document set model, the video and all of its surrounding parts or files.
Then with all of that setup how do you create video library? Well, I’ve titled that video library because that’s what we ultimately want to use it for. But in some respects what we’re really doing is just creating a document library that has some certain characteristics. The first characteristic that our library is going to need to have is going to need to support a variety of content types. You can see those listed there. As you look at those you can map them back to the things that I talked about on the previous slide. As an example, the audio, or the video, or the video rendition, those all map back to the content that we’re going to stream. Rendition just gives us an alternate rendering of it. I said that we might want to have a specific thumbnail. Well, that’s what the image is about. I said that we might want to upload a supporting PowerPoint deck. Well, that’s what the document is about. The library needs to have specific support for all of these content types.
Another thing that’s optional but I would argue would be an important part of trying to create a useful video library is enabling the ratings. This is already baked into SharePoint. All you’ve got to do is turn it on. By turning this on really what you’re allowing your community to do is to vote on the video in such a way that it might make the better videos easier to find. Again, we’re not being mean and saying some of the videos are awful. Really this is just more about relevance. I looked at this video, it answered a problem, I want to vote it up so that my fellow workers would be more likely to see it. Again, it’s laughably simple. We’re going to turn on an option and we’ll have that capability.
Then from there another optional thing we want to add to our library is support for enterprise metadata and keywords. The idea here is that we could do one of two things. We could allow users to begin to tag our videos in a folksonomy or we could use a formal taxonomy to categorize the videos, either to make them easier to find in the search engine or from navigation. Think about a lot of the tube sites that you might go to and they have “channels.” You could actually pretty easily build something where you used managed metadata to categorize your videos into channels and then literally surface those using metadata navigation. You click on a keyword you see all of the videos in that channel.
While I don’t have the time to build that full thing out for you in our demo day I would tell you that I think you could go from zero to really cool in an afternoon. Really you can think about what I’m going to for you for the next few minutes. I’m going to simultaneously describe and build a basic video portal and we’re going to do that in about 45 minutes to an hour. I think that speaks really nicely to how quickly we can spin all of these up.
Now if you are a do-it-yourself type and you want to just go in and turn all of these things on, that’s great, you can do that and it’s not that hard. But what you’re going to find is that there is already a template available to you in SharePoint that will meet this need, and that is an asset library.
Now let me clarify what I mean by that. Most of you that have worked with SharePoint quite a bit, particularly later versions, you’re used to creating a team time and you go in there and there’s already this thing called asset library. The idea with that is users that are going to upload images for their wikipages can store them there. You can store other assets there. That’s all true. But what you need to understand is not only is an asset library something that may be pre-provisioned in your team site, but it’s also a template for creating libraries. That’s what I’m talking about here. What I’m going to do is in effect create a new library. I’m going to use asset library as its template and then I’m going to name it something descriptive for whatever problem I’m trying to solve. In this case serving up videos.
Let me walk you through a demonstration now and show you a little bit about each of these. This demonstration takes a few minutes, but I’ll tell you it’s worth it because it’s really going to allow you the foundation for what we’re trying to accomplish here. The first thing I’m going to do is hop over here and begin doing some work.
Now let me give you a couple of disclaimers here. Anytime you see a demo there’s always a cooking show aspect to it where you tune into the half hour cooking show and they cooked a three-hour turkey. Obviously they had the turkey going before the show started and they pulled it out of the oven piping hot. I’ve done a little bit here to set us up. In particular, I’ve already got some video content elsewhere in the site collection just so that I’m sure we’re going to get some search results later. Again, what I found with videos in Microsoft 365, which is what I’m using here the SharePoint instance, sometimes the search index gets updated very quickly, sometimes it takes a couple of hours. Because we’re not on premises and we can’t just force a crawl I had to make sure we would have something.
The other thing here that you may note that’s a little unusual is that I’m using Chrome instead of Internet Explorer. That is not a political statement of any sort. It’s just that for the demos that I’m going to do for you there is one little thing I’m going to do towards the end that behaves a little bit wonky in Internet Explorer and I just didn’t want to have to deal with that in the demo, so I’ll point that out when I get to it. It’s not a show stopper. It’s just a little bit of annoyance. Just bear those two things in mind.
Having said all of that I’m literally starting with a brand new team site and we’re going to build this content from scratch. The first thing I’m going to do is go to Site Contents and I’m going to add an app. Yes, they call it an app. To me and you it’s still a library as far as I’m concerned. Now if I wanted to scroll through them I certainly could, but in this case I just know that the thing I’m looking for is an asset library so I’ll just type in the word asset and then click on the search icon. You can see there is a template for this kind of library. I’ll go ahead and click on it to select it. Then I’m going to give it a name and I’m just going to call it videos.
You can see I already have a team site here named training. I’ve created a library on it named videos. Now I want to go in and explore a little bit of what I’ve got there. I’ll go ahead and click on the link to my library and then before I begin putting some content into it I want to go have a look at a couple of settings. If I click on the library tab and then from I go to library settings. Now if you’re a real serious SharePoint person you might immediately notice something here that isn’t always visible, and that is this little section right here called content type. If you’re not quite as deep into SharePoint let me just put it this way. All of those content types that I’ve talked to you about earlier that we’re going to come into play we see all but one of them here. The one we don’t see we’ll see a little bit later.
This just tells me that because I used the asset library template I’ve already got the content types configured that I need. In fact, for those of you that wonder where that comes from, if I were to just come up here real quickly and click on advanced settings, there’s an option right here that allows me to turn on or off the management of content types. Usually when you create something like a task list or a document library this is turned off. But in this case it’s turned on and you can see that it’s obviously configured for whatever we need in this case. That’s the first part.
The second part right down here. Notice that there a link for ratings. I’m just going to go in and turn that option on and it defaults to star ratings. You can either do stars or likes. I’m going to do stars in this case. I’ll go ahead and click okay on that. Then if I were going to go all the way through and do my demo with enterprise metadata and keywords I could click on this link and go in and turn on those capabilities as well. Again, for the sake of time I won’t be doing that in this demo, but I just want you to see that it’s there and it’s really easy to get started with that.
Now that I’ve got a library that has the basic capabilities that I need the next thing we want to talk about is uploading some content. I’ll go back into my library and I’ll go and I’ll click on the upload link. Then I’m going to browse out and I’ve got some videos available that I’m going to use here. Again, I just tell you in the cooking show trick technique here I’ve created some smaller versions of a video just so that you and I don’t have to sit and wait a long time for them to upload.
Again, if I had a bigger video that’s fine, I could certainly get through that. But these are small enough that they should upload pretty quickly and we won’t have to spent a lot of time on that. Now you’ll notice in this case I’m uploading an MP4. This could be a WMV. Again, the SharePoint library doesn’t so much about the format. The playback engine may or may not care about the format, and we’ll talk about that a little bit later.
Now obviously this next form that we’re presented with has some things that are specific to video content. I’m not going to hit all of them right now because I’m going to go through those as we go along, but the obvious things here it knows it’s a video, it’s got a name. I probably in the real world would want to provide some kind of meaningful description, so I’ll just say learning about building workflows which is what the video is about. Then from there it has an owner. Then notice these two options. I’ll demo these in action a little bit later, but any time you upload a video you actually have the option to say whether or not you want to allow users to download it and whether or not you want to allow users to embed it. I think that in the right circumstances these are really nice features that you would want to take advantage of.
Another thing that’s kind of cool here if this is a case where the video features people within your company, you could actually go and put in their names. That would be tagged along with that video and would actually help us find the content if we were trying to find it based on the people that appeared in it. Pretty straightforward stuff here. Once I filled in the details to my satisfaction I’ll go ahead and click save.
Now obviously the default view that we get in this asset library that we’re using for video is a little bit different than what we get in a typical library where we just get row after row after row data. Not only that. You’ll notice that if I mouse over these I have a couple of options available to me. I can click on the ellipsis and I can see this little window that gives me some basics about the video, people that are in it. If I wanted to play it right here and just kind of see what’s in there, notice that this gives me a little pop up window and it shows me the content immediately. That’s a pretty nice way to be able to interact with this thing. Then at some future point if I needed to change the properties of this video I could go right here and do so. In fact, I’m going to show you some ways we would use that in just a moment.
Now just so that you can get a balanced look at things let’s now go and link to an external video. In the process of doing that I’ll also show you some information about creating a custom thumbnail. I’m going to pull up another tab here and I’m going to go to the ThreeWill Vimeo site. The shortened video that I just uploaded, the full version of that can actually be found here. It’s waiting for change in workflow. I’m just going to click on that to take me to that page. Then notice I’ve got a share icon up here. If I click on share I can actually go in and get the embed source for this particular video. In this case that’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to check all this information and copy it and then I’m going to go back over here and take advantage of it inside of my video library.
Now the way that I’m going to “upload” this one is a little bit different because I’m not actually uploading a file. I’m not going to be able to use this upload link. You can see it specifically says a document from your computer. Instead what I’ll do is I’ll go to the files tab, I’ll choose new document, and then here I have an option that says upload or link to a video. That’s the one I’ll choose. Now notice once I’ve chosen this one and I get my little pop up window it’s essentially going to say you can either tell me where it is in your computer or you can provide a link directly to the video or you can use embed logic. Obviously I’m doing the later one here.
Let me just point out the subtleties between these two. Essentially if you’re going to provide a link to a video it’s got to be a fully qualified URL to the actual file. Now in the case of some streaming sites like Vimeo, they don’t actually let you surface the link to the file. In that case I would absolutely have to use the embed code. But if you’ve got this thing on a server inside of your company or you’ve got it in another website or you’ve even got in SharePoint, as long as you can get a direct link to it you can use that option. For mine, I’ll choose the third option. I’ll give it a name. I’ll just call it workflow demo video and then I’ll paste my embed code. Then once I’ve done that I’ll click okay.
Now you’ll see that the properties are largely similar here. I’ve got a name, I’ve got a description and so on. For this one I’m just going to go with very basic values for these, for the sake of time. Then I’ll go ahead and save my work. Then if I go back to my library now you can there are my two videos side by side. You’ll notice that if I go to the context menu for this one my options are a little bit different here because this is in effect just a link to a video that lives elsewhere I can’t necessarily treat it in exactly the same way. As an example download is there but it’s grayed out. My little play video is not here or my little play link I should say. So if I’m going to play it I would actually have to go to the video player page which I’m going to show you in just a moment.
Now real quickly before I move on to the next part of the presentation I want to show you a couple of ways that you can do thumbnails. I’m going to start with the first video that I uploaded and I’m going to go edit its properties. Then you’ll notice the link that I passed over a little bit earlier, and that is the link to change the thumbnail. In this case I’ve got three options. I can either capture a thumbnail from the video, or I can use a picture from my computer, or I can provide the URL to a picture that’s elsewhere on the web. For this first one I’ll go and capture a thumbnail. Then notice the procedure here. It’s pretty simple. Basically I’ll go up and play the video until it reaches a point where I’ve got something I want to snap. Then once I’ve got that, I’ll pause, I’ll go up and click on the little camera icon and it will capture that and make it the thumbnail for that video. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. Then once I’ve captured what I like here I’ll go ahead and click save.
Now using a screenshot from a video is a very common thumbnailing technique. What I would say though is that it depends on what’s in the video as to whether that tells a compelling story or not. As an example, when you look at this video in this view, yeah, that’s pretty tiny. Maybe some of you have good enough eyesight that you could read and recognize that it’s what you’re looking for. But I would make the case that at least sometimes it might be better for us to have something that’s more symbolic of the content as opposed to the actual content. Let me use my second video to demonstrate how you might do that.
In this case once again I’m going to edit the properties. Now if you’ll notice in this case when I load this up and click on change thumbnail because this is a video that’s linked somewhere else as opposed to one that’s actually loaded to my site it doesn’t give me the option of snapping a picture. Instead it basically says all right you’re either going to have to upload something or give me the address of something that you want to use. In my case I’m going to upload one from my computer and just choose a little image that I downloaded. Then I’ll click the upload button. Then you can see now that I’ve got a little icon that represents the content of this. Then once I’m happy with that I’ll go down and I’ll click save. Then you see the two options there.
Now again, thinking about trying to make your content more compelling I just have to say I think the one on the right has a greater likelihood of catching someone’s eye so we’re not trying to be trivial about that but that is an important part of video content. I mean it’s a medium we see and so everything is about trying to make it visually compelling to your users. Now I would argue that given what I’ve just shown you and what I’m about to show you on the playback page you’ve got a pretty good start of building a useful video portal. Then as I go along I’m just going to stack more things on top of that to show you how to add more and more functionality.
Let’s continue the presentation now. The next thing we want to see is the video playback page. I don’t know why I’m getting that little artifact there. Let’s see if I can make that stop. Yeah, there we go. You saw earlier that there was a little preview player but there’s also a dedicated page for each video to play on. A couple of reasons you’d want to take advantage of that. One is just that it’s a bigger player. But beyond that it has some other features that you’d want to take advantage of. As an example it’s going to show you all of the metadata and properties that are associated with the video, the name, the description, the people in the video, and so on. Beyond that it’s also going to serve up the opportunity for you to embed that video elsewhere and to download that. Again, remember those were options that you could turn on or off so assuming that those are turned on that’s going to give you a very easy way to share that information with other people. I’ll demonstrate those in just a moment.
Another thing that you get on the video playback page is the ability to select a rendition. Now again I’ve mentioned that in passing but I haven’t gone into the details of that just yet. Before I leave this topic I will definitely explain that fully and even show you how it works in a demonstration. Bottom line is just rendition is about multiple resolutions. I also talked about the fact that you could upload supporting or related assets like a slide deck. Well the video playback page is where you do that. What you’re going to see is that metaphorically each video has its own little miniature document library associated with it where you can upload things. The way that’s really being done as we talked about before is with a variation on a document set.
Then the playback page supports a couple of formats and in fact the preview player does as well. The good news here is that HTML5 is your default player. Now why is that good news? Well assuming for a moment that your users are using a modern browser, this gives us the biggest opportunity to cover as many platforms as possible. Right out of the gate Android phones and tablets, iPhones, iPads, all of these different platforms are now going to be able to access this video that we’re putting up. We’re not going to have to worry about if they have this codex or if they downloaded that. Again, the really good news there is just you don’t have to do anything. As long as you’ve got HTML5 compliant browsers hitting your site you’re in good shape.
Now if you are dealing with platforms that are a little more down level and they don’t support HTML5 then you’re going to be saddled with the responsibility of seeing if Silverlight is an available option for that platform. That’s kind of the fall back player. I think what you’re going to see here is that a) they’ve made a good choice, and b) overtime this is going to be less and less of an issue as more and more platforms, browsers, devices come up to the standard.
Now in terms of the video formats that are supported that’s really tied up into the HTML5 browser or software that you’re using. Depending on the platform it may support DMVs, MP4, MOVs, and then other formats as well. What I generally find, and this is just me and this is what I would call informed opinion, I tend to go with MP4 because all other things being equal I find that that one works on the biggest number of platforms for me. Again, I do have some experience to back that up of creating educational videos for customers and so on. There’s nothing great or terrible in my opinion about any of the formats. They’re all serviceable. But that’s the one I tend to go with, just because I think it has the broadest reach. But if you want to learn more about the specifics of that that would really be something that you’d have to investigate in the context of the platform that you’re supporting and how it supports HTML5.
Now video renditions, I’ve hinted at these a couple of times. It’s pretty simple. It may very well be that somebody who is on a pay as you go wireless plan doesn’t really need to see the highest HD resolution on their phone. It could be that a down level video would be just fine with them. There’s not any kind of auto magic here. It’s not creating the down level for you. As a video content creator you would create a second, third, fourth, however many copies you’d want to have, each one of those at varying levels of resolution and quality.
Now when you configure the video renditions for a certain video you have some options about what it’s going to default to. You can tell it as an example to default to a specific rendition or to default to the one that has the lowest bit rate. Either one of those would be useful depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. Then when it comes to your users, the will certainly get a rendition by default but they have the option to switch. I find that sometimes on sites like YouTube maybe for whatever reason it didn’t default to HD but I’m capable of HD playback and so I’ll go ahead and switch it up to that. The users get to decide.
Let’s go in now and demonstrate some of these items. I’m going to start first with the video that I created and uploaded. If I click on that thumbnail, you’ll see that that takes me over to a dedicated page where the video is located and the video starts playing for me automatically. Some things just to call out here. Notice the section for people in video. Notice that I’ve got a download link here. Also notice that I’ve got ratings. I’ve watched this video, I really like its content, so I’m going to give it a five-star rating. You can see here that it even shows me a count of the number of people that have rated the video.
Going beyond that for a minute when I’m playing I have the usual controls that I would expect of being able to toggle in and out of full screen as an example. Also notice right here my embed link. If I truly wanted to share this elsewhere, in fact I’m going to do that a little bit later, I can click on this link and it will give me the embed code for this particular video.
Now if I go back to for a moment to the previous page and I click on my other video notice that the options are going to look a little bit different here, because in this case what I’ve really done here I’ve just embedded content from another site. It’s not actually being served up from SharePoint. In this case whatever player is being used here it’s being provided by Vimeo and so I don’t have as many options there or if I have as many options they’re going to take a different form. Having said that I do still have the ability to rate videos, I do still have the ability to have related content. In fact, I’m going to show you how that works here in just a moment.
Now once we’ve seen the video player page for both of our videos it might be nice to see a little bit about how we do renditions. Obviously that’s going to apply to the video that I uploaded. I’m going to go once again to the player page for that particular video and then you’ll notice once I arrive on this page there’s a tab at the top. This is manage. I’ll click on the manage tab. Then I’ll go in and manage video renditions. Then I’m going to go and upload another video rendition. In my case I have another file on my computer that’s the same content and really the only difference is that it’s at a lower resolution and it has a watermark on it so that I can easily tell the two apart. I’ll go ahead and select that one and upload it. Then I get the familiar working on it/this shouldn’t take long message. Then there is my content. You can see that it’s selected the right content type. Then I just go through the process of giving it a name, giving it a title, the standard kind of things.
For sake of time here I’m just going to copy and paste the name and make that my title and then I could tag it with some keywords, I can put an author on it, lots of different things that I can provide here. In this case I’m just going to go with the defaults and go ahead and save my work for a second time. Now this particular video has two renditions associated with it. The regular or high resolution one that I already had and then a lower resolution. Then notice what I can do down here. I can say start at the lowest bit rate or I can just say start with the particular ones. In my case I’ve made the decision that I’m going to start with a high resolution video and then allow someone to change it if they want to. I’ll go ahead and save my changes. Then let’s go have a look at what that looks like.
You’ll notice now I’m back on the playback page and if I come over … I’m going to refresh that page because it’s not showing me what I expected it to show me. There we go. Now that I’ve refreshed the page notice that there is a third icon up here for switching rendition. Even though you can’t necessarily see the full name of the rendition if you float your mouse over it it’ll give you a tool tip and you can see there’s my low resolution version. If I had a legitimate reason that I wanted to view that instead I’d simply select it and you can see now that it has switched to the other lower resolution. That’s pretty easy.
Again, it just requires a little planning on your part of what resolutions, what bit rates do I want to support, which ones are going to be good enough to be useful but not so far down level that you’re not going to be able to read anything. I think part of what will drive that is the content. Obviously in the case of the video I’ve done here it’s got a lot of text on it so a lower resolution might not be as easy to pull off.
Let me go now and show you one last feature that I want you to see. That is related to uploading related items. I haven’t done that for you yet. Let’s take the one that I embedded for Vimeo. I’ll go over to its page and the process would be the same on whatever kind of video I’m dealing with. But you’ll notice over here there’s a related section. As I mentioned before it’s almost like a miniature document library that’s associated with this video. I’ll just go and click on the upload link and then I’ve got a little sample PowerPoint deck here that will say represents the supporting slides for this workflow presentation that was done earlier. First of all, I’ll need to tell the kind of content that it is and in this case it is a document. Then once again I’ll just copy the name and I’ll use that for the title as well. Then I’ll go ahead and click save.
Then the nice thing about this now is that any time somebody navigates to the playback page for this video not only will they see all of the other things that we’ve already talked about, they’ll also see this related content. They could come over here and easily preview it, they could open it in PowerPoint online or even download it to their computer. Again, as someone who’s done a lot of things over the years where there’s a video and then some supporting files associated with it this related content thing is just a really cool way to be able to serve things up.
Let me continue on now to the next section of my presentation. We’ll talk a little bit about search. Now I don’t know how much experience each of you have with SharePoint 2013 but in particular when it comes to search the search results page now has this thing called a vertical. If you want to think of it this way, the vertical is just really a fancy upgrade to the old tab user interface that we used to have. But the idea here is that you can use these verticals these very easy ways of slicing and dicing the results at a very high level.
Now if you use the everything vertical which is the one that it defaults to we really have a good story there in that even though you may have a lot of video and non-video content that would come back on a search result the videos are going to stand out. The biggest reason they’re going to stand out is that each one of them is going to have a thumbnail associated with them. Even if I do nothing but just a straight search and I see my results I’m immediately going to be able to pick out the videos very easily.
However, it may be that there’s just a lot of content and maybe the first video didn’t even show up until the second page. Well there is also a video vertical that I can take advantage of, as the name implies this just filters my search results so that I’m only seeing videos. Again, I’m sure there’s some subtle differences that we could explore here between a vertical and a refiner. Metaphorically though I think about them as being very similar. It’s just a way for me to cut some of the clutter and see what I need to see.
Another thing that I think is pretty cool is that when you type in your search terms the search engine is actually analyzing your query and trying to deduce whether or not you’re looking for a video. And if it deduces that you are then it’ll actually add a block at the top of highlighted content that represents videos and you can drill into that further. I think that’s a pretty clever feature as well. Again, the thing I like about all three of these, I didn’t have to do anything. I just uploaded my video content and it got crawled and now these features are available to my users.
Then if you’ve worked it all with search and SharePoint 2013 you know it has this new capability where for a lot of different content sites on a search result you can hover over it and it will show you a little window that previews the content. Well the good news is you get the same thing here with videos. The hoover card includes an embedded video player so you could use that as a preview to see if it’s really what you’re looking for and then once you determine that it is you can click on the link, go to the actual video player page, see the video in full size and see any of the supporting assets that go with it.
Let’s go in and take a quick look at this. I’ve got a search center that’s configured here. I’m just going to go in and look for workflow. Pretty straight forward. Then again depending on how busy the cloud is this may come back in a half a second or it may come back in 15 seconds, but either way we’ll get some results back here and then we can analyze what we’ve seen.
As I scan down the page what I see here is that there are a couple of kinds of content that got served up to me that have thumbnails associated with them. Obviously PowerPoint here had a thumbnail associated with it and then down here is my video and you can see the various aspects of these as we float over them. That wasn’t the bad experience. I just typed in the word workflow and things started popping up to me pretty quickly.
However, it could be as I mentioned before that I’ve got so many items that match that I need to filter things a bit. I could certainly go over here and click on the videos vertical. You can see it defaulted to everything. If I switch to videos it’s pretty straightforward, it’s only going to show me video content at that point. Assuming that I have a reasonable number I can probably scroll through and find what it is that I’m looking for. Again, the search engine doesn’t always respond the quickest in the cloud but you get the idea. You get a feature block up here and then more down here.
Now one other thing that I think it’s cool here if I just go back to everything for a moment if I type in my query in such a way that it’s obvious that I’m looking for a video, in this case I actually used the word video, again the search engine is smart enough to say, “Oh, I bet you’re looking for a video, look at all of these that match.” There are a series of terms that will trigger that behavior. Then if I wanted to I could even drill down further into it using the show more and it would let me further explore that content.
I would argue that at least in terms of serving up video content in a useful way this is light years of what we had before. Now having said that you may or may not trust your customers or users to be able to go out and construct the right kind of query to find what they’re looking for. The last thing I’m going to talk about in our remaining few moments is just a little bit about how could we serve this content up to our users in a way that’s a little easier to consume.
The way that we’re going to do that is through the use of the content search web part. If you’re not familiar with this web part let me just give you a really simple way of thinking about it. What I’m going to do in effect is I’m going to go in and pre construct a query on behalf of my users that has all the rights settings and criteria. Then when it’s presented to the users they won’t even know it’s search, they’ll just know they went to a page and there were a couple of blocks of content there and they found the things they were looking for. I think that’s a pretty compelling story.
Another thing that’s nice about this is that we can embed this pretty much anywhere we want to do embed web parts. Then one final thought on this, I talked a moment ago about being able to embed a video and I’m going to show you how to do that in just a moment. The thing that to me is more compelling about the search web part as opposed to embedding is just the fact that if I embed the videos anytime I want to change what’s shown then I’ve got to go edit that page. But if I use properly configured content search web parts, they’re automatically going to update what they show overtime based on whatever’s happening with the actual data.
Now when you configure your content search web part you have several options including the content type, the content source, keywords, refiners, again basically all of the options that you have over on a search page is just that you’re preconfiguring it on behalf of your users. Really with some combination of embedded content and one or more of these content search web parts we could create a pretty basic but useful portal for highlighting videos and then from there it’s just a matter of using branding or some kind of decoration to give the site the look and feel that you want.
Let me go in now and just show this to you real quickly. I’m going to navigate back to my videos, and in this case I’m going to go and take the one that I originally uploaded. Then I’m going to copy its embed code. I’ll just click on the little embed button. Then from there it will give me a pop up with the embed code. Notice I have a lot of options down here. I can talk about where it starts, the size, whether it starts automatically, so even if you know nothing about crafting this correctly you just choose the options you want and copy the source and you’re good to go.
Now that I’ve got that I will browse back over to my site and I’m just going to into my site pages library and create a page that holds this content. I could just as easily put this on the home page. I just don’t want to decorate the home page at this point. I’ll just call this test video page. Obviously the name is somewhat inconsequential in this example Now I’ll go up and choose edit source and I’ll paste in the embed link that I got earlier. Then I save my changes and now when anyone browses to this page they’re going to see that video embedded. I could do whatever I wanted to as far as putting decorations around this information and so on, so embedding a video gets really, really easy.
Now let’s go one step further and let’s use our web part as a way of having a more dynamic presentation of that content. I create one more new page and I’ll call this one test video portal. I use the word portal just because this is going to be a little more dynamic in its presentation of data. Once I’m in the editor I’ll go and I’ll click on the insert tab and then I’ll choose web part. Then the web part I’m interested in in this case is in the content roll up category. It’s called content search. I’ll go ahead and select that one. Then I’ll choose add. Then obviously I need to go in and do a bit of configuration on this one. I’ll choose edit web part.
Then as I go into change these properties let me give you a quick aside. You remember earlier in the presentation I said there was a reason that I was using Chrome instead of Internet Explorer? This page is the reason. For whatever reason the version of Internet Explorer that I have when I go in and change these properties and click okay it takes about 15 seconds for the page to come back. It does work but it just goes into this, I don’t know, suspended state for a moment before it responds. That’s the only reason I’m using Chrome here.
What I want to do now is change the criteria for the videos that I’m going to show here. Let’s say for this example I want to show the latest videos. Well you can see here that there’s already a content source called recently changed items. That’s all good but the problem here if you look over to the side is that it’s showing some video content and some non-video content, and that’s not really what I want. I’ll go to the refiners tab and I’ll scroll down to content types and I’ll say, “You know what, video is the only thing I want to see.” I’ll go ahead and click add there, and you can see now that trimmed this down to two results.
Now one of the things to think about here on the basic tab it could be that you just want to show videos on the current site or it could be that you would want to show them from other places, with no restriction or just everything in the current site collection. I’m going to go ahead and choose that option and notice now between the content I uploaded today and the content that I was practicing with earlier in the week we now have eight results. That’s pretty cool. I’ll go ahead and click okay there.
Then I have some things to say about how this is going to get presented. What I’d like to do here is make this a slide show and then I’m going to use a large picture and then down under appearance I’m just going to put something like latest videos. Then once I’ve done all of that I’ll go ahead and click okay and then I’ll save the changes to my page. You can see now it’ll go into slide show mode here in just a moment, it’ll actually cycle through all of those videos and just highlight the ones that were created the latest.
Now it could very well be that in addition to this I might just want to provide more of a listing or a catalog of all of the videos so I’ll do that as the last part of my demonstration here. I’ll go back into edit mode one more time and I’ll come down below the web part that’s already there and I’ll add a second instance of that same content search web part. Then in this case I’ll go in and edit its properties, just as I did before, and I do want to change the query here. Now in this case I’m not worried about getting things that have recently changed. I’m worried about getting everything that’s related to videos. We’ll check this out. Out of the box there is actually a content source called local video results. Obviously that’s only going to give me videos.
Then once again I want to do that for the entire site collection. Because I’m using latest video results I don’t have to put a refiner on this because it’s only going to show me video results. I’ll click okay on that. Then in this example what I’m going to do is show them five at a time and I want to do a list with paging and then I’ll do picture on the left, three lines on the right, and then down here I’ll just say all videos. Then I’ll click okay. Then once those properties are applied I’ll save my changes to the page. You can see there are my videos. Then as I like I can page through them and see the additional videos. We did actually get lucky in this point. You can see that it’s already indexed, the one that I just uploaded a few moments ago.
I know I’m right up against it on time here. Let me just finish up by talking about what we didn’t do but we could easily do. If you’ve got a mechanism where you’re producing, uploading, and releasing videos you probably need some kind of approval mechanism. One way that we could do that is with a custom workflow. Some other things we could do if we’ve got users that are less sophisticated and interacting with SharePoint we could create an app where we basically pull the curtain over SharePoint and give a completely different user interface for presenting, manipulating, and uploading videos.
We didn’t do anything with branding here but the truth is if we took that page that I had a moment ago, put some nice branding on it, that will be a really nice outward facing video portal with very little effort. Then another way that we might approve and release content is with the use of the publishing infrastructure. In fact, if you’re willing to do a little googling or a little Bing searching Microsoft has actually created a white paper that gives a high level outline of how you could use what I’ve taught you today in concert with publishing to create an effective company Tube site where you have different videos based on different categories.
Then let’s recap what we covered real quickly. First off, in my opinion and I think the facts back me up, SharePoint is a legitimate repository for your video content. It’s not just a library with a bunch of files sitting in it. It is truly a way for you to present your videos in a way that they’re compelling to view and easy to find. The fact that we have support for HTML5 as our default setting, that just opens the world up. That’s something that’s only going to get better with time as more and more browsers come up to that specification. The fact that we have support for video rendition just says that we can support users that need to upgrade or downgrade their playback quality based on the environment that they’re in. Then being able to upload related content just gives us a nice repository not only for the video but all of the supporting files that might go with it.
That brings us to the end of our content for today. Again, I want to thank you so much for joining us. Just a reminder that if you think about coworkers or friends that might want to see this content, it’ll be up on our Vimeo site next week. I’ll hang around on the call for just a moment in case there are any questions, and if there are questions I’ll read those out loud. If you’ve had enough and you’re going to go do your daily commute or move on to the rest of your workday, once again on behalf of ThreeWill let me just thank you for attending. We’ll continue our webinar series in the coming months. I hope you’ll attend those as well. Have a good day and enjoy the rest of your evening.
For those of you that are going to stay on the line I’m going to work through the questions here and see if I can provide some answers. I did see one question in here that essentially said will you address local storage requirements. I’m not sure that I exactly know how to address that, other than just to say that as you saw in the video you’ve really got two choices, you can store the videos inside of SharePoint or you can store them outside of SharePoint and use a link. In either case really the question of storage and file size is just going to come down to how big are the videos and how many do I have and what resolution are they at. There are well known ways that you can assess that either through creating them on your own or using some documentation that go along with the standards of the different videos. That’s probably the first place for you to start on that.
The other thing that I will mention just as an aside there, if you’re a little more advanced in your usage of SharePoint when you do play back through the player that I demonstrated just a moment ago, how your blob cache is configured actually comes into play there. That’s not something that you would tweak in videos in Microsoft 365, but if you’re on premises and you’re looking to boost the performance of your video playback tweaking that blob cache would give you the ability to manipulate that.
A second one here. Could file properties be passed when importing a reference in content like name and title? I can only speculate what this question is about and let me speculate what I think it is, and that is we uploaded video and some things automatically got filled in. I guess the best way to answer that is that I believe that you could do that pretty easily but it’s going to involve some kind of code. What I would say is that you would write a SharePoint app, either a SharePoint hosted app or a provider hosted app that have the ability to acquire whatever properties you wanted to acquire and then to push those into the correct fields.
Part of the clarification there would just be if these are user supplied things we could do some basic validation to say, “I’m sorry, that’s a required field, you’ve got to put that in.” On the other hand, if it’s things that we might be pulling from a related database where we look up a file name and then find all of the characteristics that go with it, that would be a case where we would definitely have to inject an app that we had written to satisfy that need.
Then as a best practice what is the recommended max video size? Again, I totally have to refer you to Microsoft on that one. I think the two factors there are just number one are you on premises or in the cloud because there is a performance and a money aspect to both of those. But again, I can’t draw a line in the sand and say, “Well it’s always got to be this size or it can’t be any bigger than that size.” I think that is totally going to be driven by your environment. Then the second part of that question blob cache, I already addressed that one. It does use blog cache for the caching of the playback so that will definitely still come into play as well.
Thanks again to all of you for attending and thanks to those of you that asked questions. I hope I was able to address those in a meaningful way. I will always give you the fall back that if you didn’t get all of the details that you were looking for in the question and answer at the end I’m always happy to take your emails and dig a little deeper on those. I always have to add the disclaimer as well that somewhere between one and 50 email I’ll have to draw a line and say, “That’s the end of the free question and answer,” but in most cases if you’re looking for something I’m going to learn something by digging into it as well. So don’t be shy about forwarding those if you do have a question. Again, on behalf of ThreeWill thank you so much for joining us today and we hope to see you next time.