Friday, August 19, 2011

Designing a video Streaming Portal - Part 1

The core idea is to build a video streaming portal which leverages SharePoint assets and also ensure that the solution is not burning our pockets. This solution will be totally based  on Free software or the software which the cost was already included with operating system license and with bare minimal code.

Software involved:


Windows Media Streaming Services
          Deploy and enable Windows Media Streaming services in a Windows Server 2008. This service is capable of streaming video files in MMS or HTTP protocol, depends upon the client which is requesting. If the request is raised from Windows Media player then the server switches to MMS protocol, for any other clients it'll be HTTP protocol. This is called as Protocol roll-over.
          Windows Media Streaming services support WMV,WMA,asx and wsx file formats.Among this asx and wsx are play list format. So convert your videos to WMV videos.If your video library is full of FLV and flash files then its worth taking a look IIS Media Services.
            Map the video folder to appropriate publishing points, this will give you a unique end point to each and every media file. If you've enabled HTTP protocol then this will create a web application in IIS default port 80. It is recommended to expose HTTP protocol along with MMS protocol because MMS is compatible only with Media player client.If you are planning to build your own streaming client then your ideal end point would be HTTP.

SharePoint Foundation 2010
           Create a custom list and add columns Title, description, endpoint and comments. If you want to capture more metadata about the media asset, pile up here. Populate the list with the list of publishing points which are exposed by Windows media streaming services. It gives a chance of automation but for the sake of simplicity we are populating it manually.
           Develop a web part which lists all entries in this list on a left pane and Windows Media player ActiveX control on right pane. Whenever the user selects a video on left pane, modify the url property of ActiveX control and start playing. Let the ActiveX control do all heavy lifting for us.

SharePoint Search Server Express 2010
             SharePoint Search server express is good enough for small organization to start with and to get a flavor of Enterprise Search experience without any additional cost. Although it comes with the limitation on items which gets crawled it is a best fit for this solution.
              Deploy SSX2010 and configure the search and managed meta data(if required).Initiate an crawl on the content and get it indexed. Create a search center and test the search results. Now edit the search results web part to include "endpoint" managed meta data in query columns list. Modify the search results XSLT to render a small thumbnail of Media player plug-in which allows the user to play the videos right there in the search results
 Configuration , setting up the servers, pros and cons will be part of next post...

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