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A video is worth a million words

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Categories: New site features, Gamification

The PHPClasses site is launching a new feature that allows class authors to submit tutorial videos about their packages, in order to provide greater interest to the package users.

This post also explains how to use screencasting programs to produce and distribute videos that capture slide presentations and live demonstration of class packages or other software running in a desktop machine, without the need to use video cameras or expensive hardware.

It is also explained how to submit tutorial screencast videos to the PHPClasses site, and use video section links to provide good navigation to browse each section of a tutorial video.

Loaded Article

- Showing is better than just telling!
- Tutorial videos on the PHPClasses site
- Screencasting explained
- Submitting your tutorial videos
- Video section links
- Motivation for authors to submit their videos

- Showing is better than just telling!

Since the beginning, the PHPClasses site has been encouraging authors to provide packages of classes, that not only are useful, but are also usable.

Good documentation and examples are very important to make classes usable. Without examples or documentation, users feel lost and often give up on using the classes.

However, good examples and documentation often take a lot of time and effort from the authors to produce and make them available in an adequate manner.

This is why the package ratings take in consideration the examples and documentation that are provided. Packages that do not provide them loose the chance to earn extra rating points, and so, those packages may not get as visible as they could.

Examples and documentation are great ways to tell how to use a class. But better than telling, is showing how to use the classes.

Ideally, it would be great if each author could give talks about their classes, with live demonstrations and example code explanations.

Unfortunately, it is not financially viable to have authors travel around the world just to give talks to their package users.

On the other hand, nowadays, producing videos of talks and distributing them on the Internet has become viable, thanks mainly to YouTube and all the sites that adopted the idea of distributing user produced videos.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I suppose that a video should be worth a thousand pictures. So, a video must be worth a million words.

- Tutorial videos on the PHPClasses site

Starting today, class authors can submit tutorial videos about their classes to the PHPClasses site.

Here is the first video that I submitted to show as an example. It is a 4 hour long screencast about one of my classes. ...

The PHPClasses site does not distribute the videos directly. The videos appear embedded in the PHPClasses site pages associated to the respective packages.

Currently, the site only supports embedding videos submitted to the Google Video site. In the future, it will also embed videos from YouTube and other video sites that support embedding videos in the PHPClasses site.

- Screencasting explained

If you want to give a talk about something in your computer, you do not need a camera to record the talk on video.

You just need a screencasting recording program. Such program captures the screens of all the activity in your desktop and saves it in a suitable video format.

To learn all you need about screencasting, I recommend watching this talk by Alan Pope of the Hants Linux user group in the United Kingdom.

Although the talk is focused on Linux screencasting, it provides many useful tips that apply to screencasting on any platform. In the end you may find recommendations about screencasting programs for Windows and Mac OS X, besides those for Linux that are presented during the talk. ...

Nowadays, screencasting programs are quite affordable. If you are using Linux like I do, you may even find some free options. I tried practically all the programs demonstrated in the screencasting talk. Some of them did not work quite well.

I ended up using DemoRecorder. It is not free but it is quite affordable. Actually I was gladly surprised by the level of support provided by the author, Christian Linhart from Austria.

Christian has his own company on which he works developing the DemoRecorder program. Not only he responded very promptly to support requests, but he also provided a nice discount to buy the program.

Since I told him I wanted to post an article about screencasting, he provided a special discount code that every user reading this article can use to buy the program also with nice discount. Use this code until the end of February 2007 to have a 25% discount in any version.


Note that I do not gain anything from this recommendation. I am just passing the information.

Christian also told me that if you are a known Open Source project developer, you may get an additional discount. Just contact Christian for more details:

The version that I bought opens a window on which it is started a new instance of the current Linux desktop. Inside that window you can start any programs and record all the demonstrations that you want to show.

I used OpenOffice 2.1 Impress program to present the slides of my presentation. Then I recorded other presentation takes separately to demonstrate Web scripts using Firefox 2. The code explanations were presented with the Kate editor that comes with KDE distribution.

The DemoRecorder program captures the desktop video at the same time it captures the audio from a microphone. Some people recommend recording the audio separately to avoid hu-hums and background noises. I recorded the audio while I was demonstrating because it would be simpler to cut and edit later.

Currently, DemoRecorder does not provide cut and editing features. If you have recorded your video in separate takes, you need to use a separate tool to cut, edit and assemble your final video version, like avidemux or others.

You need to export your videos to a format of your preference with separate programs that come with DemoRecorder. It is recommended that you export in AVI MPEG 4 format, as it results in smaller videos that are accepted by most video distribution sites.

If you want to provide the video in your site, the Web edition of the DemoRecorder can export the video in Flash format. It generates all the HTML code and Flash applet to let you distribute your videos directly from your site, thus without relying on a video distribution site like YouTube or similar.

- Submitting your tutorial videos

Authors willing to submit video tutorials about their packages first need to go to Google Video site and upload the videos there. You need to create an account before you can upload your videos.

There are some video format recommendations that are important to follow, so your videos can be processed without problems: ...

I recorded the presentation videos the size 720x480 which is the final video size that I wanted to use. Keep in mind that Google video reduces the size to half of the width and the height.

Make sure you use larger letters when you record, so your presentation can still be readable. Unfortunately, I forgot that detail when I recorded the code explanation parts, so the code is not readable in my presentation video.

Video files with more than 100MB of size need to be uploaded with a separate tool. Actually, I recommend to always use the GoogleVideoUploader tool. This tool not only shows the upload progress and give remaining time estimates, but also allows suspending and resuming long video uploads.

There are versions of this tool for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. I was told that some Windows versions had problems. If you use a version that exhibits any problems, the recommendation is to use the Linux version. That version is actually a Java package, so it works in all platforms with the Java Runtime Environment installed, including other platforms besides Windows and Mac OS X.

Here you may find more details about the Google Video Uploader: ...

Once you submit your videos, you need to login in your Google Video account page and submit several the video description and other details.

Make sure the advanced option for embedding video is set to "Allow users to place this video on their own web sites". Otherwise, the video will not show in the PHPClasses site.

The video will not become immediately available after upload. Google will process the video for a while to adjust its format to their standards.

Short videos take less time to be processed. Long videos may take days. I uploaded an 1GB long AVI MPEG 4 video and it took 5 days to finish processing. If you are in a rush, you may want to split the video in multiple parts. Usually it takes much less time because the video parts are processed in parallel.

Once the processing is finished, the video will become public. To submit a video to the PHPClasses site, go to your package page, click on the "Manage Videos" link that appears in the tutorial videos section. Then click on the "Add Video" link.

You need to paste in the video form the URL of the page where your video appears in Google Video site. The site retrieves and parses that page to extract the video title, description, duration, etc.. That information is displayed in the submission form, so you can confirm it is correct before the video is added.

- Video section links

The PHPClasses site does more than just embedding videos served by other sites.

Tutorial videos tend to be long and cover several aspects. For instance, a slide presentation covers different aspects in each slide.

One thing that I missed in most video distribution sites is the ability to jump to specific sections of a slide based presentation.

The PHPClasses site provides means to let authors define several video sections. Each section starts in a given time position. An author can add as many sections as necessary, associating a title label, a mark name and the time position of each section.

These section details are used to present a list of video section links that appears on the right side of the page where the video is exhibited. When the user clicks on a section link, the video playback jumps to the associated time position. Very useful!

Google provides means to jump to a given video time position in their site. However, there is not yet a way to associate time sorted labels to video sections.

I submitted a feature request for this to Google Video. Maybe it will become available in the future. For now, you can benefit from this feature already for videos exhibited in the PHPClasses site.

- Motivation for authors to submit their videos

Providing video tutorials is great, but it also takes some time and effort to produce a good tutorial video.

The PHPClasses site is introducing and new rating parameter to each class to encourage authors to invest on tutorial video production .

That parameter will appear in the rating page for packages that provide tutorial videos. Only such packages can be rated for their tutorial videos. So they can earn extra rating points that may provide them additional visibility in the top rated charts.

I also plan to have a page and and RSS feed for the latest tutorial videos. There, each new video and the respective package gain additional exposure.

I hope these features will encourage many authors to produce and submit their tutorial videos. If you have more ideas I am more than willing to hear about them.

Other than that, some details of this video tutorial distribution feature are not yet completely finished. So it is possible that you may find things that look incomplete or incorrect.

In any case I would like to encourage you to post a comment to this article in the forum to submit any bug reports, improvement suggestions, or any other comments that you may want to make.

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1. Great features but design - Piotrek Rybaltowski (2007-02-10 11:19)
What about new design?... - 3 replies
Read the whole comment and replies


1. A video is worth a million words (2007-02-01 11:46)
The PHPClasses site is launching a new feature that allows class authors to submit tutorial videos about their packages, in order to provide greater interest to the package users...

  Blog PHP Classes blog   RSS 1.0 feed RSS 2.0 feed   Blog A video is worth a mi...   Post a comment Post a comment   See comments See comments (4)   Trackbacks (1)  
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