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MediaPlatform PrimeTime Review: A Sleek Enterprise YouTube

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Once you press Save, the upload starts. When complete, you’ll see a message asking if you want the system to automatically choose thumbnail images, or whether you’d like to manually choose. If you manually choose the thumbnail, you can choose from random images captured by the system, or specify a timecode within the file, a nice option. Or, you can let PrimeTime choose the thumbnail and change it later.

During my testing, I uploaded successfully from Mac and Windows computers; no surprise there. In mobile testing, I uploaded successfully from an iPhone 4S but not an iPad 1, and from an older Toshiba Thrive Android tablet still running Flash and a much newer Samsung Nexus 10 tablet without Flash installed.

On all platforms, your instance of MediaPlatform is locked until the upload completes; background uploading would have been nice. In addition, when uploading files manually, there is no batch function, though there is a non-GUI batch function you can use to upload large numbers of files during system installation or thereafter.

If you’ve created a moderation workflow, the assigned moderator will get an email notification of the uploaded video. As you can see in Figure 6, the moderator opens the Assets tab, sorts for videos awaiting approval, and double-clicks a video to open it in a viewing window. After watching, the moderator can approve or reject the video by clicking the appropriate thumbs-up or thumbs-down icon shown in the Figure.

Figure 6. Here’s the approval interface in the moderation workflow.

One rare and useful feature is lifecycle management, as shown in Figure 7. After you upload an asset and it’s in the Asset window, you click the pencil shown in Figure 6 to open the Edit Asset window. Click the Lifecycle tab and create events to activate, feature, unfeature, deactivate and delete the asset. This function is a great way to painlessly eliminate dated content from your library, though it should be available as part of the file upload process to eliminate the extra touch.

Figure 7. Controlling the lifecycle of this asset from activation to deletion.

Another feature accessed in the Assets tab that should have been available during upload relates to captions. After uploading the content, you can manually add caption files or use MediaPlatform’s automated system to generate captions, and have a human review and clean up the captions. But you can’t do it as part of the upload process, only from the Assets window.

The final content creation feature is a playlist, which lets you group multiple videos together for sequential viewing, like the first five orientation videos a new employee must watch (Figure 8). Creating the playlist is a bit disjointed; you have to run through multiple separate screens to create the playlist and then separately import it as an asset. In most other tools, you create playlists in the media library or the equivalent, usually via a simple drag and drop procedure.

Part of the PrimeTime workflow is necessary, since not all users have access to the asset library. On the other hand, a more elegant way to address this would have been two playlist creation workflows, one in the asset window for those with access, and the existing workflow for those who don’t.

Figure 8. PrimeTime’s playlist feature.

Designing the Portal

Once you upload content, it’s time to view it in the portal, which I found very modern and pleasing to the eye, though there are few easily configurable options. In fact, the only item you can configure via user controls is the logo on the upper left of the portal. However, as you can see on the right in Figure 9, you can modify a good number of configuration options via CSS, which is straightforward for most designers.

Figure 9. PrimeTime’s Portal Settings.

The portal itself is shown in Figure 1. The portal is built around a template, in my case the flow template. In that template, all featured videos cycle through a large frame on top, where a potential viewer can click to play them—it’s an elegant and modern function. Beneath that are the featured videos, followed by any scheduled live events, but only if you also own the WebCaster module. Beneath that are all the channels in the order presented in the Channels window shown in Figure 2, though placement is dynamic, so any channels without content, or channels the user doesn’t have access to, won’t appear. Just for the record, there are two other templates, carousel and focus, which you can use instead of the flow template during installation.

As mentioned, other enterprise YouTube products make their portals easier to configure with user controls, as opposed to CSS, and offer more configurable options. If you want to design your own look and feel, and choose your own configuration options, this may be a weakness. If you’d rather write a check and have it done for you, you may actually like the inability to tinker down the road. Again, a clear benefit from the lack of customizability is that the system is relatively free of control clutter, and has a very clean, unintimidating interface.

Getting back to our narrative, users can sort through their various channels, or search to find a particular video. When a user clicks a video, it opens in the player shown in Figure 10. The base player has all the basics; a Play/Pause toggle, progress bar, time display, volume bar and icon for fullscreen playback. If you click the Show Details button at the bottom of the player (which toggles into the Hide Details button shown in the Figure) you open all the tagging, sharing and playlist controls shown in the Figure.

Figure 10. The Flash-based player.

All computer-based playback uses the Flash Player and all mobile devices play in the browser with no app or download required. When setting up the system, you choose the technical schema for mobile delivery. Initially, I tried to deliver HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) to all mobile platforms, which worked great on my iPad 1 and 3 and iPhone 4S, but proved an epic fail on my two Android tablets, the aging Toshiba Thrive and newish Nexus 10, which both failed to play any video.

We then switched to a single MP4 file for Android, which worked perfectly on both tablets, though this isn’t a user-configurable option, it can only be accessed by MediaPlatform. The only anomaly was that PrimeTime does not recognize the Firefox browser on the Android system, so doesn’t send it files, though MediaPlatform promised to resolve this in the next few weeks.

Analytics

I found PrimeTime’s analytics function a key strength. As shown in Figure 11, the controls are very accessible and system presents the results very graphically, so you can instantly get a feel for the results. You can also drill down pretty deeply into the details; for example, you can see which video every user has watched and for how long. For further analysis, you can easily export most reports in CSV format.

Figure 11. I liked PrimeTime’s analytics capability.

So, that’s the review. To recap what I mentioned at the top, despite some usability grumbles, PrimeTime feels capable, stable and very well-thought out. If you’re currently using WebCaster and you’re looking to add enterprise YouTube functionality, PrimeTime is the obvious choice. If you’re starting with a clean slate, I would definitely include PrimeTime in the list of must consider candidates.

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