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Update: March 13, 2014 – Please note that this blog post references the archiving functionality in our OpenTok 1.0 platform. This feature is no longer being supported. Learn more about archiving using our OpenTok 2.0 platform.

A few weeks ago we were very excited to release our archiving feature to a wider audience. Now a video conversation is no longer a fleeting moment in time, but something that can be recorded and played back.

What we noticed however was that people wanted a bit more then just having the ability to record and play back archives. Our partners want to take ownership of the individual videos, to modify them, and to more easily share them with family, friends and their own end-users.

What to do?

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The good, the bad, and the…beautiful

It’s been an exciting few weeks for video quality. In the world of the wild, wild web (www), a stranger riding into town could be good, bad, or something else…

That’s what we thought here at TokBox when Adobe Flash Player 11 galloped into the land of OpenTok last week. From a distance, the stranger looked like a bandit, triggering an old hardware acquisition bug that threatened to break the OpenTok API. But we squashed that bug right quick. After the dust settled, we realized that Flash 11 was actually one of the good guys. There was a new sheriff in town—and Flash 11 was gonna use his H.264 revolver to bring justice and a new dawn for OpenTok video quality. Thanks to Flash 11, the OpenTok API now offers beautiful images that are clearer, crisper, and sharper than ever before.

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SF Startup Weekend EDU

Last weekend I and ~50 other developers, businesspeople and designers attended the SF Startup Weekend EDU hackathon at Grockit HQ, located right around the corner from TokBox here in SoMa. The event marked the first in a series of events in a new Startup Weekend track (EDU) focused on learning and education.

This was the second Startup Weekend I’ve attended since starting here as a Developer Evangelist, and it was noticeably different from the first one I attended which was Startup Weekend MEGA, at Microsoft HQ in Mountain View. Even though SW Mega is generally regarded as a sexier Startup Weekend event due to its visibility, prizes and the three startup tracks it features, this smaller event was more fun for me because it was more focused and seemed to be a more cohesive and intimate.

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Peer to Peer Video has arrived!

Here at TokBox we’re always trying to find ways to improve the quality of your video experience.  We’ve pushed out H.264 support with the new Flash Player 11 plugin. We’re learning how to pump more bits down the same bandwidth pipe to make sure your video is clear and crisp. And now, we are excited to enable Peer to Peer video for two party video chats.

What exactly is Peer to Peer (P2P)?

Traditional OpenTok sessions stream video via our servers. With P2P,  participants stream video directly to each other, resulting in better video quality!

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Video Hack Day SF

Last Saturday at TokBox HQ in San Francisco, 40 awesome and friendly hackers (and 1 mascot) came together to create 13 video apps built with a variety of video APIs. Six out of 13 projects incorporated OpenTok, including:

You Got Served: Two videos went head-to-head to compete for votes to see which one is the crowd pleaser.  One of the hackers presenting deftly showed off his dance skillz vs a football game; dance was the winner there.

8sec.tv: App that integrated OpenTok video archiving and RottenTomatoes to let users record video reviews.

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Quick Note Regarding Session ID Changes

A few weeks ago we sent out an email regarding changes to our session IDs (they are now longer, up to 255 characters).  If you are storing session IDs for re-use, make sure that your database field supports this (we recommend a length of 512 just to be safe).

Also, when you switch your app from staging to production, make sure to also modify the client JavaScript src URL and server-side API URL to point to production!  You’ll also want to make sure that you start using production and not staging session IDs.

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Good news & Bad News with Adobe Flash Player 11

Update #2: We have just pushed the fix for this issue. Please let us know in our forums if there are any problems with hardware acquisition for end users on Flash Player 11

Update #1: Google Chrome has updated their built-in version of Adobe Flash to Flash Player 11. We have not yet released our fix for this issue, but we are hard at work to make it happen.

Let’s play the good news/bad news game.

The good news is that Adobe’s Flash Player 11 brings with it a lot of new goodies including support for the H.264 video codec. More on how that will improve video quality in the OpenTok API in another blog post.

The bad news is there is a very old bug in Adobe’s hardware acquisition flow which Flash Player 11 has resurfaced.  Specifically, the release of the Flash Player 11 plugin has broken the work-around that we have had in place since the release of OpenTok.

What does that mean for you, the developer?

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Guest Post: Do-it-yourself Videos on Causes!

Update: March 13, 2014 – Please note that this blog post references the archiving functionality in our OpenTok 1.0 platform. This feature is no longer being supported. Learn more about archiving using our OpenTok 2.0 platform.

Guest Post written by Kristján Pétursson, Senior Engineer at Causes

While we were redesigning the Causes Wish last year, we very much wanted to let everyone personalize their wish with a video message. Imagine if instead of a big block of text to read, you could see your friend right there and they told you face-to-face why they care about the charity they’re supporting. If a mere picture is worth a thousand words, then 24 frames/second would surely melt the heart of even cynical Uncle Jake who never donates to anything. Sadly, no one offered a recording API that we could drop into a page. YouTube doesn’t expose it, Facebook rolled their own, and building one here would just be too much of a departure from our goals.

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Archiving & TokBooth are here!

Update: March 13, 2014 – Please note that this blog post references the archiving functionality in our OpenTok 1.0 platform. This feature is no longer being supported. Learn more about archiving using our OpenTok 2.0 platform.

It’s a big day here at TokBox.   We’re launching the public beta of two related products: archiving in the OpenTok API and the TokBooth plug-n-play app for recording video messages.  As product manager of the OpenTok platform, it’s a huge deal for me. I’m incredibly proud of our team for pulling it off.

Why? I know from personal experience that this has been the #1 most requested feature from our developers and end-users. When I started at TokBox as an engineer fresh out of school, lots of people were asking to record their video chats. When we repositioned the company around the OpenTok API, even more people started asking about archiving live video conversations. And now we’re making that possible.

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Simple OpenTok Publisher Widget

A few months ago I made an OpenTok JavaScript plug-in that created a simple widget that publishes and subscribes to. Essentially it creates a stripped down version of the basic html embed that allows you to customize things further however you’d like. You can try that widget live here.

This past week Pasha from PuppetSmith.com wanted to create a simple way for the admins on his site to publish a stream and have all non-admins as viewers. You could certainly build this functionality yourself with the full API, but it would be nice to have a quick solution for this common scenario.

As a result, I built in some features to the _OT.widget JavaScript plugin that will handle this scenario. Now, it will handle all publisher/subscriber logic depending on what token you pass it. You can also pass it the publishFull property that will show the publisher in full screen rather than in the corner of the window. With one publisher, this is what the widget looks like:

You can visit the GitHub repo for the plug-in here.

Here is a sample implementation in PHP that generates a token, passes it down to the widget, then initializes.

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