One of the areas I’ve been focusing my efforts has been that of supported media formats. Basically, iPresent Producer will support the following output formats:
Windows Media, QuickTime (MOV), and Flash (SWF)
Windows Media and QuickTime
Additionally, Producer will support 2 output modes: ‘embedded’ or ‘stand-alone’. Embedded will create a standard webcast presentation – (ie. talking head, slide area, and other content areas using synchronization and an embedded media player). Stand-alone will create a single media file that is played back in the user’s media player of choice. For an audio presentation, the media player will display a large slide synched with the presenter’s narration. For video, the slide area will also include a picture-in-picture video of the presenter.
I’ve spent a considerable amount of time working to get this all included within the first release. Having quite a bit of experience building these sorts of applications in the past, and dealing with media format incompatibilities and the nuances of operating systems, and PC configurations – I really wanted to nail accessibility. Accessibility, in the sense that viewing streaming media should be easy for the end viewer. If the user has a Mac, they should be able to view a QuickTime video. They shouldn’t have to download and install Windows Media Player or get the latest Flash player. If the user prefers watching videos using the QuickTime player itself (as opposed from within a web page) then so be it.
Initially, I was planning to only support Windows Media for my v1 release, but the prevalence of Flash audio/video and the resurgence of QuickTime’s MOV format; I felt I needed to get this in. This is also a key differentiator amongst other e-learning/online presentation tools. Many vendors focus on a one particular output format, but I just don’t see that as a viable option. A user can arguably get any of the leading media formats to playback on their particular operating system of choice (except Windows Media on Linux), but they will most likely have to jump through hoops to do so. By offering several output options, content producers can pick a format that meets the majority of their user’s needs. But, they have the flexibility to create certain content/presentations in other formats, as the situation arises.
I thought I knew a fair amount about embedded media players, script commands, markers, the DOM, FSCommand and scripting control – but I’ve learned quite a bit more. Anyhow, I hope to begin writing some tutorials on how to include rich media within a website. Of course I’ll be using iPresent Producer to create the tutorials, so stay tuned.