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If a picture is worth a thousand words, then surely a moving picture is worth a million words.

There are already several cases in which we are using videos to inform, to educate, and to advocate about the open Web (as well as Mozilla technologies like Firefox OS). However, each instance of this has to date been treated as a one-off, with videos placed on video hosting sites such as YouTube. We should have a standardized plan for managing these videos.

Note: As part of this project, we are evaluating the possibility of using Air Mozilla to host (and possibly even to produce) MDN's videos. This evaluation is being tracked in bug 1154699.

Videos on MDN may include things like:

  • Demonstrations of what the result of some code should look like (to be viewed by people whose browser doesn't yet support the feature, for example).
  • Tutorial videos demonstrating how to do specific tasks.
  • Longer lesson videos teaching coursework.
  • Demonstrations of how to use features such as the developer tools.
  • Promotional material for MDN events and activities.

It's worth noting that since we currently are not well optimized for hosting and presenting videos, we don't necessarily have examples of all of these in use at this time. The goal is to get there!

The lists below now have added sub-bullets with information received from the Air Mozilla team.

Must haves

These items are absolutely critical. Must-have items should be treated as the absolute minimum viable product; if any one of the items in this section is not in the finished product, the project is considered a failure.

  • Ability to host large pre-recorded videos in a performant way.
    • Already possible.
  • Ability to embed the videos in articles on the MDN wiki.
    • Already possible.
  • Broad support for a variety of devices and bandwidth levels.
    • Already possible.
  • Low cost to Mozilla financially.
    • Yes; especially when you measure as total cost of operation.
  • Ability to attach a detailed description text to each video.
    • Already available.
  • IRC backchannel link to #mdn.
    • Already possible; we can include an irc:// URL, Mibbit client, etc on each video page; it's very flexible.

Should haves

Features considered should haves are those which, while still as important functionally as those in the must have list, can be delayed slightly in order to achieve a minimum viable product on schedule, and/or have workarounds that enable the product to be used without them for a short time until the features can be built as a follow-up to the initial launch.

  • A permissions model that allows us to grant upload/approve/moderation privileges to non-staff users.
    • Already available. We can even use curated groups in to create hierarchies of groups of users.
  • Support for adding sub-titles for various locales as well as the original language of the video.
    • On the roadmap. Estimate 1 week of development time using Amara (Universal Subtitles). There's also a path to support for multiple soundtracks in different languages.
  • Ability to correlate videos with context; that is, if viewing the video off of MDN, there should be a way to provide at least one link back to the article that covers the topic at hand.
    • Yes! We can also link back to multiple articles, if it illustrates topics covered in multiple places.
  • Easy, convenient video uploading process.
    • Yes! Also, coming soon, support for creating screencast-style videos right in your browser.
  • Ability to load a new video with the play position set to a given offset into the video.
    • Not available but can be implemented in one day of development time.
  • Videos should show up on search engines.
    • Done already.
  • Statistics tracking including visit counts, play counts, follows/subscriptions, etc.
    • Already done.

Could haves

Those items on this list are less important than the features in the prior groups, but would be nice to have. These may include items that can add significant usability gains for marginal development cost.

  • Support for re-dubbing the vocals into alternate languages.
    • Not yet, but soon. MP4 file format allows multiple language tracks per video, but there's no support yet. It can be implemented if we need this.
  • An API for retrieving information about videos (title, available localizations, available sizes and bandwidth levels, duration, etc.).
    • Yes.
  • Ability to trigger an action when given points in the video are reached; for instance, it would be great to be able to show specific snippets of code (or a slide from a presentation) when the speaker reaches the corresponding part of their talk.
    • Possible, but not available yet. This is the Popcorn integration they've always wanted to build but never had a customer for.
  • A built-in suite of tools for editing videos, adding titles and images, and so forth.
    • Not yet, but high on the Air Mozilla team wish list.
  • Mozilla Popcorn integration (related to the previous point) would be cool.
    • See above.
  • Optional parameter in URL to set play position at load time.
    • Easily added.

Won't haves

These are items or capabilities that are outside the scope of this project, at least for the time being. They are in fact be functions we do wish to have, but they are the lowest-priority items, and should therefore be the first things to go if things have to be dropped in order to meet the project schedule. This list can also include genuinely low-priority or low-impact ideas.

  • API to allow script to change the current play position.
    • Related to above for setting play position at load time. Easily added but not yet present.
  • Commenting on videos.
    • Already available, including support for optional moderation.

Review and conclusion

This is a pretty good line-up of "Yes" answers, including even on our "won't have" items of things we want but are out-of-scope.

The next step is probably to see what the odds are of getting implementations done on the things they say they can finish quickly.