Median 5, Delivered

Median 5 is up and running! It’s magic. The reactions have been pretty positive so far. I wanted to take some time and highlight some new features that I mentioned before, but now you can actually use them! I don’t even know how it got done. Actually, I do. Check out the line count stats:

Ugh. So many lines of code written. The first few months were me designing it, and then the spike is when I realized that WINTER IS COMING.

Median 5 is the first version to be developed using git version control, which is pretty cool, and can let me show you graphs like that. Anyway, I’ll get back to the nerdy stuff later. Let’s talk about some new stuff!

The New Design

Probably my favorite part is the new design. It’s simple, it’s clean, it’s fresh. So fresh. Even cooler, it’s responsive, which means it scales up and down based on how you view it. You can see it in action simply by resizing your browser window! Try it! I’m still working to perfect it in small ways, but the functionality is super useful. Median is using the Foundation framework to make this work, but the design elements came from previous Median designs as well as some conceptual help from ITG.

One Wizard to Rule Them All

The new Uploader isn’t even called a “wizard” anymore, it’s gotten too cool for that title. Gone are the days of multiple upload paths: no more link, batch, request, whatever wizards. Just one uploader for all content. What’s even better is that you only need to do the first step and then you’re done! This has been a feature request for a long time, to bring Median up to speed with sites like Vimeo, which have safe defaults and only require you to upload content. Median is now much the same.

Also, along with the better uploader, you can now swap out files the same way you can on Vimeo. Say you upload a rough cut version of your film project and want to keep the same URL for it but replace the video with the final cut. Now you can! Just click “Swap File” under the video, and upload the new version. To make things even cooler, you can now also upload a custom thumbnail for any entry. This option is under the “Tools” section on the player page for your media.

Playlists/Folders/Channels Galore

Another much-requested feature has been the idea of playlists or folders or channels on Median. Functionally, they are all the same thing: a list of media entries curated by a user, group, or class. So that’s now in Median as well. If you want to make your own playlist, go to Manage, and then click Playlists. You can move any of your entries into playlists. The same can be done inside Classes and Groups! (The “class assignments” feature of Median 4 has been replaced by playlists.)

The Nerdy Tech Side

For those interested in the nitty gritty tech details, Median 5 features a lot of the cutting-edge innovation that Emerson likes to pride itself in. Median is now powered 100% by a MongoDB database backend, leaving behind the traditional SQL days for the shiny new hotness of document-driven storage. The Median API has been using MongoDB for over a year, and the speed of it really impressed me. The Median site itself is also very heavily coded with HTML5 standards and jQuery, which has always worked well across browsers.

The architecture of Median itself has improved over the last six months as well. Median runs on three servers: two application servers running lighttpd + PHP and a server storing all media content while running Flash Media Server. All are running the latest Ubuntu 12.04. The file uploading process itself is a very neat node.js script, which can handle files of any size. Furthermore, the production code changes to Median are now deployed using git instead of via FTP, making feature changes and bugfixes faster to debug and roll out (and potentially roll back).

There are a ton more small features here and there that people will enjoy, and I am continuing to develop small things here and there. Median is constantly evolving thanks to the input of students, faculty, and staff. Keep sending in feedback! I typically answer pretty quickly: median@emerson.edu

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