Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Calling it a day

This is the blog post I've been putting off and hoping I'd never write. It's also the post that most of you have been expecting and I doubt whether it will come as much of a surprise to long-time followers of the project.

Over the past few years I've been facing two major problems:

(1) I've struggled with the project itself. For mainly personal reasons I haven't been able to keep developing the player myself and unfortunately the several attempts I've made to bring in other people have been spectacular failures. Even worse, I made some bad mistakes when sharing the code which has resulted in a messy situation that has made it extremely difficult to get back on track. I won't bore you with details but it's all about code ownership and licensing.

(2) More importantly, the situation with Flash has become more and more bleak. Apple's refusal to allow Flash in its iOS was a severe blow, and yesterday's announcement that Adobe is abandoning efforts to bring Flash to mobile devices was the last straw. Frankly, Flash is looking like a very poor option for video delivery in the future.

It's my opinion that HTML5 is the video delivery mechanism of the future for the Internet. I know that many of you would prefer a dual approach that uses Flash where possible but falls back to HTML5 when necessary, but I see this as a temporary solution at best. I just don't think there's much merit in continuing to develop for a dying platform.

It breaks my heart to say it but MC Media Player is due for retirement. The website will continue to exist but I've updated it to make it clear that development has ceased. The free video hosting service will continue so there's no panic to move - it's my intention to keep it going for as long as people are using it. Obviously though, I recommend looking at other options for the long-term.

I would like to offer my sincere apologies for what has become of the player. I've made some bad decisions, I've put things off for too long and I've let down my supporters. All of this weighs heavily on my mind and it's one reason why I've been reluctant to make this call. However I feel that I need to put my cards on the table, admit honestly that things have turned irretrievably pear-shaped and let everyone know that maybe it's time to look elsewhere.

If you've been using the player and you're wondering where to go from here, my first answer is that you don't need to make any decision immediately. The player will still work just as it always has - there just won't be any new features. I recommend looking into HTML5 video and seeing if that works for you. I'm hoping to publish some HTML5 video tutorials which might help. In fact I am interested in developing some code samples and possibly even a player to replace our old one, only this time I'd make it open source right from the outset. If anyone's interested in helping to develop a good HTML5 video system, let me know in the comments.

Another option is of course to fall back on third-party solutions such as YouTube. That's what we've done at, and although the limitations and compromises are hard to swallow, there are many advantages.

Finally, I'd like to thank all the supporters out there. You've been wonderful and it's been a real thrill to see how the player has been used. The player has been a big part of my life and a source of great pride. Of all the projects I've been involved with, this will be the hardest to let go. I'm confident that's it's for the best but that doesn't make it any easier to say goodbye to you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

MC Altair v0.8

I've decided to release v0.8 with only one new feature: Better color control. You can now choose a default color scheme and/or colors for individual elements in the player. See the new variables and setup tool for details.

I wanted to get this version out because a few people have been asking for better colors. Now I'm planning to take a bit of time to consolidate and fix some outstanding bugs in the setup tool.

I've got a pretty clear idea of where to go from here, and I think we're on track for a v1.0 release this year. There are some exciting things going on behind the scenes and I'm looking forward to more development with MC Altair.

At the same time I'm obviously still thinking about MC Classic. I have previously indicated that I would get back to work on it later this year, and I haven't changed my mind, but at the same time there have been some developments that could impact this plan. I'll have more to say about MC Classic later.

In the meantime I'd appreciate any feedback from anyone who uses the new color features in MC Altair.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Setup Tool Upgrade

MC Altair v0.7 seems to be going fine. I've seen it on a few websites and it certainly looks a lot better at smaller sizes. I still need to work on how the player adapts to different sizes but at least there's no more distortion in the interface and it always looks tidy.

I've released a new version of the MC Altair setup tool. This doesn't affect the player itself and there are no new features as such, although I have also released a non-essential maintenance upgrade for MC Altair (v0.71).

- The setup tool now correctly shows default values for any player size. Edited values are shown in red.
- Many of the buttons have been moved to the new menu. Most importantly, the "Get Code" button can now be found in "Code > Export to Website".
- There is a new "Make Player" wizard that automatically imports a video file and creates a player with the correct dimensions (assuming the video file includes valid metadata - I don't yet have a workaround if it doesn't).
- I've added some more context-sensitive help.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

MC Altair 0.7 preview

Here's a sneek preview of MC Altair v0.7. I'll be making an official announcement very soon but I just wanted to give RSS subscribers a chance to have a look first. It doesn't have any significant new features but it is an important upgrade because it completely changes the way the player is resized. I decided that my previous approach, which I thought was devilishly cunning and original, was actually too counter-intuitive and problematic. I've returned to the traditional approach (used in MC Classic) which uses a consistent internal coordinate system with the top left corner as the (0,0) point.

Anyway, what this means is a much better, more robust way to resize the player. I'm particularly happy that fullscreen mode is now working properly again, and I'm looking forward to making that more configurable.

Because this version required a major re-write I expect a few bugs to fall out of it. If you don't like upgrading or helping out with bug reports, maybe you might like to wait until the next version. Still, it would be great to get some feedback on v0.7 as soon as possible before I make it the official release version.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

MC Altair upgrade, Red5 server

It's been a mad rush but I've managed to get MC Atair v0.6 released (see the announcement and technical details). It's just in time because I'm going to be tied up with family commitments this week, so I apologise if I'm slow responding to any questions about this release.

In a slight change of plan, I'm going to work on MC Altair 0.7 before getting back to MC Classic. Sorry, it had to be done but with any luck it won't actually take too long.

Good news: Brother Scratch has finished setting up Red5 on a brand new server. It sure looks like fun, I've checked out the simple live broadcast and chat applications that come with the server and there are sooo many possibilities. Too many ideas, too much technology, too little time in a day.

Anyway, let me know if you have anything to ask or say, either here or in the forum.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

MC Media Player Quick Update

Just a quick note about MC Altair.... I'm working on RMTP support and it's looking good so far. I've got RED5 working on my local network and MC Altair is streaming videos well (although there's still some work to do). Unfortunately our new web server won't be ready for a couple of weeks so it would be really helpful if anyone out there has a streaming server (Flash Media Server or RED5) that I could use for testing. All I need is the URL of a couple of video streams that I can play with the player (e.g. rmtp:// Otherwise I'll just have to wait until our new server is online before I can finalise the streaming code.

I've also added a variable for the buffer length which will please some of you.

I'm not yet sure when I'll release version 0.6. I'd prefer to wait until RMTP support is finished but it's possible the next release will just include a few small features and bug fixes, followed by another release with streaming support. In any case v0.6 shouldn't be more than a few weeks away at most.

After that it will be time to look at MC Classic.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

MC Media Player Status Report

Okay, I'm finally getting ready to have another go at the media players. I've got most of the next four weeks allocated to this project so hopefully we'll see some action. Now is the time to let me know of any issues or bugs that aren't already included in the project manager.

Here is the plan:
(1) My brother Richard (AKA Scratch) is investigating the RED5 Flash Server. We're hoping to set this up on a new server within the next few weeks. This will give us a decent platform upon which to develop the players' streaming and interactive capabilities.
(2) Fix the main outstanding bugs and issues with MC Altair.
(3) Tackle the outstanding issues in MC Classic.

The thing I most want to get done is prepare MC Altair for open source. I've been frustrated at not being able to do this yet but I am still motivated.