Dec 1 2010
Long ago I learned a secret to web building. And today is the day to impart this epiphany upon the masses. When building a website, look for third part tools to accomplish peripheral tasks so you can focus on the core product. It’s a simple concept but so often developers go about building tools themselves instead of looking for prebuilt solutions. On the list of tools you don’t need to build in house are comment boards, feedback utilities, forums, or software to manage your site blog. Resisting the temptation to build these can save you a lot of time and help bring your product to market quicker and more refined.
New to the list of tools you don’t need to build is an audio and video transcoder. Let’s say you run a site that lets users upload video or music files. Users will all upload different file formats. If you want your site viewable on hand held devices, phones, HD televisions then the file needs to be encoded to multiple, predetermined formats. Some devices and modern browsers accept Flash. Others need 3GP mobile, HD, Windows Media, and so on. Creating a tool to transcode these falls in the category of, “A fun little project” for hearty developers.
Giving hard core coders an excuse to resist the temptation to handle their encoding in house is EncoderCloud. They provide a set of scalable web services that can be utilized to encode almost any video or audio file type. It even comes with a WordPress plugin for the many bloggers and sites built with the WordPress framework.
EncoderCloud utilizes a managed cloud of Amazon EC2 and RackSpaceCloud servers. This allows them to process jobs in parallel so you can submit as many jobs as you like, concurrently. It comes with a well documented API which includes examples, and a special button that will award you an brand new iPod Nano. (Nano sold separately). The way it works is site owners can register for an account. Then they can create encoding profiles outlining the transcoding jobs they’d like processed. Here they can set options including output format, codec type, video size, aspect mode, bitrate, buffer size, frame rate, and a couple other choices. It can also cut thumbnails if you like. Audio has a similar set of options specific to sound files. When a website or desktop application makes a call to EncoderCloud’s API they will specify the profile they want the file processed with. One helpful feature is you can apply multiple profiles to the same file, thus converting the file into multiple formats with only having to transfer it once. Once encoded there are multiple options for transferring the files to external storage. They can be sent via FTP, to an HTTP server, Amazon S3, RackSpaceCloud Files, or CDN.
EncoderCloud has a simple pricing model. They charge by the file size during the transfer in and transfer out. Both transfers are $2/GB. Every account comes with a free GB file transfer credit so developers can integrate their system without running up a bill. There are no contracts or monthly fees. All accounts are pay as you go so site owners never end up spending more than they intend.
EncoderCloud set out to do one thing and do it well- encode audio and video files. The site is easy to understand and will fit into any project that needs to encode audio or video files. Delegating the task of encoding files to a third party is a great way to save development time. It also means you don’t have to be an encoding expert to allow users to upload video and music files on your site. After all, sometimes it’s best to leave the more complex projects to those that are dedicated to the task.