A Consuming Experience

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Blogger in Draft: video uploading - screenshots, issues, bugs

Monday, June 18, 2007
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As you may know, not long after finalising the now feature complete fancy New Blogger, formerly known as Blogger Beta, Blogger introduced a way to enable users to access experimental features via the new Blogger in Draft (effectively a playground for users to try out and comment on planned new features which aren't quite ready for prime time yet - more on Blogger in Draft, and its video uploading).

Users of Blogger in Draft can upload videos, and the video files are hosted for free on Google Video. Video uploading is the first test feature to be available via Blogger in Draft.

I summarised some initial points and included some screenshots in my previous post.

I've been experimenting with video uploading, and here are some more issues and possibly bugs I've noticed.

The Blogger in Draft video uploading process, with screenshots

After you login to Blogger in Draft, create a new post and click the new video upload icon in the toolbar of the post editor:

you'll get the video upload popup:

It's mostly self-explanatory. I haven't figured out what the "Video Title" box does yet as I can't see a title associated with the uploaded video in a published post, for instance.

Then an Uploading video.. placeholder image appears in your post. If you have text or images there already it goes after them, i.e. it's placed at the end of your post (whereas uploaded images appear at the start):

You'll see the video isn't centered in the middle of the post (I think it should be, by default).

If you go to the Edit HTML view you can see the code for the placeholder, which looks like this:
<object id="BLOG_video-UPLOADING" class="BLOG_video_class" contentid="UPLOADING" height="280" width="320"></object>
And at the bottom of the Create Post page, you can see a status message showing that it's Uploading Video...:

It's good to know that we can keep editing the post while the video file uploads, and even save edits.

Now if you keep an eye on the browser status bar, you'll see a succession of messages, while Firefox (if you use Firefox) has its "Loading" message and icon whirling away:
Sending request to draft.blogger.com
Waiting for data from draft.blogger.com
Transferring data from draft.blogger.com
(and it all repeats again)

When it's finished, there seems to be a long wait on "Transferring data from draft.blogger.com", then the placeholder pic momentarily changes to this:

And then the pic changes to the opening shot of the video. The code also changes - "UPLOADING" becomes a unique number, in both places where it occurs. Unique to that uploaded video, of course.

You can see a test example here (that's an WMV file which isn't a "real" video with moving pictures, as such).

What are the bugs and issues?

Several points I've noticed so far.

Uploading doesn't work - file size limit?

As mentioned in my previous post, and as you can see from the screenshot above, you can upload videos in the standard file formats of AVI, MPEG, QuickTime (.mov), Real (.rv) or Windows Media (.wmv I imagine), with a maximum file size of 100 MB.

I've not tried uploading in anything other than WMV format, so far. (Did try WMA just to see, well it's Windows Media innit even if it's not video, but not surprisingly I just got an error message.)

The first issue is that uploading videos takes too long, and sometimes doesn't happen at all - probably the filesize? It's supposed to be 100 MB max, but from my tests, I have only been able to upload files of up to about 5MB. A 5MB file took about 15-20 mins to upload on my broadband connection, so it's still a bit slow. Bigger files of I'd say around 20MB wouldn't upload, period (I've not tried 10 MB.)

When I tried to upload a WMV file of some 25 MB, which is well under the supposed 100MB limit, it just wouldn't do it. If 5MB takes about 20 mins then 25 MB shouldn't take more than a couple of hours. But I left it overnight, it didn't work. I cancelled and tried again, left it for 5 or 6 hours, no go. Finally tried one more time in a new post, gave up after leaving it for a few hours. Also tried it in Internet Explorer instead of my usual browser Firefox, same thing. Just had it stuck on the Uploading messages. Sometimes the "Loading" message or hourglass on my browser disappeared but the video wasn't shown, other times it just stayed whirling away forever. The progress bar showed solid almost all the way to the end, but just stayed there without quite getting to the end.

So that's one major bug they need to fix - and it has to be a bug, if it's supposed to handle 100MB. I've tried it with different WMV files, same thing.

Occasionally even with smaller files there are problems, e.g. an error message with a 2 MB file:

Though when I tried again, it did finally upload OK.

Maybe Blogger could also introduce a clearer more accurate progress bar showing how far through the uploading is?

Editing draft posts - problem, and solution

Now if you successfully upload a video but don't publish it immediately, it doesn't behave when you later go back to the draft post via Edit Posts, at least in Firefox.

At the bottom of the draft post it says "Processing", then it errors and the code for the video vanishes from the post! If you try to go back to Edit Posts it claims there are unsaved changes.

The workaround, I found, is to go quickly back to Edit Posts if that happens (it has with every draft post so far which has uploaded video code in it). Then click to Edit the same post again and, quick as a flash before the code disappears, go to Edit HTML view and copy the code for the video (with its unique ID). If you then paste that code back into the post, in either Edit HTML or Compose view, and then publish, it works.

The gotcha is to make sure you've copied the code before it autosaves the post without the code, as the code gets wiped out within seconds of your trying to edit the post. Good exercise for the fingers!

This has to be a bug. I've not tried to see if it's the same in Internet Explorer.

Managing uploaded videos

Pictures and photographs uploaded to Blogger can be managed via Picasa Web. But what about uploaded videos? I did try logging in to Google Video using my Google Account (which we now have to use to sign in to Blogger), but on my Uploaded Videos page nothing could be seen.

Presumably this feature is on its way, but it's imperative for users that we should be able to manage our uploaded videos. For example witness the many failed uploads I've tried - if they've uploaded but just didn't appear in my post, I don't want them taking up space on "my" video account unnecessarily so I'd want to be able to delete them. In fact it would be nice if I could just check whether they did upload to Google Video but just weren't displaying in the post.

Also it would be good to know what if anything is the total maximum limit on uploaded videos which each Blogger member can use up. Again, so we can manage our account storage sensibly.

Published posts with videos

Two immediate points here. On Internet Explorer 7 at least, when you visit a post or home page with an uploaded video, the video starts playing immediately, automatically. That's as annoying as an audio file autoplaying when you go to a webpage. It doesn't do that in Firefox or Opera. Team Blogger, please make it stooooooop!

Second point - on sharability, which seems particularly apt given Jyri Engeström's 5 principles for Web 2.0 success - where is the button on the displayed video that enables viewers to share the video, embed it in their own blogs, etc? I think there should be one.

Known issues blog?

As with Blogger in Beta, I wonder if Blogger might start listing known issues for Blogger in Draft, e.g. on the Known Issues blog maybe tagged Draft and Video? It would be helpful for users to search through.

All in all though, it's very positive that we can now upload videos to Blogger. I do hope the uploading issue with bigger files is fixed, soon, most of all.

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2 Comment(s):

I've had a serious problem that Blogger has not fixed yet. I attempted to load a 10mb video and it did not take. Smaller videos worked fine. But for this particular video it never finished loading. The next day i went back and found the attempted video load was listed among my other posts as a "draft". So just to see what would happen, I hit the "publish" button, again for that post. I got an error message. And soon after, I discovered that whenever I key in the main url to my blog thehomelessguy.blogspot.com - there is an error with that too. And when I try to delete the failed video load, I get yet another error message. I'm used to getting 300 visits a day to the blog, now I get about 40. That's because the individual posts can be found - you just can't get to the blog through the main url. The folks at the Google discussion group have been no help, and neither has anyone employeed by Google. And I have tried contacted everyone I could.

(By Kevin Barbieux, at Monday, June 18, 2007 6:49:00 PM)  Edit Comment

Kevin, that's odd. I've had larger than 5MB videos not take, but still been able to get in to my blog. Maybe the error is not connected?

But if it is, I've certainly had issues with trying to delete failed uploads too, though it didn't affect my blog generally (I hope!). The answer that worked for me is this: login via draft.blogger.com. Go to edit the post with the failed video. Manually delete the code or placeholder for the failed video, and then save or publish. Then you should be able to delete the post with the failed video.

I assume you've tried Blogger support at the direct contact link? (only works if you're logged in).

Let me know if it works. Good luck!

(By Improbulus, at Monday, June 25, 2007 8:40:00 AM)  Edit Comment

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