Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Video captioning made easy with the YouTube JavaScript API

One thing that has been annoying me for ages is that no video player on the web allows you to write comments for a specific time in the video that get displayed as plain text. Viddler allows you to comment at a certain time and it appears in the video, but the benefits of time based captioning both in terms of accessibility and SEO didn’t quite transpire to any video site maintainers yet. Edit: Darn, I hadn’t looked at Viddler for a long time, it actually does this now, well done!

Google just released a JavaScript API for YouTube which makes it dead easy to control a video with JavaScript. You can start, stop and jump to a certain time of the video but more importantly – you have events firing when something happens to the player. This made it easy for me to whip up a proof of concept how time-based captioning might work as an interface. Click the screenshot to see it in action.

Screenshot of video with timed captions created with a small JavaScript

Start the video and hit the pause button to add a new caption. You can delete captions by hitting the x links and you can jump back to the section of the video by clicking the time stamp.

Check the source for how it is done. In order to make this a service, all you need to do is have a backend script that gets all the form fields and store it in a DB.

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