Foliovision Making the web work for you 2017-01-20T23:08:20Z https://foliovision.com/feed/atom WordPress Eduard <![CDATA[Stealing videos: can publishers stop video download theft? Honestly no. But neither can Netflix nor Google.]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=50645 2017-01-20T15:14:43Z 2017-01-19T21:43:35Z Many of our clients ask us: "How can I protect my videos from people downloading or stealing them?" The answer is unfortunately very short: you can't. No matter how strong of an encryption you use for streaming, or how many other layers of protection you use, if anyone can play your videos, your videos can be stolen. In most cases, users can just download them. Google's Widevine DRM was a breakthrough in this area and is widely used, most famously by Netflix. Widevine works in recent Chrome, Opera and Firefox.

But just stopping people from downloading your videos isn't enough. A user can just record and recompress your vide, a.k.a. screen capture or screen recording.. It's a bit more work, but modern tools and powerful computers make video encoding and re-encoding easier. The free ffmpeg libraries are available to all open source projects. Or, you can just use a screen capturing software. 

But there are ways to protect my videos from screen capturing, aren't they?

Yes, Google's Widevine makes it more difficult to screen capture full screen video with certain graphics cards. Does this mean you can't screen capture Netflix? No. Here's an example.

[This post contains video, click to play]

In the short clip you can see, that I was able to record the playback of Narcos in windowed mode and also switched to fullscreen. Is the recording lacking quality both in sound and visuals? Sure it does. But I recorded it by grabbing first tool I found in the search results (TinyTake) and the whole capturing process including registration took about 10 minutes. I didn't spend any time or effort on making sure I had the best stream or the best software. Someone who is determined to create a decent-quality rip would have no problem to do so. The show was played and grabbed on Windows/Chrome.

My colleague has shown that Mac OS X is equally susceptible to screen capture

Netflix uses the EME (Encrypted Media Extensions) to protect content from being downloaded. That's a W3C specification based on Media Source Extensions (MSE) that allows usage of DRM software in HTML5 video. It basically allows the video to be loaded in your browser via a Javascript API and decrypt it with a CDM (Content Decryption Module). There are several modules for different devices. Chrome uses the Widevine module, which also should provide protection from screen capturing. As you can see from above, it doesn't.

Are there any other ways to stop those annoying screen capturers?

No. Widevine does discourage them and slow pirates down a bit. Simple downloading won't be possible. Sometimes some people won't be able to screen capture. Here's a list of Widevine-like DRM systems for the main desktop browsers and mobile platforms.

Platform CDM provider
Chrome 37+ Google Widevine
Internet Explorer 11+ (Windows 8.1+ only) Microsoft Playready
Microsoft Edge (Windows 10) Microsoft Playready
Safari 8+ Apple Fairplay
Firefox 47+ Google Widevine
Opera 33+ Apple Fairplay, Google Widevine
Android 4.3+ Google Widevine
iOS 6+ Apple Fairplay
Windows Phone 8.1+ Microsoft Playready

BTW, this list is not as imposing as it looks at first glance. Widevine supports both iOS and Android and all desktop platforms (Apple OS X, Linux and Windows) so for the small or medium-sized publisher you only need to cover a single DRM system (unlike Netflix which must stream via all DRM systems).

Widevine Alternatives

One of our clients approached us recently with another idea to discourage piracy and it's a good one: watermarks. These can be added either during the video encoding, or during the playback via video player. If you add them during the encoding process, you have to choose between creating a really subtle mark, usually in one of the corners of the video, or larger imprint. Subtle one might be just cropped out and a large one will probably ruin the viewing experience. Adding the mark in encoding also means that while the content is clearly marked, it's not very clear who the pirate is. Publicly shaming a pirate is the best way to stop him or her from sharing the content.

Sample of IP based DRM via watermarking
Sample of IP based DRM via watermarking

Implementing a watermark during the video playback as an CSS overlay is not hard to overcome, but we are currently working on a solution suggested by one of our users, that will dynamically track the viewers IP and other information based on his membership profile (if he's signed in). That doesn't create an impenetrable shield, but most visitors might think twice about stealing, when they see their name on the video.

If you've been wanting to add additional anti-piracy measures, we expect to release IP watermarking within ten days. Widevine support is coming as well.

Don't forget:

Stealing videos: can publishers stop video download theft? Honestly no. But neither can Netflix nor Google.

Post from: Foliovision

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Mario Lapos <![CDATA[Milanote: Alternative to Evernote]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=50575 2017-01-20T13:13:32Z 2017-01-18T20:31:52Z Evernote caused an earthquake last year with changes to their beloved freemium model. Many users were forced to pay if they wanted to keep using the app on more than two devices and enjoy storage space larger than 60MB/per month. I was one of those who accepted the changes (with a bitter face), but not long after the company raised the pricing again. By then, Microsoft OneNote was promoting its free product and Evernote migration tool. I was convinced, but never very happy about the OneNote's organization, and UI/UX. 

I stumbled upon Milanote earlier today. It is not officially released yet, but after signing up for e-mail notification once it is out I was given the option to get on beta testing. All I had to do was tell them how I plan to use the app, and what similar app I can think of in a Typeform. Done and I was in (love).

User Interface / User Experience

If you read my comparison of Hootsuite and Buffer you know I am a huge fan of minimalistic and flat design. And it's pretty popular and trendy. 

Milanote's "homepage" is an empty (at the beginning) canvas called Workspace where you drag and drop stuff. It is bordered by two bars - top and side.

Top bar is divided into two parts:

  • The upper part indicates what you're working on, who is active in your Boards (sharing and collaboration is big in Milanote, keep on reading!), changes made, and drop-down settings menu
  • The lower part stores name of the board/workspace currently open, drop-down sharing menu, and Export option (keep on reading!)

Sidebar is the creative bar. Here you cab find your content options - Cards.

Cards work on drag and drop basis:

  • Note - drag and drop on to canvas, or double click on canvas, and jot down your thoughts
  • Image - either drag and drop a file from your computer, or upload right away from the interface
  • Link - store URLs, description is customizable. Dropbox and Google Drive links work well!
  • Column - serves as a grouping of cards within a Board
  • Board - create new Workspace
  • Line - connect Cards and Boards, create basic mind-maps
  • Trash - you guessed it, drag and drop redundant Cards and Boards

Navigation is easy and intuitive. Although in Beta version, I haven't experienced any major issues with content creation and editing.  

Workspace

Workspace and Boards

Every piece of content users produce is accessible from Workspace - the "homepage" Canvas. If you want to work on projects, or categorize your content and thoughts, you have two options:

  1. Create a Board. This is a folder with entirely new Canvas. For example, I created a board called 'Milanote review' for notes, links, pictures and gifs I would need for this blog post (Board's icon is decided upon naming of the board, pretty sleek!) 
  2. Combine anything into Columns. Unlike boards, columns don't have their own canvas - they show on canvas. For example, hold CMD/CTRL while dragging a card to combine it with another card and you have a Column, or create it from the sidebar.

[This post contains video, click to play]

 

The best thing about Milanote's organization and interface is that everything is always in sight, visible and movable. Everything stays where you place it. Moreover, you can lock stuff (cards and boards) in their places.

There's no need to switch between notes in Milanote. They are just there. Simple as that.

I remember complaining about Evernote's text editing features - they didn't work very well. With OneNote, the text editing is great, but I don't like the way the notes are organized. What about Milanote?

If Evernote and Google Keep had a child it would be Milanote.

Seriously, it's the best of both worlds. Take note taking from the former app, interface from the latter, improve both of them, and this is what you get.

[This post contains video, click to play]

Miscellaneous

While text editing is not the main feature, or a point of focus, in Milanote it supports basic Markdown commands:

  • # - H1
  • '-' - unordered list
  • 1. - ordered list
  • > - quote

[This post contains video, click to play]

 

Another great feature are keyboard shortcuts. There are plenty of them, but just to tease you:

  • CMD/CTRL + Return - hit this when jotting down something and new note pops up
  • Hold ALT/Option while dragging and make a copy
  • CMD/CTRL + Z - undo as many steps you need

When you are done and/or ready to share your work there are a couple of ways of going about it.

Export

  • in PDF Canvas - this is basically a screenshot of the canvas you are currently viewing
  • PDF - a file with all your notes across all boards and canvases
  • Word - same as PDF, but in editable .docx format (both include pictures!)
  • Markdown
  • Plain text

Share

In the top bar type an e-mail address with whom you want to share your canvas and after they sign up/log in they can view your work and collaborate. You can view changes in the top right corner as well as who is currently working on it.

I shared a Board with my team leader so she could review Social Media copies, headlines, and visuals for a blog post I was working on. She did not have a Milanote account prior and when I asked her a day later what was her experience of creating it she said she didn't even remember it. Smooth.

In case you don't want the invited to edit your board, create a secret link which allows viewing only.

[This post contains video, click to play]

Ever note?

So, what is Milanote? The co-founder Ollie Campbell compares Evernote, bold move, to a box of lego. Yes, your notes, thoughts and such are with you everywhere and stored safely, but it's a pile of blocks. This is where Milanote comes in and allows to sort the pile of blocks (thoughts) according to shapes and colours (just an example, sort them anyway you like!). You can see what you have and begin the connecting process. Steve Jobs' quote "Creativity is just connecting things" is on point here.

But there is not much more to it. Collaboration and viewing are strong sides of this new Australian app, but collaboration works well also in Evernote. Plus, if you take your notes seriously with Evernote Plus you get to access them offline, while Milanote is web based (mobile version works fine, but there is no app yet). 

Forget PDF annotation or anything close to the way Evernote handles documents. In my experience, I couldn't attach PDFs, .docx, and videos in Milanote.

The release of Milanote couldn't have come under worse/better circumstances. Evernote has just released 8.0 version of its app and it rediscovers the company. Wired wrote "it will try to make the transition from a note-taking app to being the place you do your best thinking". Evernote CEO defends the huge update by saying it drove him crazy it took two minutes to open the app and jot down an idea, by that time the idea was probably gone. One of Milanote's claims is "fast & tactile interface makes it easy to experiment, play, generate ideas and explore possibilities". Well, this is awkward for the newbie, isn't it? It's true Evernote still displays lists of notes rather than canvas, but it took a huge step towards simplicity of noting (it actually got rid of steps between having and idea and noting it, but you get it) and it has plenty more to offer in compensation for one feature.

Pricing

Okay, for an average Joe who has more than 2 devices and wants to access notes offline Evernote is expensive. And while Milanote is in Beta it is free, but the co-founder Ollie answered my question in a chat and turns out it will cost you as well. It is not yet known how much, but he said this.

Milanote will be free to use until you hit the storage limit (100 notes, images or links). After that you can upgrade to a professional plan and get unlimited storage for a small monthly fee.

Small fee doesn't sound bad for unlimited storage.

Conclusion

What is interesting in Milanote is that everything you place on the canvas in a board (which really is a folder) is a card (which really is a note). Milanote comes in with its own labelling of stuff we already know under different names. I got used to it quickly.

However, taking on Evernote, the industry giant (you may call it elephant in the room - pun intended) suggests Milanote is on to something bigger and big companies educate.

Now, time will tell if this move was in fact bold, or premature.

Milanote: Alternative to Evernote

Post from: Foliovision

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Lia Rusnakova <![CDATA[Video of the Week – Parfaittitude]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=50635 2017-01-20T13:14:03Z 2017-01-18T18:34:44Z “Through synergy of intellect, artistry and grace came into existence the blessing of a dancer.”

Bringing different materials to life, Slovak designer Marcel Holubec W. makes you feel through fashion. Putting his heart and soul in every piece, you are going to want this deposition of him in your wardrobe.

[This post contains video, click to play]

Video of the Week – Parfaittitude

Post from: Foliovision

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Sanela Kurtek http://foliovision.com <![CDATA[How FV Player Helped Devin Shawn Launch His Video Platform]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=49006 2017-01-20T13:12:44Z 2017-01-11T14:18:24Z Devin Shawn studied accounting and was doing other people's taxes for years. After realizing that he really wasn’t happy working behind a computer and looking at spreadsheets all day, he decided that he won’t be the next Public accounting superstar. But coming across WordPress and the FV player, Devin thought that he could give that whole superstar thing another shot.

At that time he was already playing the guitar for about 18 years. He started with classic rock and blues guitar riffs on an old Stratocaster and it wasn’t long before he discovered his passion for playing country music:

When I first got into country music, one of my favorite artists was Brad Paisley. I just remember hearing his guitar solos and being blown away by his creativity and speed on the guitar.

devin-shawn

This was in the early Youtube era days, and there weren’t as many instructors online as there are today, so Devin thought that it could be a good thing to start posting how-to-play country songs videos online. Soon enough he realized he did the right thing right. Subscribers just started piling up immediately after the launch of his Youtube channel.

After realizing people were genuinely interested in learning how to play the guitar from Youtube videos, Devin decided he wanted more.

He wanted to get to the point where he could sell his lessons, while having a dedicated members’ only area. And since you can’t do that on YouTube, being a creative person as he is, Devin started messing around with website development:

I was cutting the website from scratch using Dreamviewer. But I just didn’t have that level of back end coding development knowledge.

Road to WordPress

After giving up on the website for a while and taking a two year break from it all, he decided it's time to get back to his passion, which was when he discovered WordPress:

I didn’t even know what it was really. I made a first WordPress site and then I found Restrict Content Pro plugin. I started looking more and more into it, and I was like - this is perfect.

Getting a second breath with creating his own video platform, Devin came across another music teacher Tony, who also had a website with online lessons. Tony had a looping feature on his website, which Devin thought was really cool and he started searching for ways to add it to his site. And that's how he discovered the FV Player.

[This post contains video, click to play]

AB Loop saves the day

Anybody who has ever tried to learn to play any kind of instrument online, but especially the guitar, knows the struggle - you keep rewinding parts to play, you waste a lot of time finding that right spot, you need to move your hand away from the guitar, and it can be really frustrating. But the frustration ends with the FV player and its AB loop, which works very well for the jam along practice tracks.

Adding AB Loop to the website didn't just help Devin get more subscribers, he uses it to improve his own guitar skills as well:

AB Loop is amazing, it’s so easy to use and there are so many options to customize it. It’s a huge selling point on my website. It is especially great for playing this fast bluegrass style and that’s where slowing down the video helps a lot too. I use this myself. I taught me a lot, I actually learned a couple dozen of songs that I’ve taught in my lessons using this.

Happy with his find and eager to share it with others, Devin added the AB Loop to his site as a free tool:

I added the AB Looper page on my site because a huge percentage of people find guitar song lessons on YouTube. There are so many free lessons on YouTube, but YouTube's video player is very basic and not geared towards learning guitar unlike the FV Player, which has the AB looping and playback speed control.

Talking about speed control, Devin says slowing down the video helps greatly if you are a teacher of the very popular, fast bluegrass country style:

To learn some of those fast bluegrass licks, myself, I was watching some videos of Tony Rice, Bryan Sutton, Dan Tyminski, and other famous bluegrass artists - they play so fast it's really hard to figure out their guitar riffs at full speed. There’s still so much to learn when it comes to country and bluegrass guitar. It never gets old!

[This post contains video, click to play]

Plans for the future

Right now, Devin has about 320 paying members and he's getting about 3-4 new members each day. At this rate he would like to have 1,200 members a year from now, which he says is a very realistic goal. At the moment, due to the time and effort it takes to create one tutorial, Devin is only able to post one lesson a week, but he'd like to change that:

It usually takes about 10 - 20 hours to produce one guitar lesson, including learning the song, recording, editing, and posting the final product. I'm able to post about one lesson a week myself, but with more and more members, it would be nice to pay some other teachers to help me produce several more lessons a week.

With easy to use tools like WordPress and FV player Devin realized that it truly is a great time to be an online music instructor.

LR00ML

How FV Player Helped Devin Shawn Launch His Video Platform

Post from: Foliovision

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Eduard <![CDATA[3 New Tricks For Tracking Videos with Google Analytics]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=49855 2017-01-10T19:33:01Z 2017-01-10T16:40:25Z There's no such thing as a free lunch. But if you don't mind to giving up your commercial data in exchange for free services, Google Analytics is the closest thing to free lunch. This kind of granular tracking used to cost $500/website per month before Google acquired Urchin and gradually rolled out its free analytics based on Urchin's technology.

Google Analytics doesn't just work for html content. It's possible to build hooks into video technology which allows Analytics to report back in depth on who is watching how much of your video. We have described how to do it with FV Player in our guide Using Google Analytics with FV Player some time ago. Now it has been updated with a couple of neat new tricks, that will make your life a lot easier.

google-analytics-logo

1. Tracking errors

It's now easy to track errors. This allows you to quickly correct any issues. You will know if someone tried to watch a video two days ago and it failed to load on his or her iPad.

That's right, you can find all this data in Google Analytics! For instance, you can find:

  • names of the video files that failed to load
  • pages and posts, where the errors occurred
  • types of errors
  • devices and browsers the visitors were using

There is much more to track, so check the Video Errors part for more info.

As soon as you have this info, you can go and test with a similar device to figure out if the error was a single accident or if you should be doing some further testing or adding additional video formats.

2. Automatic email reports

Let's say you host your videos on Amazon S3. You made some changes and you didn't realize that you moved a video used in an older blog post. How long will it take you to notice it? You can hope that someone who plays the video will report that it failed. Or he will just bounce away from your website, along with hundred others.

Setting up the email reports in GA

To avoid this kind of situation, set up an automatic email reporting. You will receive an email in the interval you set, with the list of all the errors and where they've occurred. Or track anything else you want, it's completely up to you. The best thing is that you can create different reports and merge them into one. Read how to set things up in the Automatic Email Reports part.

3. Tracking custom video ads

One of the many features of the Pro version of our player is the option to serve any video as an ad with your regular videos. But how do these ads perform? Do they fail? How many users skip them and when? All this and more can be found in Analytics. Take a look on the part Tracking custom video ads, and you will learn how to access these data.

custom-video-ads-tracking

Don't forget:

  • You can check our Changelog to see the full list of all the new fixes, features and changes
  • You can install our plugins via WordPress
  • You can buy our license and become a Pro user! You will get instant access to features like advanced Vimeo, YouTube and CloudFront integration, custom video ads and branding, and many other options
  • More resources, how-tos and guides are available in our Documentation
  • Free support is always available on our FV Player forums

3 New Tricks For Tracking Videos with Google Analytics

Post from: Foliovision

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Eduard <![CDATA[Updating the Documentation and Looking Forward to 2017]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=49660 2016-12-30T18:03:57Z 2016-12-30T18:03:36Z The shortcode editor has recently gone through a major update and looks and feels very differently (hopefully in the positive way). This change however means one big downside - large amount of screenshots in our documentation is outdated, so we began the painful process of updating all the old screenshots, so the guides will actually guide, not confuse.

creating-playlist-1

This downside has a silver lining - it means we'll dig more deeply through the existing guides and fix anything that needs to be fixed and rewrite anything that might be confusing. That said, you may notice some changes in the next weeks. Some of the recently updated guides are:

More are on the way.

Also, on behalf of our Foliovision team, I'd like to wish all our readers, users and clients a Happy New Year! 

Don't forget that:

Updating the Documentation and Looking Forward to 2017

Post from: Foliovision

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Eduard <![CDATA[New Features: Vimeo MPEG-DASH Support and More]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=49513 2016-12-28T16:12:17Z 2016-12-22T14:52:42Z The year 2016 is slowly moving to it's end. Although it wasn't a good year for everyone, we were working really hard here at Foliovision for the whole twelve months to constantly improve our FV Player. This is the last batch of new features this year (and there were a lot of them, just check the blog), so read on and enjoy. 

Vimeo MPEG-DASH

All the people who use the combination of Vimeo hosting with FV Player Pro will now have access to using the MPEG-DASH streams! We wrote more about the streaming protocol on our blog a couple of weeks ago. The bottom line is that it's a video streaming protocol with adaptive bitrate, very much like HLS, and it's supported on wide range of platforms. Here is an example:

[This post contains video, click to play]

You can check the console and see the MPEG-DASH load in the event "FV Player Pro: MPEG-DASH found!" If you're thinking about hosting your videos on Vimeo, read our guide How to Use Vimeo Plus/Pro and you will find some good reasons for why to go for this solution.

HLS.js

HLS is a very popular streaming protocol, although it's not supported on every platform - I'm mostly talking about the desktop browsers, which had to handle it via Flash fallback. There is however an open source Javascript library called hls.js, that allows browsers handle the stream via the Media Source Extensions specification and this script is now integrated in FV Player. Keep in mind that serving such videos will require some adjustments. Read more in our guide Using HLS With FV Player

Other news about Vimeo are not so great - it seems that Vimeo HLS is no longer supported on devices with iOS version 7 and below. We'll write more about this when we know more details.

Exoclick ads support

Exoclick is one of the five biggest online ad networks in the world. This popular platform however requires implementing a specialized external ad script. We recently managed to add this option to our FV Player Pro plugin, so from now on, the Pro users will be able to enter their Exoclick credentials and serve ads from this network with their videos.

To activate this, go to Settings -> FV Player Pro -> Actions tab -> Exoclick Ads (Pro) and fill in the required data.

Don't forget that:

New Features: Vimeo MPEG-DASH Support and More

Post from: Foliovision

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Alec Kinnear http://foliovision.com <![CDATA[Improvements in WordPress 4.4, 4.5, 4.6 and 4.7 for Business Publishers]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=49451 2016-12-28T15:59:55Z 2016-12-21T19:18:41Z At Foliovision, we like to stay behind a few versions on WordPress. This means our clients enjoy stable custom code for their complex membership and business sites. What it means in real terms is that a site usually stays on the major WordPress iteration on which it was released.

Staying on security updates enormously decreases a publisher's WordPress maintenance burden. We're really grateful to the core WordPress crew for continuing to post security updates for every WordPress release from 3.7 on. On the other hand, it's extremely rude of WordPress to constantly push small publishers to do major version updates without letting the publisher know security updates are available (1). Our BusinessPress plugin solves update anxiety. We lighten up the update notifications, give you more information about what version you are running and encourage you to install the latest security update. Most importantly, BusinessPress prevents clients from pushing through a major update accidentally and breaking their site. On the Christmas holidays for instance.

Update when you need the new features, not three times per year.
Update when you need the new features, not three times per year.

Right now we have sites on versions of WordPress from 4.1 all the way through to 4.7. For 2017, we'd like to consolidate on a single long term platform, so I've reviewed all the recent major versions of WordPress to pick the one on which we'll keep all our VIP clients for 2017. What I'm looking for first are game changing performance improvements, workflow enhancement or which add new technology which our clients would really use.

Significant improvements: SRCSET and Responsive Images – 4.4

The first version we are considering is version 4.4 as it supports responsive image handling. Retina2x can add some of this on pre-WordPress 4.4 but Retina2x works with post-4.4. It's a good idea to have the basic responsive image handling inside WordPress. Improving the display of images is so important to online communication, I'm disappointed that WordPress has declined to add proper support for hires images into core. Thank heavens for Jordy Meow's Retina2x.

How Retina2x and WordPress handle images
How Retina2x and WordPress handle images

After the responsive images in 4.4 through to 4.6, for the small publisher publishing in a latin character based language, there are no new features in WordPress which are so amazing to justify the upgrade (2). In 4.7 though there is a feature which really does matter to small business websites.

Significant improvements: Templates for Posts and Products – 4.7

The killer feature. is support for multiple templates for posts and products out of the box. This feature really simplifies managing complex sites and will result in a much cleaner database as less presentational code will show up in content areas.

For instance, adding multiple template support discourages the use of clumsy page builders within individual web pages. If you want a seriously alternative format for a kind of weblog post, built a template. If you have different kinds of products, you can have multiple templates within your store without hacking the PHP.

new WordPress post-attributes allow template options
new WordPress post-attributes allow template options

Other improvements and/or danger areas

We're also getting (I'm only including features we care about or which might break client sites):

  • 4.4 some kind of comment caching. We do advanced comment caching in our own Thoughtful Comments and should doublecheck how we tie into the core improvements and see if we can contribute to improve core comment caching further.
  • 4.5 different image processing (not sure about it): we should add an image processing options screen to BusinessPress as WordPress core refuses to do so.
  • 4.5 Script loading improvements: "Better support has been added for script header/footer dependencies. New wp_add_inline_script() enables adding extra code to registered scripts." We should check to see if we can't use this to elegantly reduce the number of scripts we load. In our own plugins, we might be able to use this feature to avoid loading FV Player scripts on pages where it's not needed.
  • 4.6 resource hints for faster serving and robust requests: "The HTTP API now leverages the Requests library, improving HTTP standard support and adding case-insensitive headers, parallel HTTP requests, and support for Internationalized Domain Names."
  • 4.6 improved multisite admin infrastructure: "Cached and comprehensive site queries improve your network admin experience. The addition of WP_Site_Query and WP_Network_Query help craft advanced queries with less effort." Better multisite is always welcome. Is there a real performance improvement?
  • 4.6 native fonts. This means that WordPress's interface will look more like the interface of the device which it's working on. Nice.
  • 4.6 JavaScript Library Updates: Masonry 3.3.2, imagesLoaded 3.2.0, MediaElement.js 2.22.0, TinyMCE 4.4.1, and Backbone.js 1.3.3 are bundled. Good to have the latest js library improvements.
  • 4.7 REST API which finally works (we're not likely to use it but it's worth knowing that it's there in case we want to create some other non-WordPress code to server WordPress content)
  • 4.7 custom bulk actions on lists (our programing team should really find this handy). A great feature when it's been implemented by more plugin developers.
  • 4.7 "improved" wp-hook processing: not sure if it's a real improvement and it could cause us serious compatibility issues. Alas, performance improvements are not clear cut. In any case, we'll need to make sure all our own plugins remain compatible.
  • 4.7 PDF thumbnail previews. We might be able to use these thumbnails on the front end on our real estate sites for PDF downloads.

Advertised big improvements we really don't care about or even find destructive:

  • 4.6 Inline Link Checker. Link auditing is really a separate art and post by post link cleaning is not viable.
  • 4.6 additional content recovery tools. The current draft technology was good enough and already too server intensive and database polluting by default.
  • 4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 4.7 huge number of changes and updates to the Customizer.

Special Notes about the Customizer

About the Customizer: coding a theme inside your CMS was always a stupid idea. It's still a stupid idea. The Customizer only exists as Matt Mullenweg is alarmed about how SquareSpace and Wix allow people to customize ther sites within the app. Hint to Matt: Wix and Squarespace don't do it within the CMS with javascript trickery but with a special hosted site building application. If you want to create a theme builder or customizer that would be the place to start. With a separate service or app.

Heck it would even be a great service for Automattic: a robust theme customizer. You upload your theme to the service and make changes.

In the meantime the Customizer tried to do much:

  • weighing WordPress down
  • creating additional security vectors (Customizer allows you to change your site, so of course)
  • creating another area where clients can easily damage their own carefully coded sites
  • encourages sloppy code (custom CSS adder)

A really useful plugin would be one to consolidate all your Customizer changes and package them in the right way to add to the core of your theme.

Conclusion

Recommended version for 2017: 4.7. If you have a site with a some legacy code issues, we'd recommend sticking to WordPress 4.4. If you have a custom site which is really difficult to update (and which doesn't have the tech budget for additional work), you can safely stay on WordPress 4.0, 4.1 or 4.2.

We haven't had any sites running on 3.7, 3.8 or 3.9 for a long time so I can recommend or not staying on them with really legacy sites. We did have a complex four year old ecommerce site come in with WordPress 3.8 this year for a full codelift. Huge amounts of the legacy code would have broken if we'd updated the site to a recent version. The work involved in bringing the site up to contemporary standards was over $10K. In this case, it was worth it as there were a lot of big improvements which could be made at once (the web and design had changed quite a bit in the meantime). What was amazing was how well the old site performed and how robust it was. Page loads were under two seconds and the old site had processed tens of thousands of Paypal transactions with minimal issues.

The point - which I think the WordPress core crew often misses - is don't break what's not broken. Change for the sake of change itself is a waste of effort and a large psychological distraction. If your site works, keep it stable. Focus on your business, not your technology.


Notes

(1) We also don't like that people like Aaron Jorbin never stop carping about updating to the latest major version of WordPress when it's often really bad advice which will create lots of extra work for the site owner or publisher.

I would encourage you to keep all the sites you host updated to the latest supported version of WordPress. This will prevent you from having any issue requiring plugin.php once 4.7 is released.

Aaron is far from the only one but his comment is the one close at hand today and typical.

Updating to the latest WordPress major iteration will not cure cancer. A lot of great looking and inspiring and important sites were published on WordPress 3.x. It's depressing that WordPress developers believe adding yet frequent technology hassles improves publishers lives or websites.

(2) I'm not arguing that the core structural improvements to allow multi-lingual URLs and enhance support for alternative character set and right to left languages are not important. They are. But if you are running an English or other mainstream European language website, those improvements are not important to you and do not justify updating your site. In fact, those changes will be invisible to you unless they happen to break your site.

Improvements in WordPress 4.4, 4.5, 4.6 and 4.7 for Business Publishers

Post from: Foliovision

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Alec Kinnear http://foliovision.com <![CDATA[HHVM vs PHP7 for WordPress: One Year Later]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=49260 2016-12-17T02:09:24Z 2016-12-17T02:09:24Z HHVM vs PHP 7
HHVM vs PHP 7

A year ago PHP7 launched. Those already using HHVM ran a bunch of benchmarks and came away with the conclusion that HHVM is much faster and is indeed the secret sauce of their superior pricey hosting. While scouting for hosting for a very high traffic site, I heard this from WPE, from Pressidium and from Kinsta. Out of the three principal advocates of HHVM, Kinsta's offer was the only one which made any kind of financial sense.

Since then, we've been using HHVM for that project with no end of grief in surprise collapses in the middle of the night or the middle of the weekend. Are the instability and incompatibilities worth it? For a smaller web publisher, certainly not. For a middle-sized web publisher (think top 2000 website in the US), probably not. For a very large sized web publisher (think Facebook or another top 100 website in the US) quite possibly. Here's why.

While the technologies are competitive now in December 2016, PHP7 will just get faster. It's much younger technology (not PHP itself but v7 with an intial 2016 release vs HHVM with 2013 release). HHVM will probably not mature for WordPress as WordPress weblogs and the general web are not its target clientele but rather Facebook itself and other huge roll your own CMS publishers.

Let's compare development activity with the issue trackers. It's not easy as HHVM is using GitHub and PHP is its own tracker. But let's try.

Facebook's HHVM GitHub issue tracker
Facebook's HHVM GitHub issue tracker
PHP bug tracker
PHP bug tracker

The HHVM/PHP compatibility problems will not go away. There are 247 open issues. HHVM is designed for Facebook and its core development team is funded by Facebook. Working with PHP CMS's is basically a hack on top of Facebook's code.

PHP supports developers and working with PHP applications is PHP's core mission. Here's a very good article making the case for both sides.

In terms of pure performance, PHP 7 surpasses HHVM in these very serious tests. Note: I was shocked at how badly WordPress does next to Drupal on the same server: 40 req/s vs 230 req/s for Drupal.

WordPress is an open source CMS fundamentally built by a radically motivated free software core (Matt Mullenweg and his VC funded band of brigands at Automattic are trying to hijack it as private software, but so far to limited success: they would lose too much of the community). PHP is WordPress.org's long term partner - indeed PHP runs its core benchmarks against WordPress. Most WordPress core developers neither like nor trust Facebook (or Google or Microsoft). So huge resources will go into making WordPress work well with PHP7 and limited resources will go into making HHVM work well with WordPress.

Those who prefer HHVM are often the type of people who don't like to share. For instance, this French team who advocate HHVM and have written code to speed WordPress up on HHVM write:

In short, we don’t know if we are going to share something, what will be this something, how we will share it and when…

I.e. NXTWEB have written an HHVM extension which really improves WordPress performance under HHVM but won't share it and will only use it to promote their hosting business. HHVM is based on selfishness and non-sharing. PHP7 is based on a common resource that we are all trying to improve.

NXTWEB hoarding their WordPress extensions for HHVM
NXTWEB hoards their WordPress extension for HHVM

If you'd like to help make a better world and share that world with others in a spirit of generosity, PHP7 is the clear choice. In both human and in software development, over time generosity usually wins.

HHVM vs PHP7 for WordPress: One Year Later

Post from: Foliovision

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Eduard <![CDATA[Introducing FV Player’s New Shortcode Editor]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=49245 2016-12-21T09:56:06Z 2016-12-16T15:21:05Z FV Player's shortcode editor just got a fresh new haircut - an updated user interface! The new horizontal look is cleaner, more easy to use and takes and removes the need to scroll down through all the active functions. You can find everything sorted into handy tabs, similar to those you know from the plugin's settings.

new-shortcode-editor

Having a new and more tidy interface is not the only upgrade that we made. The best part is the live video preview. Whether it's changing the dimensions of your video, activating features or anything else you can do in the shortcide editor will be immediately generated into the live preview of your video. That is located on the left side of the editor, giving you the instant feedback of how your video will look.

new-shortcode-editor2

No need to generate site previews for every little tweak you want to make anymore! 

If you want to stick with the old layout for some reason, you can do so by checking the option Enable old interface in Settings -> FV Player -> Post Interface Options

old-interface-option

Don't forget that:

Introducing FV Player’s New Shortcode Editor

Post from: Foliovision

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