Kaltura.com The Do-It-Yourself Video Solution?

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kaltura logoSome of us are the do-it-yourself types or don’t have a huge budget to implement a solution from some of the major providers of online video delivery systems. Some of us just need to get our hands dirty and some of us are proponents of Open Source and all that it has to offer. In the realm of online video delivery Kaltura looks like the place that these people turn to.

Kaltura has taken an Open Source approach to an online video delivery system. They offer plugins for popular content management systems including Drupal, WordPress and Wiki. They also have solutions for PHP and Ruby on Rails. Kaltura offers both DIY (self service) and business solutions which include hosted, management solutions that they will help mold into your perfect video delivery platform.

I have been working with the PHP application and I must say the documentation is sorely lacking. There is no quick and easy how-to and that means that you’ll need a web programmer to get it installed and functioning properly. If you’re using Ruby or PHP you are sort of on your own as the documentation is far from easily readable, there are no step-by-step installation and configuration notes and the community forums are sparsely populated.

One cool thing about Kaltura is that the player is totally configurable and brandable. That means that you can get it to look and feel exactly how you want with some effort.

Other cool features of Kaltura are the ability for user-submitted content to be uploaded and collaborative videos to be made from videos, sound and images. The application can also record directly from a webcam and manage multiple resolutions and HD. The system can be used to show playlists that are custom made and allows for remixing, annotating and subtitling.

For those with the cash to lay out Kaltura offers hosted business solutions that include full service support, customization and training as well as hosting and the first 10GB of bandwidth. This might be a more cost effective way to go than some of the other big names in the game at present. It might even be the way to go if you don’t want the headaches of getting a basic implementation up and running, and it probably will be a headache.

One of the big features of the service is the video management backend for administrators. It offers metrics on viewer behavior, thumbnail creation, content review and administration, CMS integration and more. There’s a batch upload process that can utilize a CVS file to upload all of your videos at once. But I found that it’s a very time consuming process as if often fails to verify file names and URLs. Of particular note is that the system does not like video files with spaces in the file names. It will give you a failed URL message every time from what I saw even though it should be working on a comma delimited basis.

Another thing I don’t like is that to manage your videos you enter from one page, to read documentation you enter another, to get to the FAQ you are in a totally different place. The whole project seems like it needs a CMS and re-organization itself. If that’s truly the case then I’d question them being able to manage my content and project to my satisfaction.

On the other hand, I did use one of their pre-made plugins on a project in the past and it’s great if you’re using that particular CMS. So if you are just starting to look at building a video website then I would definitely suggest that you take a look at the Drupal, WordPress or Video-Wiki implementations.

There are many great implementations of Kaltura available on the web, the only problem is that most of them are using one of the pre-made plugins and if you are using a different CMS you’re going to do a lot of reading, research and leg work. If you’re a hardcore dedicated-to-the-cause type you’ll eventually get it figured out like I did. But don’t go scouring the web for help on a straight PHP implementation, it’s just not there. For example the tutorial on Pre-populating the editor with content, is just not available unless you decide to ask them for an account so you can read the Kaltura Wiki. That strikes me as odd for an open source platform.

There’s no doubt that Kaltura is a powerful, versatile Open Source video management system. However, if you want to do the installation yourself you can expect long hours, lots of work and little help. The documentation is not for the faint of heart and you’ll be scratching your head, pounding your fists and possibly even give up. It’s almost as if the labyrinthine documentation is designed to do just that so you turn to them for help and a paid package. No prices are evident anywhere on their site and we all know what that means…if you have to ask how much it is, you can’t afford it.

I have had some success at showing a single video in the player at a time. I have not had success importing the over 1,100 videos I wanted to, nor have I been able to get a gallery of all of those videos created so that I could implement the system as I wanted.


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