We have another release coming out imminently, and it includes a major change in the way we deliver the video content in your albums.
The change doesn’t affect the Phanfare Photo application that you use to organize your pictures and videos, so it may go unnoticed by many or most of our users. But it will result in an improved experience for people who are viewing your online albums, which we’re very excited about.
In a nutshell, we’re going to convert your videos to Flash when we play them back in the web browser. Flash is simply an alternative way of encoding video files. Just as you have .avis and .mpegs, Flash is another flavor of moving picture.
Of course, we will in no way alter your original video files, which you will still be able to access and download via a “Download original” link in your online albums. But when you actually play the videos back in the web browser, you will be watching a Flash version instead of the original.
The conversion brings several benefits.
The first benefit is shortened download time. Flash files are often smaller than the original video files, with no appreciable loss in quality. Flash video also streams better than some other video file types, which means you don’t have to wait as long before the movie begins.
The second major benefit is better browser compatibility. Digital video is a mash of competing codecs and playback software. Flash, on the other hand, is a relatively solid cross-browser and cross-platform technology that most Web users already have installed on their machines (whether they know it or not).
Finally, Flash opens up a lot of interesting future feature enhancements, because the Flash player is much more than a video playback device. Expect to be seeing more Flash on the site as time goes on.
The change is going to be rolled out slowly over the coming days. Fortunately, it doesn’t require any action from you. Phanfare will continue to work the way you’re accustomed to, but hopefully a little bit faster and more smoothly.