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Media Blogging for Roller

For the past five months I've had the pleasure of mentoring two San Jose State Univ. graduate students, Ganesh Mathrubootham and Tanuja Varkanthe, who are working on a project for classes CMP 295A and B. They picked one of the projects that I first proposed for Google Summer of Code and then for Glassfish's student outreach program, Media Blogging for Apache Roller. It's turned out to be a major project and the central new feature in the upcoming Roller 5.0 release.

The plan

The basic idea is to make it really easy to upload images, audio and video files to Roller, and really easy to include them in Roller blog posts and RSS/Atom feeds. Of course, the devil is in the details and Ganesh and Tanuja really have those covered. They have put together the most detailed and well thought-out plan and design ever for a new Roller feature. You can find the proposal page and the full Media Blogging for Roller Project Plan (PDF, 2mb) on the Roller wiki. Here's a key excerpt from the project summary:

Roller currently lacks support for the latest blogging features. Roller does allow users to upload any type of content to their blogs and include that content on blog entries as images or podcasts, but lacks tools to make media blogging a seamless experience for bloggers. Interface to manage uploaded files is not sortable and not page-able. Once the user has uploaded a file, which could be an image or a podcast, he needs to explicitly cut and paste the URL into his blog post.

Overall, Roller’s support for media blogs is currently limited to basic file upload functionality, which is cumbersome to use for creating media blogs. This project will revamp the existing file upload interface to incorporate powerful media blogging features into Roller. Also, successful media management websites such as Flickr and YouTube are driven by a public media library, offering different ways for users to search and locate the content of their like. This feature incorporated into a blog server can make it very powerful and we intend to do that as part of this project.

To get an idea of what this is all about, let's take a look at some screenshots/wireframes taken directly from the project plan.

New media file upload dialog

First up is the new media file upload dialog. There are a couple of interesting things here. We'll have metadata for each upload, including description, tags and copyright message. We'll also have the option of including the file in the gallery. We'll support a media gallery for each blog, and new files added to the gallery are included in a special media feed for the blog.

screenshot of new upload dialog

File Uploads browser

To make it easy to manage your media files, the proposal includes a new upload browser interface, with a tabular and a hierarchical view. Thumbnails will be automatically generated on upload. Search and filtering controls will make it easy to find and operate on the files you are looking for, based on file metadata.

screenshot of new upload browser

Select media dialog

When you are writing a blog post, you'll be able to browse for and include media files without leaving the blog editor interface. You'll be able to choose the size and orientation of the image or video in the blog post, as you can see below.

screenshot of new add media dialog

Needless to say, I'm pretty excited about these new features, and to looking forward to a major new Roller release, and one where I don't have to do much of the work. If you want more information on 5.0 then check the Apache Roller 5.0 proposal page. And if you want to help out then join the Roller development mailing list and introduce yourself.


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