Configuring Your Player for Cross-Device Success

Aug 9, 2018


Want to adapt your videos for multiple screens? Check out these 3 tips from JW Support

As a JW Player Support Engineer, one of the questions I am asked most is, “How do I best set up one player to deliver my video/ads/live stream across our desktop and mobile sites?” Well, a seamless viewing experience across the most-widely used browsers and devices is exactly what the player was born to provide. No one wants to worry about how their player will affect page layout on, say, the smaller screen of Safari on iOS, or wonder whether their ad will play on Chrome for Android. To this end, here are three considerations to keep in mind when configuring your player.

1. Set your player up for ‘responsive’ mode vs. set aspect ratio

In the early days of web design (or, just a few years ago) a video player that would, by default, resize to fit your browser was a mere aspiration. Even if a website were set up responsively, by using Bootstrap or some other framework that did the heavy CSS lifting, the video player size still posed a problem.

JW Player solved the video part of the resizing problem several versions ago. Just check the box for ‘responsive’ in the dashboard player builder, and your video will adjust to just the right size across browsers and devices. No more media queries or design headaches! Paired with our support of adaptive streaming technologies, this built-in functionality is the definition of ‘set it and forget it.’

2. Use HLS

JW8 supports two video file types, MP4 and WebM, and two different streaming protocols, HLS and DASH. But for the best and most consistently excellent performance, Apple’s HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) technology is the way to go. HLS is basically MP4, delivered over HTTP to your desktop or device in short segments, indexed in a file called a ‘manifest,’ an asset denoted by the .m3u8 file. You could go old-school and link directly to an MP4 in your player configuration, which has its uses. For example, you may run a learning management platform and want your students to be able to easily download videos to watch offline. You have subscribers who pay up front for content, so you are not that worried about anyone stealing your content. MP4 might then work best for you.

On the other hand, you can see how video delivered in short segments one at a time, via HLS, provides the awesome side benefit of increased content security, without having to enable token signing or otherwise lock down your urls .

HLS is provided to all JW Player customers at any subscription level, so upload a video file to the dashboard, grab the embed code, and take a look at it in a page. Or, if you are hosting your own HLS, you can give your stream url a try in our stream tester .

3. Use the JW Cloud-hosted Player

Customers are using videos in a huge diversity of ways, from editorial storytelling, to e-commerce, to broadcast-style live streaming, and more. For this and many other reasons, JW Player provides several options for ways to instantiate the player on a page, including cloud-hosted, self-hosted, and single-line embed.

The single-line embed works great, if you are looking to get your video onto your site quickly and with minimal effort. From your JW dashboard, you can copy and paste the embed code directly into your HTML. Save, reload your url, and click ‘play’ in the page. Done.

If you are a web developer or someone creating test environments for your videos, the self-hosted player solution could be an option. You would download the player library from the dashboard, as you would any other Javascript library, and host it on your own server. The self-hosted player locks down the player version, which can then only be manually updated. The player will still send a variety of pings to the JW servers (for example, an ‘embed’ event), so in a sense, the player is never fully ‘self-hosted’. You will also need to be aware that your license key is more exposed when using the self-hosted player.

However, the most recommended way of embedding the player on a page is by using the cloud-hosted player solution, with video hosted in JW Platform. I describe this method to customers as the best of both worlds between JW Player built-in functionality and customizable features (see Option 1 here ). When you add the JW Player cloud-hosted library to your site, you harness  all the capabilities of the player, configuring it to your specifications, using our Javascript API .

When your videos are hosted in JW Platform, you are able to access the widest range of data possible on viewer interaction in JW Analytics . The cloud-hosted player will also rotate your license key ~once a day, so concerns about stolen license keys are no more. Like I said, the best of both worlds.

Learn more about how JW Player can support your video business. Schedule time to speak with a video expert.

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