As a video game website, Wildfire Games wants to be able to do some cool things with videos, images, music, and more. Games are all about media, and any good game website has to do a good job at showcasing their media. After all, what good is the website if it doesn't good a good job at showcasing the game (not the one you just lost, either)? One of the first major customization that I wanted to make for their new website was to handle videos in a way that allowed for them to be showcased and to do so with minimal maintenance. We're all volunteers, so we need to take maintenance effort seriously. I decided to experiment with writing a WordPress plugin that would handle their video management.

YouTube API

In order to do this, I thought that I would leverage something that we already use: YouTube. We have a channel, and YT had the ability to organize videos into channels and to add tagging, ratings, comments, etc. Why not leverage those and find a way to consume them on our website? After doing a little bit of Google'ing, I found that Zend produces a YouTube API for PHP. Awesome! That takes a lot of the guess work out of understanding how to form URLs, parse arguments, and all of the nasty string stuff that comes along with calling a web API.

Using the API was really easy. It only took a few lines of code to get the API to work with my test app:

require_once 'Zend/Loader.php'; Zend_Loader::loadClass('Zend_Gdata_YouTube'); $yt = new Zend_Gdata_YouTube(); $yt->setMajorProtocolVersion(2);

After that, getting a feed from a user is really easy:

$videoFeed = $yt->getUserUploads('play0ad');

Looping through the results and printing the result of the feed is slightly more code, but still not tough by any means:

function printVideoFeed($videoFeed) {

    foreach ($videoFeed as $videoEntry) {
        // the videoEntry object contains many helper functions
        // that access the underlying mediaGroup object
        echo 'Video: ' . $videoEntry->getVideoTitle() . "<br />";
        echo 'Video ID: ' . $videoEntry->getVideoId() . "<br />";
        echo 'Updated: ' . $videoEntry->getUpdated() . "<br />";
        echo 'Description: ' . $videoEntry->getVideoDescription() . "<br />";
        echo 'Category: ' . $videoEntry->getVideoCategory() . "<br />";
        echo 'Tags: ' . implode(", ", $videoEntry->getVideoTags()) . "<br />";
        echo 'Watch page: ' . $videoEntry->getVideoWatchPageUrl() . "<br />";
        echo 'Flash Player Url: ' . $videoEntry->getFlashPlayerUrl() . "<br />";
        echo 'Duration: ' . $videoEntry->getVideoDuration() . "<br />";
        echo 'View count: ' . $videoEntry->getVideoViewCount() . "<br />";
        echo 'Rating: ' . $videoEntry->getVideoRatingInfo() . "<br />";
        echo 'Geo Location: ' . $videoEntry->getVideoGeoLocation() . "<br />";
        echo 'Recorded on: ' . $videoEntry->getVideoRecorded() . "<br />";

        // see the paragraph above this function for more information on the
        // 'mediaGroup' object. in the following code, we use the mediaGroup
        // object directly to retrieve its 'Mobile RSTP link' child
        foreach ($videoEntry->mediaGroup->content as $content) {
            if ($content->type === "video/3gpp") {
                echo 'Mobile RTSP link: ' . $content->url . "<br />";

        echo "Thumbnails:<br />";
        $videoThumbnails = $videoEntry->getVideoThumbnails();

        foreach($videoThumbnails as $videoThumbnail) {
            echo $videoThumbnail['time'] . ' - ' . $videoThumbnail['url'];
            echo ' height=' . $videoThumbnail['height'];
            echo ' width=' . $videoThumbnail['width'] . "<br />";
            echo '<img src="' . $videoThumbnail['url'] .'" />';
            echo '<br />';
        echo '<br />';

You'll have to excuse the poor code formatting...I couldn't get it to look nice in WP.  Oh well.  Anyways, that's a lot of power with only a little bit of code!  You can also pull user comments, ratings, and just about anything else you could find right on YT.  Just imagine what I could do with a plug-in.  I could allow a "media manager" to specially tag videos for front page display or with special tags of some sort that dictate which pages those videos display on within the WFG site.  The way those tags are interpreted could be handled within WP through an admin plug-in configuration panel.  Someone could choose where a certain "class" of video (video found on a certain channel, perhaps with a certain tag) would be displayed by embedding a special tag within the target page.  We could do a lot with a little!

Doing More

WFG also wants user videos.  Our users are our supporters and our motivation.  While searching around, I found a Google App Engine app called YouTube Direct.  The idea is that a website can embed a snippet of code on their page to elicit videos for a contest.  Each such portal would be associated with a contest.  When a user clicks on that entry bit, they will be prompted to log into YouTube and to either select a current video or to upload a new one.  Once a video is identified or uploaded, it will be added to a queue for contest admins to look at.  Note that the video lives on the user's account and that they still own it...the video itself doesn't actually sit in a queue.  Admins can accept or reject videos, leave comments and ratings, and a few other things that would reside within the app.  Once videos are accepted, they're added to a channel on the host account (the one running the contests) for all to see.  Once again, this is key because it's pretty low maintenance, utilizes free resources or resources that we already have, and adds a lot of value.

All in all, I'm pretty impressed with what I can do with a few lines of code and YouTube.

And I've started my plugin development.  I've been adding code as I've been able to.  It's slow, but moving.  I get to add code once per week or every other week, which is slower than I'd like, but at least I'm moving along.

- bstempi