Site News #17: Video Experiments

Hi graceful devs! Here’s a summary of what’s new since last month…

Probably the most visible updates are the continued iteration on video format. I’ve been putting a ton of investment into:

A photo of Avdi's desk/studio setup with green screen, many studio lights and a cluttered desktop
It’s not a messy office, it’s a rich office
  • Pragmatic studio lighting & sound, with the goal of enabling more on-camera footage in videos while keeping time-to-publish manageable.
  • Streamlined shooting, editing, and publishing workflows to offset the drastic increase in complexity that on-camera footage adds to the process.
  • Getting myself more comfortable with speaking to a camera😅

You’ll see the results of all this iteration in the most recent videos. Which brings us to…

Content Updates

There are a couple of new episodes on the site. (Yeah, I’m calling them episodes again. They were always “episodes” in the RubyTapas era, and I still think of them that way even though we’re slotting them into courses / garden paths these days.)

Site Improvements

  • Better new-content notifications: if you’re subscribed to new-topic notifications, you’ll notice “new content” emails are prettier and more timely. After years of wrestling with balky RSS-to-email solutions, I’ve switched to a new in-app solution for generating those emails and sending them out automatically.
  • Searchable videos: Complementing the changes to video production, I’m experimenting with a new combination of video player (Presto) and video host/CDN (Bunny.Net). One user-facing side effect: the most recent videos have a search box, where you can search through the video by caption text!
  • Search by episode number: Although we’ve de-emphasized episode numbers in favor of organizing content into courses, quite a lot of the video scripts and voiceovers still reference episode numbers. I’ve now added and prioritized the episode number metadata in search indexes. So if you happen to know the number of an episode you’re looking for, and that number in the site search box, the pertinent episode should now be the first result.
  • Fixed 404s: Speaking of references to other episodes, a lot of the video scripts had links to other topics in an outdated URL scheme, which were leading to 404s. I’ve added a blanket redirect pattern which should fix a lot of broken internal links.
  • New spambot filter: I’ve been fighting with persistent spam site registrations for a long time. I’ve finally found a blocklist-based spam filter and firewall service that seems to actually be effective in eliminating the problem. If the filter causes any issues for you, please do let me know.
  • New social: complementing our Twitter account and YouTube channel, we now have a LinkedIn page and a Facebook page. (Technically we already had the Facebook page, but it was still RubyTapas-branded. It has now been officially brought forward into the Graceful era!) Yes, yes, Mastodon is coming soon 😉

I think that hits all the highlights. Until next time, stay graceful!

— Avdi