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                                                                DRAFT JUN28/13

What’s new in Pachyderm 3.0

Welcome to Pachyderm 3.0! This new version of Pachyderm has been vastly improved, both with new features and a significantly refactored and improved code base. New features have been added for everyone: authors, administrators, and developers.

New Documentation

This new release is quite different from version 2.1; version 3 is NOT just a drop-in replacement, so it has been documented extensively. The documentation will be delivered in multiple pieces soon, each relating to one aspect of Pachyderm's installation or configuration.

Authoring Benefits

HTML5 Authoring/Publishing

Pachyderm 3 now supports creation of HTML5 presentations that play on non-Flash devices (most notably, iOS devices -- iTouch, iPhone and iPad), as well as desktop and laptop computers. All of the Pachyderm 2.1 templates have been translated into HTML5. HTML5 presentations are 1024 x 768 pixels, filling the entire browser window on an iPad or typical computer screen. The Pachyderm authoring environment is also HTML5 compatible, so you can create your presentations on mobile devices as well. The only difference required for authoring an HTML5 presentation is that video files must be in .mp4 format.

If you change the format of your presentation after you have begun authoring (from Flash to HTML5 or visa versa), you must republish your presentation once to get screen preview to switch formats.

Users with CSS skills can modify the look-and-feel of published HTML5 presentations by using the CSS overrides file that is part of the HTML5 template architecture.

Flash & HTML5 Templates Included in Presentation Folder

Regardless of the format you have chosen for your presentation (Flash or HTML5) when you publish, Pachyderm 3 includes both the Flash and HTML5 templates in your presentation folder. The presentation's Index.html file is set to launch whichever set of templates you have chosen for your format (Flash or HTML5). Two other index files (an indexF.html for Flash, and an index5.html for HTML5) are also included in the presentation folder so you can launch either format of the presentation from these if you wish.

Remember, however, that if your presentation includes video, a copy of each video in the correct format must be added to the folder for the presentation work (e.g. for a Flash presentation with a video myvideo.flv, you must add a video: myvideo.mp4 to the presentation folder for it to work with the HTML5 templates).

Link Directly to Individual Screens

Another big new advantage of HTML5 presentations is that each screen in the presentation has a unique url, so it is possible to link directly into any screen in a presentation. For screens with multiple "pages" like Layers, Slider, and Series, you can link to any individual page. So for example, you can share a link with someone that goes directly to point 3 on the Slider screen in your presentation. Users have been requesting this capability for a long time and it is now here with the HTML5 templates in Pachyderm 3!

Improved Media Playback Controls

HTML5 presentations also include a full featured media playback controller. This includes a timer, a progress bar with draggable playhead, and a zoom box for enlarging the video.

Flash Authoring Still Available

Flash authoring/publishing is still available in Pachyderm 3. You choose the format of your presentation when you first create it, and you can change the format later if you wish. Just remember that if you change your presentation format, you must change the format of any video files to match: .flv files for a Flash presentation, and .mp4 files for an HTML5 presentation.

New Flash Video Player

Flash presentations also have a new video player that has a built-in progress bar and timer for the video. The progress bar has a draggable play head that can be used to re-position video playback. This is another long-time request of Pachyderm 2.1 users that is now available in Pachyderm 3. Older presentations can be upgraded to the new video player by dropping the new video player files into an existing presentation.

Expand/Collapse Editing

When authoring a screen, each screen component is clickable to expand or collapse just that screen element. This makes it very easy to expand and collapse individual screen elements as you author, and avoids you having to scroll through a long list of elements to find the one you want to edit. After placing media or previewing a screen, the Expand/Collapse state is maintained, so no more constantly scrolling down while authoring to re-find your place!

The Save button has been eliminated on screen authoring because Pachyderm now automatically saves what you have entered after each authoring action. No more accidental loss of data!

Improved Media Manager

Pachyderm's Media Upload function now checks for valid file types and reports an error when an invalid file upload is attempted. File extensions are used for validation, so making sure your files have their proper extensions is a must. The .mp4 video file type has been added to Pachyderm to support video in HTML5 presentations.

The complete set is composed of the following media types, files of these types will appears in the Media Browser: .jpg, .png, .gif, .mp3, .flv, .mp4, .mov, and .swf plus these other types, which will upload but not show in the Media Browser: .pdf, .doc, .xls, .aif., .webm, and .ogg.

The Media Manager page now automatically displays the media you have uploaded for browsing, without having to do a search. And your most recent uploads will be displayed at the top of the media list.

A new "Preview" button on each item in the media list allows you to preview any piece of media directly from the list. Browsing and Searching for media defaults to only the media you have uploaded, making it easier to find what you are looking for. And an "All Media" selector allows you to see items that have been marked "Public" by others if you wish.

By default the browse/search media page displays all types of media. New Filter Media buttons on the Media page now let you elect to see only images (.jpg, .png, .gif), audio (.mp3), or video (.flv, .mp4, .mov, .swf ) files if you wish.

Publish Improvements

Pachyderm's Publish page now reports any missing or wrong format media files before it builds your presentation. And after publish is completed it reports the time it took to build your presentation.

Administrative Benefits

Overall Functionality Improvements

  • Improved stability, reliability, performance, and load capacity.

  • Reduced size of application from 80 MB to 25 MB.

  • Improved simplicity and reliability of installation process.

  • Pachyderm can now be deployed to run under Apache (httpd) or Apache Tomcat.

  • The Migration function in the Wonder libraries make it easy and reliable to upgrade existing Pachy 2.1 instances to 3.0, and for future upgrades.

  • The base server url stored in Pachyderm's DB for assets and presentations has been replaced by a configurable system variable, making it easy to relocate a Pachyderm instance.

  • Many authoring environment look-and-feel attributes are parameterized to simplify branding of your Pachyderm instance (e.g. background, boarder and top-stripe colors, button color/style, 3 slots for logos on the splash page etc.).

  • Improved logging control and detail to assist in diagnosing problems.

  • Notification of problems from log manager? [Serious errors are reported by email].

  • Permitted file upload types [filename extensions] are easily changed by editing a text file.

  • All system parameters have been consolidated into editable configuration files; the DEFAULTS database table is no longer used.

  • A Forgotten Password function is available for users.

  • Administrators can set a banner message to display on the login page.

  • To assist with cruft management, Pachyderm temp directories are automatically emptied when the application is restated.

Additional functions have been added to Pachyderm's Administrator Page to assist the the person managing the Pachyderm instance.

SysAdmin / Developer Benefits

Integration of Wonder libraries

Project Wonder[1] is a huge open source collection of WebObjects frameworks that add significant stability and some big conveniences in programming database access.

  • Converted to Wonder EditingContexts (ERXEC) in a dozen or more cases. It's not all of them, but it's nearly all that are used for changing the database. This provide more automated locking of the database thus avoiding deadlocks.

  • Access to the DB makes much better use of the inherent power of the Enterprise Objects framework. There was a lot of code removed because it was doing work that the native WebObjects libraries do (much better).

  • Cleaned up, consolidated and re-factored of code to simplify future development. Where the same process was performed previously in duplicated code paths, these have been reduced to common use of one code path.

  • The Wonder 'Migration System' was brought into use to update some data records and fields (see below). This mechanism is used to make 'one-time' database changed. Any migration sequence will be executed only once -- a restart of the application will not try to repeat the conversion.

  • Simplified and consolidated CSS style sheets, folder structure, and application parameters. Reduced the number of stylesheet files.

  • Simplified workflow for developing and updating test instances

  • Developer's install of Pachyderm project

Other Technical Improvements

Pachyderm uses the MySQL database, but there were several aspects of this which needed improvement because they were dangerous or inefficient. Some of the tables in the database were not being used at all. There remain much opportunity for improvement in this area.

  • Determining the 'type' of the asset in a media file is an operation that Pachyderm does many times. Not only was the process unnecessarily general (given less that a dozen 'legal' media types), the result was not stored the database, requiring the asset type in the same file to be determined over and over again.

A Migration sequence was written to scan all the asset records in the database and check the asset type field-- if it was wrong, or missing, it was reset to a correct value bases of the asset filename's extension.

  • Another Migration sequence was used to change all the location fields of the asset record from URLs to relative file names.

This removes all host-specific information from the asset location which enables being able to move the entire asset collection if necessary. The host- specific information is retained in a non-database resource and can be easily adjusted.

  • Yet another Migration sequence is run the first time a fresh installation of Pachyderm is started -- it's job is to create all the necessary bales in the database and to populate some of the with basic information.

  • the 'defaults' mechanism, which was driven by a set of database records (with the lesser option of reading them from a specially formatted file), has been changed to use a series of standard Java Properties files. The intent is the simplification of aspects of the installation process.

The defaults Properties file, and a couple of other Properties files, provide site-dependent parameters and other initialization values for the application. The goal is to allow behavioral changes in the application by way of editing those files -- Property files are just plain text and easily read and edited.

  • the HTML of all the screens has been tidied and reformatted using WebObjects in-line templating.

  • More widespread use of CSS and Javascript.

  • Redundancies have been eliminated, both in terms of code and Java libraries -- the application is about one third the size it was, and is faster and more capable!

Known Issues in Pachyderm 3.0

IE has some screen screen layout issues when authoring. We are working on fixing these. Pachyderm 3 works well with Chrome, FireFox and Safari browsers.

Closed captions for mp4 videos are currently not implemented.

Transcripts for media files must be created by pasting text into the transcript window and saving. Uploading a textfile to create a trascript is not currenlty working.

At this time, the publish page does not accurately report missing media or wrong media types for the presentation format.

Because of security restrictions in Chrome and FireFox, HTML5 presentations cannot be played from a local hard disk with these browsers. However, Safari will play HTML5 presentations locally. All three browsers play HTML5 presentations fine from a web server.

Bug Fixes from 2.1

A cancelled media selection doesn't loose the previous selection

Upload of invalid file types is not permitted


Source: readme.md, updated 2013-06-28

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