IIS 7 Media Pack Web Playlists is Live

Yesterday, we launched the first CTP of Web Playlists, a server-side playlist solution for progressive download scenarios. The Web Playlists enables key scenarios and is totally format agnostic. If you have media on your IIS server, Web Playlists has a way for you to distribute it. We are really excited as we continue to work on this feature and hope this really adds value to your business.

The key scenarios enabled by CTP1 of Web Playlists are:

  • Monetization of content - Web Playlists makes it easier for a web site delivering media content to monetize the same by adding pre-roll and inline ads. The playlist creator has an option to disable seeking, skipping on the ad. This helps ensure revenue to continue supporting media content on the site
  • Compliance - Web Playlists has an option to control Skipping back to the previous song. This helps in complying with standards like those of Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). These standard limit the number of times a song could be played in a particular time by an internet radio station.
  • Shared Hosting scenarios - Web Playlists allows protecting content from other sites in the shared hosting scenarios by enabling only relative paths to be added to the playlist. This is a setting on the server that can be disabled. By default, physical and UNC paths are disabled to aid shared scenarios. The Web Playlists for IIS 7.0 - Setup and Configuration walk through talks about how to enable / disable this setting
  • Enterprise scenarios - The same setting above could be enabled to facilitate enterprise scenarios where the content is usually distributed and only administrators create playlists normally. The Web Playlists for IIS 7.0 - Setup and Configuration walk through talks about how to enable / disable this setting

Some of the compelling features of Web Playlists can be summarized as below:

  • Server Controlled Media delivery Playlists - Web Playlists uses a session on the server side to control the client viewership. It allows the server administrator to specify sequence and also specify controls like disabling skip, seek on media content in the playlist.
  • Works with most media players - Web Playlists uses client-side playlist (.asx) as delivery medium to the media player. This enables it to run with any player that can support .asx as a client side playlist format. The walk through Web Playlists for IIS 7.0 – Using Playlist with different Media Players describes how you can make playlist work with Silverlight, Flash Player and Windows Media Player.
  • Protects from direct access to Media files - Web playlists does not give out the URLs to actual media content. Instead, it tokenizes (obfuscates) the URLs and then sends them to the player in the form of an ASX file. This protects the media content from any user with malicious intent
  • Accepts credentials to access protected media content - In several situations media content on the server/ share might be protected with credentials. The Impersonation feature of playlists allows access to such protected content. You can specify the credentials to be used with a particular path in playlist impersonation settings.
  • Format Agnostic - Playlist allows you to add any media content to the playlist and on the client side if you have a player that can support the media content and the asx format you are good to go.
  • Remote media content - Web Playlists also allows adding remote URLs as media entries in the playlist. This enables the scenarios where the content is on a remote server, for example, ads could be obtained from a third party ad server.
  • Simple playlist format - The playlist format used makes it easy to create playlists from your existing applications and thus integrating playlist capability into them. The Web Playlists for IIS 7.0 - Creating a Simple Playlist walk through talks about playlist format in details.

As we continue to innovate with this feature as it goes through its life cycle and we would be really glad to hear from you. Is there some feature you would really love to have in Web Playlists? Please let us know.

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  • Are the web playlists supposed to serve as the server side playlists in Windows Media Services, since those are not supported by Silverlight?

    I can't find any examples of dynamic server side playlists? Do you expect people to generate all their playlists manually?

  • Hi Einar

    Web Playlists is a WMS SSPL like solution for progressive download scenarios. They address scenarios that are similar to WMS SSPL but only when you are serving videos out of a web server.

    Could you please provide more details on your scenarios? We can then discuss whether Web Playlists are a suitable way for you and how to go about it.

  • I have been using server side playlists in WMS as a way to protect content and provide good user experience in the case the requested content does not exists.

    I simply point a WMS publishing point to an asp.net page which generates the SSPL according to the requested media and the requesting user's ticket (querystring variables in the URL f.ex. mms://myserver/PPoint?media=12&ticket=DRF94DP17).
    If the user does not have permission to view the content, I can for example display a static JPG picture telling him so, else I can feed the media file to the user - without the user ever seeing the "real" path to the media file.

    Since SSPL are not supported in Silverligt (and in fact only work properly in Windows Media Player), I cannot use SSPL for this.

    Can you point out to me what possibilities I have?
    - Write a custom WMS Authorization plugin?
    - Write other kinds of WMS plugins?
    - Dynamically generate an "IIS Web Playlist"?

  • Hi Einar

    We will be releasing Web Playlists CTP2 very soon and it will address these scenarios for you in a very convenient manner.

    For now, you could create an isx dynamically in your asp app and return the same to be served to the user. The isx would contain a link to the media or the jpg as the case maybe.

    You could also do this with WMS auth plug-in but that would not allow you to return an jpg. You can just return and error back to the client and have a java script to catch that error and display a jpg.

    Another way to do this is to write an event plug-in that can check URL parameters and redirect if token is invalid.

    Also, I believe Silverlight media element cannot play a Jpg so you might need an error video. I am not sure though.

  • @Anonymous. It is agnostic of content. MP4 should work.

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