Blog from March, 2010

PBS will take the JIRA producer issue tracking system offline Wednesday, March 31, from 6:45-7:15pm ET for maintenance. Producers won't be able to file or view their JIRA tickets during this window. Please contact your program manager if you have any questions.

Release 18.4 of COVE

The most recent version of COVE (Release 18.4) went live earlier this week.  Here are the most important features of this release you need to know about.

Chapter Bar above Timeline

The chapter bar has now been moved above the player controls in the COVE video player. This change is reflected in all COVE products including the PBS Video portal and Partner Player. This feature allows the video player to now be a uniform height and more easily integrated into new and existing tools.

Check your Partner Player implementations!

Because of the new position of the chapter bar there may be extra space in your implementations of the COVE Partner Player. This will only occur if your Partner Player implementation has chapters with it.

Please check all implementations of the Partner Player on your website.

If you see extra space (see red box in image above) below your video you will need to change the height dimensions for your player. To accomplish this just go into the player's code you embedded on your site and subtract 40 pixels from the "height" dimensions.

The number you will need to subtract 40 from is bolded in the sample code below.

<iframe id="partnerPlayer" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" style="width:512px; height:328px;" src=""></iframe>

New Image Generator

A new feature you will notice in the COVE Admin Tool is highlighted here in red.
Because this new feature has many details to it I will cover it in a separate blog post early next week. Just know for now that this new feature is optional and is not required for you to successfully ingest your content into COVE.

Additional performance improvements and general bug fixes were also made for this release.

Please let your program manager know if you have any questions or experience any issues with this new release.

-Dan Haggerty

Mobile Strategy

PBSi has received numerous inquires lately about producers wanting to build iPhone applications. We are truly excited about the enthusiasm around innovation and willingness to experiment with a new platform.

The PBS Kids team is leading the way in this space, launching five acclaimed applications in the last six months. We are now turning our attention to opportunities with general audience content and are currently working with key producer and station representatives to outline a PBS mobile strategy.

In addition to the strategy work underway, PBSi is also developing a library of modules that will help in the development of mobile applications, such as a mobile-ready version of the TV schedule data and a new spec for COVE video. And, we are conducting extensive research to ensure that we can meet the market expectations for all of our app offerings.

In the meantime, PBS is limited in the number of mobile apps that we can support.  Because of that, we must be highly selectively in the near term about the kinds of apps we publish under the PBS mobile store. If you have an idea for an application, please send it to your program manager so that it can be vetted by our product development team.

If you have any questions about this approach, please contact your PP&S program manager. And stay tuned for more information about the PBS mobile strategy.

Thanks to those of you who joined the Social Media Analytics webinar. As promised, we are making the templated dashboard and presentation available for you to use.

Don't forget to send us your feedback on the dashboard, either by leaving comments here on the blog or by contacting me ( or Amy Sample (

Over the last year and a half, PBS Engage has been proud to offer you an easy to use and customizable commenting tool for your websites. We also understand that there are alternatives available, including commenting built into your CMS of choice to power conversation on your web site.

Based on producer and station feedback, we began looking at how to improve the tool. In looking at the requests, and beginning to plan how to build upon the Comments Engine we also began to vet several 3rd party solutions that had begun to build up market-share.

After weighing the pros and cons of a buy versus build solution, we opted to move forward with a new platform called Disqus. We are committed to this solution for at least two years. 

The advantages of Disqus include:

  • Pre-made plugins and modules for a wide-variety of content management systems 
  • Integration with social sites like Facebook and Twitter 
  • Email notifications for users when someone replies to their comments 
  • Additional widgets available for your site (such as "Most recent comments" and "Most popular comments") 
  • An API to build your own custom interface 
  • Easy to use moderation controls that can live within your existing CMS admin.

The Disqus service is currently being piloted with several producers and will be widely available next month.  You can see a sample implementation of this new platform at The Buddha, and on PBS Teachers’ Media Infusion blog.

You can also learn more about Disqus on Producer Exchange at

The PP&S team and folks from the Disqus team will be hosting a webinar on April 14th (click here to signup)to introduce you to this new platform, and will be standing-by to help with integration and implementation of the new tool. We will also discuss best practices around retiring the current PBS Comments engine.

Visit the Comments Engine Transition page for more information. To get started on this new platform, please contact your Program Manager.


Welcome! We’re excited to launch the latest version of Producer Exchange – a collaborative resource for producers.

This is a major update building on the success of the Exchange blog. New Exchange features include:

Exchange is launching in tandem with our new PBS Product Documentation space, where we aggregate detailed implementation, user and style guides for the products presented in Exchange. While Exchange is open to the general public, Product Documentation is accessible only with a login available from your program manager.

Producer Exchange is in beta, so you’ll see some bugs along the way. We’ll continue to improve the site and add new features along the way – so let us know your feedback and what you’d like to see next!

The Producer Products and Services team is seeking a talented and motivated student to work in a fun and fast-paced Interactive department. We welcome any candidates that you may be aware of.

In addition to the opportunity to gain a broad awareness of the public broadcasting system and exposure to television and Web industry professionals, the internship will:

  An understanding of how the digital landscape is affecting the wider media industry;

  • Increased Web production skills;
  • Exposure to editorial decision-making in a high-quality, new media environment;
  • An understanding of digital marketing and promotion;
  • Working knowledge of search engine optimization;
  • Understanding of the challenges in the management of digital assets.

 To see the full posting, and submit an application, visit the PBS Jobs Database.

  File Modified
JPEG File Backyard-Grilling.jpg Jun 23, 2011 by Matt Schoch
JPEG File Backyard-Grulling_unsat.jpg Jun 23, 2011 by Matt Schoch

Analytics! Measurement! Social Media! We've all been talking about how to measure impact and influence in social media for a while now. After months of work, Amy Sample, Director of Analytics, and Victor Acquah (Blue Analytics) are ready to present a dashboard for you to use. You'll see what metrics you can use to measure progress towards your audience engagement goals. I hope you'll tune in and learn more about what we've been working on.

Title: Social Media Analytics: How to Measure Audience Engagement

Date: Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Time: 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM EDT

Amy Sample, Director of Analytics, has been working with Victor Acquah (Blue Analytics) on a dashboard to track social media analytics. They'll show you a version of this tool that helped PBS Engage measure its impact and progress towards our engagement goals. You'll also see a sample dashboard and tips on how to use quantitative data to measure your social media impact and levels of engagement.

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.


In an effort to provide a more concrete process around COVE content publishing issues your PP&S team is implementing a new feature that allows you to request publishing assistance through JIRA.

Beginning today if you have any problems publishing content to COVE you should file a video-specific JIRA ticket. COVE publishing issues should no longer be directed to your PBS Online Video Team contact (Jasmin Bulin, Cameron Nordholm, Eric Freeland, Taryn Stewart or Dan Haggerty).

When you file a video-specific JIRA ticket it will automatically be sent to both the PBS Online Video Team and your program manager. The PBS Online Video Team will then work with you and your program manager through JIRA to resolve the publishing issue

Some examples of COVE publishing issues you might use this feature for are:

  • Problems changing images
  • Problems changing video files
  • Problems ingesting video

 How to file a Video JIRA ticket

Your JIRA account has been customized to allow you to create video-specific JIRA tickets. Here is the process you follow to generate those tickets.

  1. Log into JIRA
  2. Click the arrow drop-down button to the right of the “Issues” in the main navigation across the top of the page.
  3. Click the “Create Issue” link from the drop-down box that appears.
  4. Select “Producer Issue” from the “Issue Type” drop-down box and click “Next”
  5. Fill out the proposed Due Date + Time field.
    • The PBS video team will either respond to the ticket by this time, or follow up with a message to the producer within 48 hours that proposes a new due date.
  6. In the “Component/s” field select “Video”
    • This option assigns the ticket to the Video team. The Video team handles all publishing issues in the PBS Video portal.
  7. Fill out the rest of the form as you would normally
  8. Click “Create” to submit the ticket
    • When you create the JIRA ticket a message is immediately sent to your program manager and the PBS Online Video Team. 
    • If you have any further details, questions, or to follow up on that issue, include them in the ticket by using the “Comment” link along the left-hand side of that JIRA ticket. This way there is a record of all activity with that issue.

Once the issue has been resolved, the PBS Online Video Team will “Resolve” the ticket, changing its status to “Ready to Test” and assign it back to you to make sure that everything meets your needs. For more details on how to follow up and resolve a JIRA ticket please refer to the following section of the JIRA Producer Issue Tracking User Guide:


  • A good thing to remember is for any addition or change made to a JIRA ticket your program manager and video representative receive an immediate email notification.
  • Producers that do not have their own JIRA account should file a request through their PP&S program manager.
  • All other COVE related questions around policy, strategy and best practices should now also be directed to your PP&S program manager.

We look forward to implementing this new process with you and welcome any suggestions you have for how it may better serve your needs.  

Many PBS producers have told us they could really use a COVE-powered playlist-player. And we’ve heard those requests loud and clear.

That is why we wanted to take advantage of a rare opportunity to review a prototype version of this player that has been deployed on the new PBS micro-site for the South-by-Southwest festival. While this player is not available to producers it does present a great opportunity to look at a working tool and provide some early feedback.

The prototype playlist-player can be found here:

Please take a few minutes to look at this player and let your PP&S program manager know what you think. The more specific you can be in your feedback the better. We’d like to know:

  • What features you like
  • What features you see missing
  • What features are the most important to you
  • Questions you have about how it would work
  • How you would use this product

The more we know about your needs the more effective we can be in our advocacy during the development of this product.

 We look forward to hearing from you.

On February 25, 2010 PBS hosted a webinar all about live web events: Live chats, Twitter parties, and more! I presented lessons learned from the Live Chat Series, Tanner Vea (Thirteen) presented tips from NATURE's Cover It Live chats, and Amy Baroch showed us how to throw a Twitter party. We offer three case studies for engaging audiences through live web events.

Attached you'll find all three of our presentations and an audio recording of the hour-long webinar. I couldn't get the video to work so I only have audio to offer this time. I hope to get it fixed before the next webinar: Measuring Social Media Engagement. Stay tuned for more details about that this week.

I know this is a warning we hear often, but we're seeing many Twitter accounts being hacked lately.  Please be careful with your passwords and reset them on a regular basis. If your program or station account is compromised, just reset the password and be sure to send a tweet to your followers that acknowledges the spammy DMs they received. These things happen, but it's a courteous and positive thing to let your followers know you feel bad and have remedied the situation. 

COVE Release 18.0

Below are the new features and fixes implemented for Release 18.0 of COVE. This release went out on February 3, 2010.

Refresh Cache Feature

Tired of waiting for to see your new content or changes show up in the PBS Video portal? Well wait no more. We have now implemented a new feature that allows you to instantly refresh the cache of a specific page.  

PBS Video portal webpages are cached to optimize site performance. While this makes things smoother for the user it can mean you may have to wait up to an hour to see your work show up.  Here is the process you can now follow to instantly refresh the cache on a specific page and avoid that wait.

  1. Ingest new content or make changes to existing content as you normally would through the COVE Admin Tool.
  2. Using your web browser, navigate to the page you would like to see reflect those changes.
  3. At the end of the URL in your browser’s toolbar add the following text: /?refreshcache   (only use the “/” if there isn’t already one at the end of the URL)
  4. Load the new URL. (Hit the Enter/Return key)
  5. Once the page has completely loaded repeat step 4 another three times.  There are several layers to a page that need to be refreshed.

It is recommended that you only use this new tool when necessary. Caching a page makes it load quickly for your users. When that cache is refreshed though it needs to be rebuilt so new visitors to that page may experience some initial slowness.

A note of caution with using the refreshcache feature: There are many caches for a page in the PBS Video portal so you may have to use this feature several times before you see your update. This feature is intended to be more of a QA tool than anything. It should only be used to get an early look at how your content will show up in the portal and ensure everything is correct.

Timecode in Timeline

The user can now see the current timecode in the video player controls. (See image below).

Other Bug Fixes

Here are the other major bugs for this release.

  1. Share URL displays properly when using Share menu of video player
  2. Share by Email link works properly
  3. Partner Player: clicking suggested videos in end-screen now opens new window.
  4. The Validate URL button in the COVE Admin Tool now functions properly
  5. Clicking on thumbnails on suggested videos will open those videos
  6. Chapters will play correctly when clicked on in the video player’s end screen
  7. Closed Captioning font was changed from Arial to Verdana for better legibility.
  8. Duplicate episodes should not appear in the Video Portal.

Please feel free to contact your program manager if you have any questions about these new features

PBS just announced a video contest in which users show what is innovative and awesome about PBS… in the form of a funny 30-second video. Maybe it’s a photo contest on your site. Maybe it’s great web-only video series you’ve created. Maybe it’s access to an expert related to a show. Either way, I think you’ll agree with me that you have been innovating and engaging audiences in new ways around the stellar PBS content.

I invite you all to spread the word to your fans and encourage them to submit videos about all the great things PBS is doing. More information about the contest is on the Inside PBS blog and on the contest page at

To learn more about video contests in general, check out Amy Baroch's blog post on Station Remote Control:

Always wanted to develop a mobile application that promotes learning?  Here’s your chance!

Startl, a new enterprise dedicated to bringing digital learning innovations to the market, recently announced its first ever Mobile Learning Design Boost.  Developed in conjunction with IDEO, the Startl Boost is a 5-day bootcamp for prototyping digital learning products.  The event will be held at the Pratt Institute in New York City, March 15-19, 2010 and participation is free of charge (participants are responsible for covering their own travel and lodging expenses).  For more details, visit: