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Sprint 39 - November 15, 2013


Remember the 15th of November, when the Avalon team completed over 50 points in a single sprint? This sprint finally got us moving towards new features for Avalon 3.0. A big priority is master file management; we were able to make some big strides in making sure the system can move, leave in place, or delete master files. Our next sprint will focus on making Avalon aware of where files and derivatives are being stored.  


Another successfully completed story was the first pass at uploading previously transcoded files. Web uploads and batches now have an option to skip transcoding! We still need to go back to allow skip transcoding for items uploaded in the Avalon dropbox.  


Beyond those new features, we cleaned up the media player, especially on iPhones and iPads. It is looking pretty slick! We've added nice big buttons for touch screens.  


Watch the full recording of this week's demo.   

  • VoV-725 – Master file management – Chris/Phuong
  • VoV-2186 – Audio player issues – Phuong
  • VoV-2103 – Quality stream selector on iPhone - Phuong
  • VoV-2185 – Longer duration display cutoff - Phuong
  • VoV-2108 – Push button automated release process - Michael/Chris
  • VoV-2143 – Uploading previously transcoded derivatives - Adam
  • VoV-2159 – Learning about LTIs - Team
  • VoV-2102 – Benchmarking processing time for NU pilot - Stefan
  • VoV-2076 – NU pilot system migrated to Avalon 2.0 - Michael
  • Review of stories – Team led by Andrea

You can also watch the demos for past Sprints or learn more about our development process.

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Avalon 2.0 Webinar Recording


Our November 14 webinar was superb! With zero technical glitches and great questions and feedback, we felt it was a success. Jon Dunn (Project Director, IU), Mark Notess (Product Owner, IU), and Julie Rudder (Product Owner, NU) led the webinar.


If you were unable to attend, don't fret. The webinar recording and slides can be viewed at your leisure.


If you choose to view the webinar, please fill out our short survey about your experience with Avalon and share your ideas about future features/integrations. We would be grateful for the feedback! 


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Sprint 38 - November 1, 2013


This week was all about refinement. We started work on refining a new skin for the MediaElement.js player so that the player has nice sizable buttons that are optimized for both desktop and touch browsers. We refined and finished testing our migration tools and documentation for the various installation methods, so if you installed Avalon 1.0 you should be only six steps away from using Avalon 2.0!  We also started on one of our big priority stories for Avalon 3.0, which is to skip the transcoding step for media that has already been processed.


Getting our installation and migration methods ready for Avalon 2.0 slowed down our release cycle - we spent too many sprints on getting a relatively painless installation method ready. While the experience was fresh in our minds, the team started the sometimes painful work of creating a push–button automated release process that will result in faster, more efficient releases. 


Northwestern has been working on getting their pilot system ready for the upgrade to Avalon 2.0 and while they are at it they are benchmarking some processing times of various video types.  Hopefully that information can be used to tweak our configuration and profile setting as we get closer to production systems after the release of Avalon 3.0. Overall, it was a busy, productive sprint.


Watch the full recording of this week's demo.


  • VoV-2105 – Plan for MediaElement.js collaboration

  • VoV-2100 – Improved skin for MediaElement.js player

  • VoV-1974 – Migration for portable ova install from 1.0 to 2.0

  • VoV-2107 – Migration for puppet install from 1.0 to 2.0

  • VoV-2078 – NU pilot system cloned

  • VoV-2102 – Benchmarking processing time for NU pilot

  • VoV-2108 – Push-button automated release process

  • VoV-2143 – Uploading previously transcoded derivatives

  • VoV-2141 – Derivatives not playing on pawpaw/pilot systems

  • VoV-2142 – Collection Guide "items/objects" clean up

  • Review of stories – Team led by Andrea


    You can also watch the demos for past Sprints or learn more about our development process.

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    Avalon 2.0 Webinar, November 14


    Please join us for an upcoming webinar for the Avalon Media System Project.


    Date: Thursday, November 14

    Time: 12:00-1:00 PM EST



    • overview of version 2.0 functionality and the download/tryout options

    • demo of version 2.0

    • summary of recent Avalon partner meeting

    • roadmap and schedule for planned future releases

    • questions and feedback from participants


    To register, please fill out the registration form:


    We're looking forward to talking with you about Avalon. We will record the webinar for later viewing by those unable to join us.



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    Sprint 37 - October 18, 2013


    With Avalon 2.0 ready for public consumption, the team spent this sprint working on documenting our migration paths for the different installation methods. Our last two sprints have been devoted to setting up the distribution of our releases so we talked quite a bit about how to streamline the process so we can hit our releases more efficiently.  The team looked into our new media player, MediaElement.js, some more to figure out how to contribute new features and bug fixes. We have a plan!  


    We are looking for someone to test out our manual installation documentation. If you are planning on doing the manual install of Avalon 2.0, we would love to get some feedback from you! Please contact us.  


    Watch the full recording of this week's demo.

    • VoV-1874 – Installation using Vagrant VM is available and documented – Chris

    • VoV-1974 – Migration from ova VM Avalon 1.0 to Avalon 2.0 is documented and tested

    • VoV-2075 – IU's Pilot system is updated with Avalon 2.0

    • VoV-2094 – Administrator couldn't create collections

    • VoV-1631 – Quality Selector on iPhones – Phuong

    • VoV-1873 – Plans for working with MediaElement.js – Phuong

    • Review of stories – Team led by Andrea (0:31:06)

    You can also watch the demos for past Sprints or learn more about our development process.

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    Release 2.0 Now Available


    Release 2.0 of the Avalon Media System is now available. One goal of this release is to enable successful pilot implementations at partner institutions.


    The release includes the following features:

    • New hierarchical permissions model supports a flexible approach to collections-based content management. Collections can have default access controls.

    • Collections can more easily be shared with defined groups.

    • New media player is more usable and supports more platforms.

    • An about page shows the system health and supports automated system monitoring.

    • Staff can create custom thumbnails for video content by taking a "snapshot" during playback or by specifying a timepoint.

    • Tools are provided for migration of content and user groups from Avalon 1.0 to 2.0.

    There are several options for exploring release 2.0. You can try it out on our public test server. You can also download and install a preconfigured Avalon virtual machine image, perform a step-by-step installation, or find out how to download our source code from Github.


    If you plan to try out or download the newest version of Avalon and haven't already done so, please sign up for our email list, avalon-discuss-l, to get technical support or provide feedback. If you are not yet signed up for our main announcement email list, please sign up for avalon-l.


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    Partners Meeting Recap


    On October 2 and 3, the Avalon Media System team invited our partner institutions to come to lovely Bloomington, Indiana, for a meeting to discuss development priorities and future directions. Many of our partners were able to make it, but we also wanted to share what was discussed with the wider community and partners who were unable to attend.


    If you prefer not to go through the following photos to access the notes from the meeting, we've created a short and sweet version on our wiki.

    Wednesday, October 2


    Wednesday agenda:


    9:00 - Introductions, mention of interests/questions, desired outcomes of meeting (Jon) [NOTES]




    9:45  - Project update [Slides] (Jon) & demo (Mark) [NOTES] [AdobeConnect Recording]



    10:45 - Roadmap review (Mark) & priorities discussion (Claire)  [NOTES] [AdobeConnect Recording]


    12:00 - Lunch - Continue priorities discussion


    1:00 - Avalon and WGBH's HydraDAM, demo and discussion (Karen)  [NOTES]



    2:00 - Breakout session decisions



    2:30-4 - Breakout session 1


    Specific integrations / technical architecture [NOTES]


    Metadata: Technical & descriptive / Collections, units [NOTES]


    Variations and Avalon [NOTES]


    4:00 - Breakout groups report back


    6:30pm - Working dinner at Finch's


    Group 1 - Hydra DAM / Avalon collaboration



    Group 2 - Avalon product positioning  - where it fits in the landscape of media solutions



    Group 3 - Engaging the developer community and getting institutional commitment to continued development



    Thursday, October 3


    Thursday agenda:


    9:00 - Reports from last night's dinner discussions (30 min) (Stu)  [NOTES]



    9:30 - Review/modify today's agenda (15 min) (Jon)



    9:45 - Breakout session 2


    Pilot plans and implementations - support needs [NOTES]


    Structural metadata [NOTES]


    Product positioning, extension [NOTES]


    11:00 - Breakout session 3


    Authentication/authorization integrations  [NOTES]


    Technical deep dive/code hacking [NOTES]



    HydaDAM/Avalon feature/roadmap comparison [NOTES]


    12:00 - Lunch - Breakout groups report back


    1:00 - Post-grant sustainability and governance (Jon) [NOTES]


    2:00 - Wrap-up & next steps [NOTES]





    (mustache montage compliments of Avalon team member Julie Hardesty!)


    Friday, October 4


    Sprint planning/Evaluation of partner meeting  (IU/NU Avalon team only)



    Overall, we think the meeting was a great success.


    We got to meet the partners:



    And reunite the Indiana University and Northwestern University development teams:


    If you have any questions or comments about the Partners Meeting, feel free to contact us!

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    Get to Know the Avalon Team: Adam Hallett


    In our series Get to Know the Avalon Team, we're providing a closer look at the individuals who are working each day to develop the Avalon Media System.

    Adam Hallett

    Adam ia a programmer for the Avalon Media System. He graduated from Michigan State University in 2008 with a degree in Anthropology, after which he taught English to children in Yeosu, Korea.  In the past he has worked with early stage startups in areas such as solar energy and customer loyalty, and also at a voter non-profit. 


    Can you talk a bit about your role in the project?

    I work with product owners and other developers to design, build, and test much of the functionality you see when you use Avalon. Quite a bit of this work involves improving the durability and resilience of the software under many different use cases. We use special testing software that runs through different scenarios and ensures that a user action follows the appropriate steps to update the system.


    What is a typical work week like for you?

    I usually end up working on a mix of new functionality, bug fixes, and reviewing changes made by other developers.  Some of my time is spent participating in conference calls and reading industry news and blogs.


    What apps/software/gadgets can't you live without?

    I don’t have many gadgets but I’m a big fan of outsourcing tedious tasks with applications such as Mint, Credit Karma, Dropbox, Google Calendar, and Gmail.


    When you’re not working, what can you be found doing?

    Recently my car has had some problems and it’s my new hobby to fix them.  A few weeks ago I built a smoke machine with an air compressor, baby oil, and a car battery to test for leaks.  I then used software to command the car’s computer to seal the system and monitor the pressure. Troubleshooting the recent generation of cars requires connecting mechanical knowledge with computers and algorithms.


    Join us tomorrow via Adobe Connect


    As we mentioned in a recent post, we are having a meeting this week in Bloomington with most of the formal partners and advisors on the IMLS National Leadership Grant that is helping to support development of the Avalon Media System, to discuss development priorities and future directions.


    As part of this meeting, we are opening up our morning sessions on the first day of the meeting (tomorrow, Wednesday, October 2) to remote viewing/listening via Adobe Connect at

    The schedule is as follows (all times are EDT / GMT-4 on Wednesday, October 2):

    • 9:00-9:45 - Introductions & mention of interests/questions
    • 9:45-10:30  - Project update and demo
    • 10:45-12:00 - Roadmap review & priorities discussion


    We will not be able to support remote audio participation, but we would welcome your feedback and questions via the Chat window in Adobe Connect and via email to the avalon-discuss-l list.

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    Sprint 35 - September 20, 2013


    Who is at code release for Avalon 2.0?  We are! During our demo, the team decided that we had reached code release, which will allow the team to focus on updating methods for everyone to test out Avalon 2.0.  Bugs have been squashed, labeling has been updated and improved, and documentation is being written. A few of our bugs were fixed and pushed upstream to the Hydra Project--we are very pleased to contribute back to the community!


    We are hoping to announce the release of Avalon 2.0 very soon so keep your eyes on Twitter, Facebook, and this blog to hear when and where you can check out Avalon 2.0!


    Watch the full recording of this week's demo.

    • UI Improvements - Labeling (VoV 1970) - Nathan (0:00:00)
    • Role Tool Tips - (VoV 1972) - Nathan (0:00:28)
    • R2 Documentation (VoV 1878) – Nathan (0:01:21)
    • UI Improvements - My Collections page (VoV 1971) - Nathan (0:03:55)
    • Progress on getting to code freeze (VoV 1825)  – Chris/Adam/Phuong (0:07:22)
    • Progress on getting to Release (VoV 1826)  – Adam (0:21:21)
    • Review of stories – Team led by Steve (0:31:06)

    You can also watch the demos for past Sprints or learn more about our development process.

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