Getting Started With Splashcast on WordPress.com
What is Splashcast?
SplashCast enables anyone to create streaming media ‘channels’ that combine video, music, photos, narration, text and RSS feeds. These user-generated channels can be played and easily syndicated on any web site, blog, or social network page. When channel owners modify their channel, their content is automatically updated across all the web pages ‘tuned’ to that channel.
Say the what now?
Splashcast lets you create embedded multimedia that you can stick on any webpage that support embedding flash videos. It offers direct integration with Flickr and Youtube. Other people can subscribe to your splashcast and you can host this single splashcast on multiple sites.
What came as a pleasant surprise was seeing that they’ve been working behind the scenes with the guys at WordPress.com — so if you’re running a WordPress.com blog then you already have the ability to use it.
(Hint: more companies should make sure their widgets work with all the major blogging platforms before launch. Good job Splashcast.)
But why would I want to use this?
Always a good question when it comes to web widgets. Splashcast lets you create a dynamic multimedia channel that you can publish in different places. You could use it to
- create a scrapbook of videos/photos for sharing with family members,
- create a random slideshow from your flickr stream,
- create a screencast of how to do something,
- create a presentation,
- highlight your best blog posts,
- or create a channel for a web comic
My first attempt at splashcasting is the latter. How would you use Splashcast?
My First Splashcast
It was very easy to create. The only issue I ran into is how do I post it on my WordPress.com blog? WordPress adds additional mark-up to make it easier to embed supported flash players, but for all that Splashcast was suggesting I host a free blog on WordPress.com, they didn’t provide me WordPress.com specific code for embedding the player.
The important part in that text is the player_code.
<embed src="http://web.splashcast.net/p/" quality="high" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" FlashVars="player_code=CPAH1932FC" wmode="transparent" width="400" height="300" name="player" align="middle" allowScriptAccess="never" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer"> </embed>
I did find the code later on by going to edit the channel and view the channel info. They support specific codes for Page Flakes as well. The format is simple, it is
[ splashcast PLAYER_CODE]
IE: [ splashcast CPAH1932FC]
…but without the spaces in front of splashcast.
RSS Readers click here to see the Splashcast
It would be nice if they gave a unique URL for the splashcast the way Youtube does. Those are really handy for linking in RSS, bookmarking and sending by email. I wouldn’t be surprised if they already do, but it wasn’t immediately obvious.
Room for Improvement
I have a few issues with Splashcasts that hopefully they’ll improve over time
- Too many pop-ups — every modern browser has a pop-up blocker and this creates a headache.
- At the very least have an intro in the beginning asking people to allow pop-ups for the site and showing them how to.
- Why is there no option to automatically repeat the splashcast?
- Since autoplay is an option, you’d think you could repeat to have an automatic slideshow.
- When adding photos, I could not associate a link with them.
- When adding text, there was no option to add thumbnail images as well.
- Justification is for the entire text page, not the selected text only.
- Manipulating text size/colour/background colour is error prone and did not always save properly.
- Adding unwanted whitespace in the text.
- Even though the text fit on the screen when editing, it ran off the screen when using scrollbars.
I’m not sure if Splashcast is still in beta or not, but you can try signing up for an account here.
In the future you’ll probably be seeing a Splashcast permanently in the bottom bar of my blog showing off my best posts.