The Open Source Media Framework has seen the release of it’s first stable version. The OSMF is a framework for creating interactive video players for Adobe Flash Player.
Most video players on the internet have pretty much the same requirement, which is, to play video, and display a simple interface using which the end-user can control this playback. The YouTube player for example provides simple controls to allow one to play / pause video, expand the size of the video, change the volume level, scrub to any point in the video, go full-screen and change the quality of the video stream. Nearly any player would have the same requirements.
With the OSMF, one can build their own player on a solid open source core which supports many features such as, live streaming with DVR, meta-data, RTMP streaming, dynamic bit-rate streaming, DRM, buffer management, cue-points, layout APIs, etc. Most importantly, it allows for plug-ins. Yes, plug-ins! Plug-ins for a video framework which is running in an application which is running in the web browser plug-in in the first place.
Some features such as annotations, captions, advertisement etc are more specific to the kind of use a video sharing website such as YouTube requires. Other websites might have other needs. For this purpose OSMF plug-ins are a great feature. With plug-ins one can add support for analytics, captions, advertisements, feeds etc. These plug-ins can either be built into your player based on OSMF, or even loaded dynamically from a URL.
While it is possible to have all this without needing to use the OSMF, Adobe has invested in this open source project since it is not a trivial task to create a fully functional media player. By using OSMF, which has all of the important features ready to use. Adobe has created a player of their own, called Strobe Media Playback which is still in pre-release. While the OSMF is just a framework which you can use to build a feature rich player, Strobe Media Playback is a player itself. It is a swf file which can be loaded on your server and included on any page which needs to play back video.
Currently though, the OSMF is just ActionScript 3 code which needs to be used by a developer to create their own player, and it is not integrated with their Flex framework, nor is there any way to use it in Flash Professional. Even the latest Adobe’s Flash Professional CS5 does not include a graphical tool for creating OSMF-based players. Flash Professional CS5 does however include a FLVPlayback component which allows designers using Flash to graphically create a video player. However eventually Adobe will add the functionality to create OSMF-based video players using Flash Professional CS5 using the GUI.
A third-party KickApps has however created a graphical wizard-based online application called App Studio for building OSMF players with plug-in support. Their UI lets one select a basic style and functionality for their player, add plug-ins, and then drops you to a graphical design environment where you can design your player in detail.
For end-users OSMF means for functional players which provide better features, and for developers it is a good starting point to create the same. This is not the end for OSMF, and development will continue onwards with community support.