Thursday, September 29, 2011

New version of Pipeline

Fall is the season of change and Pipeline is no exception! It's been a busy couple of months. Our first round of beta testing on Newgrounds produced a huge batch of great ideas and feedback. Since July, we've been working on integrating that feedback into Pipeline. The new version is now available for testing and we believe it's the best one yet!

The new Pipeline is quite a bit different from the last version. Here are just a few of the biggest changes:

* Pipeline is now a platform, not just one website. Previously, Pipeline was a single website where people started and worked on projects. We broadened that idea, because different kinds of projects attract different communities with specialized needs. Now, anyone will be able to download the Pipeline source code and set up a customized instance on their own server. In other words, now anyone can have a Pipeline. We will still host a Pipeline instance for demo purposes (check it out here), and a few more for research/testing purposes.

* Pipeline has a brand new visual design. It's cleaner and makes better use of screen real estate, especially for folks with widescreen monitors, which are increasingly common.We've also moved color-based CSS out of the main stylesheet, which means it's really easy to customize the colors of each Pipeline. We now have two out-of-the-box styles, a dark version (default) and a light version.

* Pipeline has a new code base from the ground up. Pipeline evolved so much from its original conception that the old architecture just wasn't cutting it anymore. We took the opportunity this summer to rethink the basic site architecture in terms of our latest ideas and user feedback on what Pipeline should be. Most users won't notice these changes, though lots of bugs will be fixed, performance might be faster, and improvements should come more quickly. Developers, however, will appreciate how much more sense everything makes, and that's crucial for an open source project.

* Pipeline has a new workflow. The old Pipeline was based around concepts like "scenes", "submissions", and "versions", which were unfamiliar and confusing to many users. With this new version, we redefined the workflow around something more straightforward and familiar: tasks. Trusted users now create tasks, which any logged-in user can join. Once joined, users can post contributions (files, updates, etc.) and edit their status (in progress, seeking feedback, completed, etc.) Both tasks and contributions can receive feedback from anyone with an account.

* Pipeline has comprehensive support for multimedia files. Previously Pipeline had inconsistent support for media uploads: for example, you could stream video but you couldn't see thumbnails for uploaded images. The new version of Pipeline fills in these gaps and expands them. Now you can upload video, audio, images, or Flash animation. Pipeline will handle the rest: generating thumbnails (if applicable), rendering streaming versions, and providing in-browser playback support via the open source flowPlayer.

We hope you find these changes as exciting as we do!