Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

General Questions

While hypertext systems like the World-Wide-Web evolved out of a certain community, the origins of hypervideo systems are difficult to name and depend on incoherent definitions. As a result, particularly web-based implementations are entitled “hypervideos” because they consist of some kind of interactive film. Even though some existing applications fit partly into the different hypervideo definitions, most of them do not go beyond transferring the simplified concept of web hypertext to film. With FrameTrail, we aim to create a hypervideo environment that provides a filmic answer to functional intertextuality in the form of hyperlinked, non-linear video fragments. We are not there yet, but by using the term, we want to explicitly set foot on that path.
Read more on the History and Definition of the hypervideo concept.
There are many great applications and frameworks which enable you to do similar or even more sophisticated things (PopcornJS, Popcorn Editor and the discontinued Popcorn Maker application, Korsakov or Klynt, just to name a few).
We do very much respect their efforts and encourage you to use these tools, but FrameTrail was built around a different set of goals and principles. We thoroughly thought about using the PopcornJS Library and some of its plugins at least as a basis for synchronization, but decided to go with a custom implementation which incorporates the simple module, type and state architecture of FrameTrail.
"Frames" are the most basic components of film (moving images). A "Trail" is in this context the path these frames take when composed to a film sequence (a "trail of single frames" if you wish). The term stems from Vannevar Bushs groundbreaking essay "As We May Think" (1945) and his description of associative trails in the "memex" concept (which laid the foundation for all future hypertext systems, including the World-Wide-Web).
By choosing this name, we want to pay tribute to the original hypertext ideas (which contained many great concepts from which only the simplest made it into the WWW) and set the longterm goal to re-invent some of them for film-based hypermedia.

Using FrameTrail

FrameTrail has been developed as a simple tool requiring only little knowledge and effort to set up and extend. On the contrary, you as a user have to take care of web-ready data formats and a suitable technical environment (i.e. small images, correctly encoded video files and a modern browser). If you think you did everything right and still experience problems, please inform us of bugs or any other issues you have.
You most likely added many webpage resources. While there is generally no limit, please keep in mind that every webpage you add as annotation or overlay needs to be fully loaded in the browser. So if you add 30 webpage resources to your hypervideo, this is similar to opening 30 websites at once in one browser window.
Some websites need more browser performance than others. Under extreme circumstances, a single website can be enough to crash the entire application. As we obviously don't have control over external webpages, just check if it get's better when you remove certain webpage resources from the hypervideo.
For video playback, we rely on the "HTML5" video standard, which enables you to play and control video directly in the browser without needing plugins (like Flash Player or Silverlight).
Unfortunately, there is no single format that works in all browsers, so you need to encode your videos into "WebM" and "MP4" to allow everyone to access your projects (see next question).
Converting your video file into the two required formats is fortunately very easy. Just get Miro Video Converter, drag your files into the application and covert them once to "WebM" and once to "MP4". In the FrameTrail upload interface you will also see a size limitation (depending on the server you are using). If your converted files are still too big, just play with the settings in Miro to try and get them smaller.
You can use files with the ending: "jpg", "jpeg", "gif" and "png". In order to make your images "web-ready" (small filesize), please check out this great tutorial: HOW TO - Make Your Images Web-Ready.
For the subtitles, you have to use files in the "WebVTT" (.vtt) format. We might integrate parsers for other formats (like SRT) in the future, but for the moment you have to use this format or convert your existing SRT files to WebVTT.
There are a number of simple converters:
FrameTrail is a web application. This means you can only work with files which are "web-ready". Please stick with the formats offered within the upload interface. PDF documents are a somewhat special case: You could add them by providing a URL to the file, but as some browsers don't display all PDFs within the page, it's possible that you get a file download dialog when opening the resource.
Did you login with the right credentials, but an error message says: "User not known"?
Please keep in mind that every project has a separate user base and resource archive. This means that users always need to register per project. An account in one project doesn't exist in the other projects.

Did you login with the right credentials, but a warning message says: "User is not active. Please contact an admin!"?
This means that you have successfully been registered, but a security setting requires that your account is activated by a project administrator before you can actually login.
You can't (unless you are the administrator who can access the "Project Manager"). This is on purpose. Projects are used in FrameTrail to set up completely independent instances with their own users, resources and hypervideos. They all use the same applications, system settings and master password, but are rather provided as a means to "install" multiple FrameTrail environments without having to actually install FrameTrail several times.
Hypervideos are managed by their authors, thus a normal user can only "annotate" them but cannot change Overlays or Video Links. By forking a hypervideo, you create a copy for yourself that you completely own and are fully able to edit. As a reference is still kept to the "origin", forking is more than just copying or cloning. The term stems from open source software development.
We are working on this functionality. The plan is to provide you with the means to export a standalone version of a single Hypervideo or even an entire Project, which doesn't require a server to be accessed and can be imported again at any time into the application.
For the moment, you can export / share FrameTrail Projects by just copying the "/_data" folder and pasting it into another FrameTrail instance. Everything, including the user accounts and project settings will be included in that folder.

Technical Questions

One single instance. We want to include the web into hyperlinked film and not vice versa, thus one FrameTrail instance is the basis for your hypervideo document (same as you only have one "document", "window" and "body" element in an HTML document).
FrameTrail has been built with the aim to include users with very basic programming skills in the process of extending and remixing the application. Setting up tools like "Grunt", "bower" etc. is not just hard for some beginners, using them also results in two different code bases (source and build), which, even if you don't minify any code, introduces the concept of code compilation to web applications. We know these concepts are very useful for large scale web development, but think they are an unnecessary overkill for a tool like FrameTrail.
We are however thinking of integrating a CSS pre-processor to make style adjustments more easy.
To keep down the server requirements and administrative knowledge required to install FrameTrail. But we are thinking of integrating respective tools and libraries as extra modules, which you may or may not use based on your skills.

What if my question is not answered here?

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