Evaluating Web Frameworks

Yesterday I talked about choosing one framework to use to build web applications. I decided that the best way to evaluate them was to build a simple application. Not long after I wrote that post, the perfect application basically fell in my lap. (Maybe it’s true that the universe delivers what you need when you need it…)

We have several people at the school district that create videos of everything from daily announcements to sporting events. Currently there’s no easy way for parents to see the videos unless they come to the school or someone burns them a DVD. What we need is an easy way to put them on the web.

In other words, something almost exactly like YouTube. Except it needs to run on our server so we can control what gets uploaded and who gets to see it. I did a little research and found some free programs to make building this a little easier.

First, I’ll need to convert the uploaded files to Flash video format. FFmpeg is a command line program to convert videos. I even found a few examples of other people running it on a web server. The other piece I need is a Flash video player. A nice guy named Jeroen Wijering makes a free for noncommercial use FLV player called JW FLV Player.

So that’s my plan, a simple two or three page web application where people can upload videos (in a variety of formats). The server will convert the video to FLV and update a searchable list. Finally, I’ll use JW FLV Player to make them viewable on the web. The whole thing will also need to be password protected.

Over the next few days I’ll be building this application in Perl, PHP, Ruby, and Python. After that, I should have a really good idea about which framework works best for me. And then I can finally move on to bigger and better applications.