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A screenshot tour of the new Channel 9

Dearest Niners,

After a little bit of blood, sweat, and tears, we’re happy to give you the first taste of the new Channel 9 (codenamed: Revolution 9 or “Rev9” for short) that we first mentioned over a year ago

Overview

Revolution 9 has four key themes:

  1. Improve the user experience – For this, we “borrowed” Nishant Kothary, our design guru, as well as Nick Finck, Kevin Tamura and others at Blue Flavor and Matt Brown from Things that are Brown to build our site design. Here’s Nishant in his own words on the Revolution 9 user experience:

    “If you cull any redesign endeavor down to its bare essence, you are left with a simple question — How will this improve the user’s experience?  This question is the natural and the right starting point for pretty much every redesign project.  Unfortunately, it quickly gets lost in the noise of people, process and politics.

    What makes the Channel 9 redesign so unique is that the question truly did remain at the forefront through the entire process.  And it helped us stay true to our overarching redesign credo—the new Channel 9 needs to be clean, clutter-free and visually put the focus back on content.  From a rock-solid information architecture to the extremely clean and high-contrast color palette and typographic grid, the new design attempts to put the focus back on what’s most important about Channel 9—the content. Oh, and we gave the Nine guy a little facelift while we were at it Smile.“

  2. Improve quality, reliability, and performance – We’ve been getting this feedback for a while now and Revolution 9 was a good time to take a step back and make sure that we have the right architecture, process, and instrumentation in place to measurably improve this. Here a just some of the improvements coming with Rev 9 that will improve quality, reliability, and performance: Moving to Azure as our hosting platform, 1,300+ unit tests for production code, using memcache for caching, and the instrumentation we’ve added to monitor real-time usage.
  3. Improve discoverability of content and site features – One of the key pieces of feedback we had in our user survey was that niners couldn’t find content on the site and there was no easy way of browsing content. With Revolution 9, we’ve added the Browse page (full details below) that lets you search and filter by tag, show, author and more. We’ve also improved the discoverability of features like ratings and download links.
  4. Improve the experience for content creators on Channel 9 – While our primary audience is viewers of Channel 9 videos, another important customer of Channel 9 are the people who create content. With Rev 9, we've added some key features for content creators, like the ability to schedule the time a video is published, the ability to set content as “obsolete” so that customers don’t waste time trying to get a Beta 1 demo to work on the RTM version of a product, or the ability to add custom time-codes to a URL so that you can jump to any point in time in a video.

 

Show me some pictures
Now that you have an idea on the motivations behind this release; let’s look at some screenshots of the new pages and features!

The Home page
Here’s a quick before and after view of the home page

image[3]

Let's dissect the new home page so you can better understand what's going on here.

 

Rotating "catbird" video 
This rotates through three videos. You can watch a video on the home page and jump to the video detail page and we’ll remember the spot in the video where you were last watching the video. Also notice that the video player is larger and is also designed for a widescreen (16:9) format.

image

 

Easily see what’s new on Channel 9 
Similar to YouTube, you can now easily find what’s new on the site by using the filters at the top – the most recent, the most viewed, or the top rated videos for the last seven days.

image

Cool Stuff 
Like its name implies, the Cool Stuff section of the homepage is where we showcase fun and cool stuff related to Microsoft. The bulk of this content comes from Channel 10’s Sarah Perez who has a great eye for finding interesting tidbits on the Web.

image 

Community Activity
The Community Activity area lets you get a pulse for what’s happening on Channel 9 – how many users are online, how many comments or discussions are on-going, etc. It's like a dashboard of what's going on.

image

Browse Page
The Browse page is new to Channel 9. It's designed to help you navigate and discover our large library of video content on the site.  As you can see below, you can filter content both on the top and on the left hand pane. 

image

Tabbed Filters
All across Revolution 9, we've added tabbed filters based on the type of data that you're looking at. For example, on the browse page, you can search all content for the most recent, most viewed or top rated content. For the most viewed and top rated content, you can, similar to YouTube, add an additional filter to see the most viewed videos this week (the last 7 days), this month, or of all time.
Tabbed filters

Content by Author
The authors browse page is unique in that unlike the list of videos, this view gives you an alphabetical list of content contributors to Channel 9 using their profile picture. 

image

Tag Cleanup and Tag Pages
The tagging system on the current Channel 9 allowed any content contributor to build tags. Over time, and with many more contributors, what's happened is that we've amassed a huge number of tags such that the number of tags is overwhelming, the way we tag videos is inconsistent, some are pointless (ex: video and videos tags) and some tags are just variations on the exact same thing (ex: PDC, PDC TalkPDC 2008, PDC+2008, PDC08). We can clearly do better. For the final release of Revolution 9, we're going to go through and clean up all of our tags and make sure content creators are tagging content consistently. Further we're going to only allow site admins to create new tags so we don't run into this problem every year or so. With our tags now cleaned up, you'll be able to go to a tag page, like the Windows Azure tag page below and filter just videos Azure videos by most recent, most viewed and top rated. Just like the browse page, you can further filter the results by week, month, and all time.

image

Shows and Series Pages
As the number of content contributors has grown, so have the types of content where we wanted to formalize how we think about them. 
 - A show is typically a regularly scheduled (ex: weekly) video that doesn't really have an end date. Show videos can stand on their own in that one show doesn't build on another, meaning if you missed last week's episode, you can see this week's episode and it should still make sense. Silverlight TV and Ping are good examples of Channel 9 shows.
 - A series is a finite list of videos on a particular topic. Unlike a show, videos in a series are interrelated and each video in a series typically builds on each other. A good example of a series would be Erik Meijer's 13-part lecture series on functional programming or the History of Microsoft series.  

Here's the before and after of our show pages:
before and after show page 

Diving into the new show page, you'll notice the large banner for custom images, the area for authors of a show, and, like other pages on Rev 9, you can sort the list of shows here as well.

image
 

Bing Search
We've improved upon the built-in Bing search integration currently on Channel 9 so that you filter by content type, including blogs, shows, series, and forum threads.

Bing Search 

Pinnable full-screen videos
Revolution 9 uses Silverlight 4 for the video player and we've updated our player to use one of my favorite features, pinnable windows. This feature lets you see a video on one monitor full screen while working on another monitor. To use this feature, simply click the full screen button shown below.

image

Anonymous commenting on videos
For users without a Channel 9 account, we've added the ability to comment on a video without needing to create a Channel 9 account. This only applies for videos though as you'll still need a Channel 9 account to comment on the forums or to rate content.

anonymous commenting

The New Ratings System
We’ve changed the ratings system from a thumbs up/thumbs down system to a five-star ratings system. It’s also much more prominent, both on the page and in any list of videos we have across the site (see below).  To calculate the ratings for existing videos, we are making thumbs down votes be a rating of “1” and a thumbs up rating be a “5”. Like the previous rating system, you must be logged in to rate content. Our future goal is to be able to use your ratings to suggest videos that you might like, similar to the way that viewing and rating products on Amazon.com or videos on Netflix.com can then suggest content that you might enjoy.

image

Improving the discoverability of downloads
To help improve the discoverability of our video downloads, we've replaced the dropdown menu with three key video formats. Instead of a small line of text dropdown box, the list of video downloads is much larger and right next to the video player. [Hopefully] you can't miss it Smiley

image

Better integration with iTunes and Zune

We’ve always had RSS feeds with MP4 and Zune (WMV) formatted enclosures but getting that content into the Zune or iTunes software wasn’t as easy as it could be. In Rev9 we’ve added direct links (like this and this) that will take you right to a page where you can subscribe to a show, series or blog in either iTunes or Zune. 

iTunes integration

Improved user profiles
We've also improved user profiles for both contributors and niners. For niners like Bas, you'll see tabs for discussions and comments as shown below.user profile

 


Channel 9 Forums
To help improve the discoverability of our site feedback and Tech Off forum, clicking on forums from the top navigation takes you to the list of forums pictured below. This should hopefully improve the signal-to-noise ratio so that the right content is posted in the right forum.  

image 

Forum features
Instead of radically changing how the forums worked, we worked on addressing some of the top feedback that we've received from you.

The first feature is that we've removed AJAX paging in favor of typical post-back paging for the next page of comments. We've also replace the back/next model of paging in favor of the more common page by page number shown below. 

paging 

We've also added inline links to each of comment pages directly in the thread title for easier navigation.

inline paging

Finally, we've replaced threaded conversations with the much-beloved ability to quote the text of another comment.

quoting 

Improved Code Formatting

We've also updated our code formatting tool to use Alex Gorbatchev's Javascript syntax highlighter, both for our learning content and for adding code snippets to comments.

code snippet  


Now licensed under Creative Commons
Thanks to the work of our fearless leader, Jeff Sandquist, Channel 9 video content is also now licensed under this Creative Commons license. This helps clarify how you can reuse and redistribute our content, as we get emails from folks wanting to copy these files inside of their company or burn DVDs for their user group. 


Goodbye wiki and Sandbox submissions
Given the proliferation of wiki's at Microsoft we are retiring the Channel 9 wiki in Revolution 9. We expect the wiki to move to Florida and enjoy shuffleboard and 5PM early bird dinner specials. If you'd like the content in the wiki, let us know and we can provide you a SQL script dump of the wiki content that you can use to your heart's content. Similarly, given that the Sandbox originally launched before CodePlex or code.msdn.com, both of which have a much richer feature set (versioning, issues, discussions, wikis, etc), we are no longer accepting submissions the Channel 9 sandbox. Unlike the wiki that's being retired, sandbox projects will continue to be available, but commenting and submissions to the Sandbox will be frozen (in carbonite). 

Test Drive coming soon
Next week, we'll be releasing a version of Revolution 9 on a separate test domain that you you'll be able to play with in parallel with the existing site. Depending on the amount of feedback we get, and bugs that we have to fix, we may end up replacing the current Channel 9 site within a few weeks following the test release.  

Let us know what you think
Hopefully you are as excited about this update as we are, and, as always, let us know what you think about Revolution 9!


Thanks again,
The Channel 9 Team


 

Follow the Discussion

  • Looking good Smiley While reading about the tech stuff I saw that you used memcache. I bet thats a great caching technology but why was it chosen over velocity? Has it to do with the requirment that it has to cooexist in azure?

     

    All the best, Tom

  • Duncan MackenzieDuncanma "yeah that's awful close, but that's not why I'm so hard done by"

    At the time we were completed the caching layer, Velocity wasn't available in Azure (and still isn't as far I know).... so yeah, we had originally built the caching layer around Velocity and moved to Memcache

  • Ian WalkerIan2 In geeks we trust ...

    Looking good.

     

    Q: Will I be able to do 'something special' with my XBOX live ID as a result of being a member of Channel 9?

    EG It would be cool if this got recognised and I got a Channel 9 tile option (or whatever they are called) on my Windows Phone? 

  • Must... have... test drive URL!

  • Very nice!  I'm so happy to see these screen shots.  I can't wait to use it!

  • Allan LindqvistaL_ Kinect ftw

    looks and sounds great Smiley love the azure hosting, c9 not beeing on azure has actualy been a major barrier for using it myself.. dogfooding you know Smiley

     

    is there a schedule for upcoming videos though? i really hope there is, that would be a great feature [that ive been nagging about before Wink ]

     

    in retrospect though i wish you'd been more open about te design progress during the development of rev9.. it looks great but it also looks pretty much done, and it doesnt seem like any major changes are gonna be made based on feedback if you're planning to rtw in a few weeks Smiley in the 1+ year since rev9 was announced there has only been one update of the progress that im aware of, atleast in video form

     

    oh well, new site looks really great, cant wait to try it out Smiley

  • Mike SampsonSampy And I come back to you now - at the turn of the tide

    As in on your Xbox? Yeah, that's not really up to us Smiley I don't think that kind of integration is possible.

  • Dorian MuthigDodo I'm your creativity creator™ :)

    I don't like it, it looks like you used way too large fonts and huge caption images for the series just to waste screen space

  • Mike SampsonSampy And I come back to you now - at the turn of the tide

    We still have the user CSS feature so you can change it if you want Smiley

  • GoddersUKGoddersUK A is A.

    Looking nice Smiley A few comments/suggestions:

     

    • Anonymous commenting - I can't see a captcha on that screenshot so what's being done to prevent spam? 
    • The ability to report specific replies in forum threads as spam, as well as threads themselves would be good
    • Liking the return of quotes Smiley
    • Will the ability to have an email me link on niner's profiles return?
    • Also - in that screenshot of posts in the forum it's not entirely clear, where it has the users that started the thread and the last poster, which of those is which.
  • GoddersUKGoddersUK A is A.

    Also, that preview link is not hard to guess Wink

  • Christian Liensbergerlittleguru <3 Seattle

    Sweet stuff. I love the new graphics. Seems like C9 gets to the next level. Awesome!

  • Dorian MuthigDodo I'm your creativity creator™ :)

    All I'm saying is the huge caption (that Silverlight TV thing) and then the tiny font below is bad, but don't make the font larger, the blind visually impaired can use the browser zoom or a magnifying glass...

  • Dave Williamsondavewill here birdie birdie, get in my belly!

    I don't see any mention of new notifications of site activity.  One of the biggest problems I have now is having to constantly "check-in" on one of my posts to make sure I'm being polite (timely) to someone who took the time to respond.  Add some Live Alerts hooks.

  • GoddersUKGoddersUK A is A.

    Awww... it's gone now Sad

  • Duncan MackenzieDuncanma "yeah that's awful close, but that's not why I'm so hard done by"

    As much as I'm glad you didn't post the link, telling us you found it was enough motivation for us to turn on our IP filter Smiley

     

    Soon all will be revealed!

     

  • When I go to screencasts now I get lots of videos in languages I don't speak. Will the new version support filtering by language?

  • Stefán Jökull SigurðarsonStebet Internet spaceships is serious ​business​3;

    This looks great! Looking forward to the test drive.

     

    But, no SmoothStreaming?!

  • Seconded : This is pretty much the only thing I want.

     

    Filtering videos by language is a must have feature. At the moment the content I can understand is far out weighed by videos in languages I don't speak.

  • Mike SampsonSampy And I come back to you now - at the turn of the tide

    Where do you mostly run into this content in other languages? My guess is the Related Videos and What you are watching sidebar boxes.

    I'll see if I can get a fix in to have related only show things in the same language as the current video (or at least English + current video's language).

  • Hi.

     

    http://channel9.msdn.com/Media/Screencasts/

     

    I find the screencasts on the site to be by far the most informative videos. This page is mostly spanish for me, which is fine when the titles are obviously in Spanish, but when the title is something like "ASP.NET Viewstate" and then you get in there and the actual vid is Spanish it just means it takes way longer to find something to watch.

     

    This has been requested before in the forums and was added to the dev list at some point.

     

    http://channel9.msdn.com/forums/Feedback/525732-See-only-english-VideosScreencastsPodcasts/?CommentID=552568

     

    Thanks

     

    Pete

  • Clint RutkasClint I'm a "developer"

    To quote Dan from this thread:  http://channel9.msdn.com/shows/This+Week+On+Channel+9/TWC9-The-First-Look-at-the-New-Channel-9/

     

    When we tested it, it was clear that while smooth streaming is great for live content, it's not something you want when someone is on a whiteboard or in Visual Studio showing a code sample given that it's non-deterministic on how/when it's going to be blurry. As a result, we realized it would be a bad thing to switch to smooth streaming as the default for all videos. That being said, any live content we do on Channel 9 would more than likely be via smooth streaming (at least until the next better way to do it comes out).

  • Nice! 

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