Building a Video Portal in Rails - Or How the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Started Streaming

Location: Pavilion 2 - 3 Level:
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A team of Rails developers, designers, and an enterprising media and licensing company embarked on a challenge: How to put every video in the 4Kids Entertainment content library online, streaming free to millions of kids (and children-at-heart). This session will review the challenges and approach of the development of the website, that streams over 1 million videos per month and is one of the fastest growing video websites in 2008.

The streaming media platform presented a variety of challenges in architecture, design, and operations.

Regarding architecture, the following questions will be explored:

  • How do you work with Content Delivery Networks (CDN’s) and video encoding and ingestion services?
  • How do you structure your database, library, model, and presentation logic to make the best of use of the Flash and video content management system requirements necessary for a destination video portal?
  • How do you deploy a scalable architecture for this sort of site? (The answer is ngnix, and unfortunately not Passenger as we learned)

Regarding design:

  • How do you implement SEO friendly URL’s, related videos, send to a friend, and other features that are expected of a world-class video portal?
  • Discuss Flash video player, DoubleClick/DART/InStream video ad platform, and Rails integration in more detail
  • Learning to love Rake to handle asychronous processing of external content management systems.
  • Integrating web analytics


  • What sort of administration screens and processes do you deliver to system admins, marketing folks, and product managers to run a portal like this?
  • What does the QA and build process look like?
  • Using hoptoad for application monitoring.
Photo of Ed Laczynski

Ed Laczynski


Ed is an Internet technologist and entrepreneur, with experience leading teams on Web 2.0 and cloud computing development projects. Ed started LTech, a successful Enterprise search and cloud applications integrator in 2001. In 2006, Ed formed Zype Media Group, an interactive publishing, media, and advertising firm.

Recently, Ed has been engaging in the Ruby on Rails community, developing software and APIs for a media and advertising applications.

Ed lives in northern New Jersey with his family. He enjoys programming, playing guitar, skiing, cooking, and having fun. He is a long time member of the Agile Alliance.

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Nathaniel Bibler

Envy Labs

Nathaniel Bibler is a private software consultant based in the Central Florida area. He has been designing web based software for the past 13 years and has been building and supporting Rails-based systems and applications almost exclusively for the past 3 years. In that time, he has created or contributed to several Rails plugins including attachment_fu and open_id_authentication as well as provided accepted patches into the Rails core. He is a long-time member and presenter in the Orlando Ruby User Group.

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Nathaniel Bibler
05/10/2009 12:06pm PDT

Thanks, Conrad. We certainly appreciate the kind words. Feel free to get in touch if you have any more questions.

Picture of Conrad Taylor
Conrad Taylor
05/08/2009 2:03pm PDT

Hey Ed and Nathaniel, I just wanted to thank you for a great presentation on Thursday at Railsconf 2009 as well as the after session discussion. This information was worth its weight in gold because I’m currently dealing with the publishing of video on the internet at a lesser scale.

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