More Reliable – More Flexible – More Attractive: Update on the Development of the AV-Portal

diesen Beitrag auf Deutsch lesen

The video portal of the German National Library of Science and Technology ( offers a platform for scientific (open access) videos from all disciplines with a focus on natural sciences and technology. It currently has nearly 40,000 media in its collection and records 700,000 visits per year. The videos are published free of charge, analyzed and long-term archived, receive a permanent citation link (digital object identifier, DOI) and can be linked to further information. The publication of the videos is legally clarified and editorially supported. The portal is completely free of advertising.

An in-house Scrum team is developing the TIB AV-Portal in an agile and continuous manner. As in previous years, this blog post provides an overview of the current developments (see the posts from 2021 and 2020). Numerous implementations are based on requests from internal and external users of the AV-Portal.

Subject-specific: Video portal for the specialized information service BAUdigital

An instance of the TIB AV-Portal was cloned and, as a subject-specific video platform, is part of the specialist information service BAUdigital. The new video plattform went live on January 7, 2022, and provides a special search space and content curation for freely accessible videos from civil engineering, architecture, and urban planning. Video publication is carried out regularly via the TIB AV-Portal.

Screenshot from the homepage of the FID BAUdigital
Start page of the video portal for the the specialist information service BAUdigital

As a clone of the “original” AV-Portal, the specialist portal is also being further developed in terms of functionality on an ongoing basis.

Better discoverability: Renewal of search and sorting

For search, the AV-Portal uses the open source software Apache Solr. The portal’s search was completely renewed by an upgrade to Solr Cloud, the removal of the old Solr and a conversion to new Solr fields. Based on this, the ranking could be fine-tuned and a solution could be implemented that offers search suggestions in case of incorrect text entries with twisting or typing errors. For example, “information retrieval” is suggested for the incorrect search entry of information retrievel.

An extensive list of synonyms has been created and integrated for all subjects of the AV-Portal from a current extract of the Integrated Authority File (GND). When entering search terms, synonyms and English translations are now also queried for all subjects. For example, if the user enters ”Wärmelehre”, results for “Thermodynamik” and “thermodynamics” are also returned, which increases the number of relevant search results (recall). Previously, this synonym query only worked for TIB’s six core subjects and was based on an outdated vocabulary.

The genre (e.g., conference, experiment, video abstract) was included in the video’s metadata, and search results can be filtered by it.

Screenshot of a list of results filtered by genre
Filtering search results by the genre “experiment/model”

Search results can be sorted by relevance, popularity (number of views), the alphabet and publication date. In addition, the series details page allows sorting by series order (ascending and descending).

These measures have significantly improved the discoverability of relevant videos or video content.

More reliable: technical implementations for the frontend

The Wicket frontend framework has been migrated to the vue.js framework. As a consequence, the individual components of the graphical user interface are generated dynamically, i.e. only those components that have changed in the view are updated. For example, header and footer of a page no longer need to be reloaded when search results on the page are reordered. This makes generating the various pages in the AV-Portal more economical and faster.

After the backend of the AV-Portal had been migrated to the Kubernetes cluster in 2020, the frontend (graphical user interface and databases) was also fully integrated into the cluster. This facilitates the operation (installation, monitoring, maintenance) of the portal and increases fail-safety. Since then, the operation of frontend and backend is completely in the hands of the AV-Portal Scrum team.

Fewer (language) barriers: Video subtitling

Of the existing and published speech transcripts, 70% can now be activated as video subtitles. To do this, the user clicks on the video subtitle icon next to the speaker icon in the player. Note: Some of the speech transcripts are not sufficiently fine-grained for display; some manually created transcripts are not correctly correlated with the timecode. The Scrum team is working with other teams at TIB to extend and improve the quality of video subtitling in the AV-Portal.

Activated video subtitling

Now citable: Series

Like individual videos, all new and increasingly older video series are assigned a digital object identifier (DOI) that allows them to be permanently cited. The series DOI can be found on the series details page.

Descriptive metadata for series can be cited in BibTeX, RIS, and text format as a citation suggestion or transferred to the literature management program of choice. Analogous to the video detail page, literature management programs can also import the series citation via CoinS. The video and series citation has been expanded to include metadata such as abstract, series title, part of series, and series DOI.

Screenshot showing what it looks like to cite a series in BibTeX format
Citation of a series in BibTeX format

More functional and flexible: the upload form

Users can use the upload form to upload videos and accompanying materials. In addition, there is the option of providing the data via data carrier, FTP server or link list (see the FAQ entry How do I publish videos and accompanying material in the TIB AV-Portal?). The upload form has been made more user-friendly: There is now a progress indicator that informs how far the upload has been completed. The upload can now also be cancelled. As another user-friendly implementation, a dialog appears after the successful upload, where users can choose whether they want to upload a new video with a blank form or a similar video. In the case of the similar video, the input from the previous upload is largely carried over in the form, so users only need to change details.

Clearer: My Media

With a portal account, individual videos can be saved in playlists and also entire series under „My Media“. Playlists and series can be scrolled in the page navigation independently of the video content. This facilitates navigation and orientation in the lists.

Also, the publicly shared playlists have been marked with an eye icon so that users can easily see in the overview which playlists they have published.

Screenshot showing a saved playlist under “My Media”
Saved playlists and series in “My Media”

More attractive: Tiles on the start page

The AV-Portal provides editorially maintained notes on services and features of the portal on the start page. These are now no longer displayed in a clunky slider, but on tiles. The tiles are slimmer and show the various notes openly at a glance.

Screenshot showing the start page of the AV portal with editorial recommendations
Tiles with service notes and editorial recommendations on the start page

Outlook on future developments

High-resolution: generating video derivatives at TIB

The HD derivatives can now be generated at TIB in various video resolutions up to 1080p with special analysis engines. The quality of the videos with the new resolutions is much better than the old resolution with 576p (DVD quality) and still requires less storage. Derivatives in different resolutions allow greater adaptability to the bandwidth of users, which is often indicated when the data is accessed mobile. So far, however, the videos in these resolutions are only available in the development system. The Scrum team is working on offering the higher video resolutions in the production system as well.

Ukrainian educational videos in the AV-Portal

Within the project “Open Educational Resources with Ukraine”, funded by the German Academic Exchange Service, Ukrainian partner universities of Leibniz Universität Hannover in Kiev, Dnipro and Kharkiv are supported in maintaining, developing and digitizing their current teaching offer in times of crisis according to their needs.

For this purpose, English and Ukrainian teaching videos from various subjects are produced under the conditions of open educational resources and made freely available to students and the interested public on the AV-Portal. The Ukrainian educational videos will be subtitled in English so that they can be used by users who do not understand Ukrainian. The first content will be available for viewing in December 2023 at the earliest.

... ist Product Owner des TIB AV-Portals // ... is product owner of the TIB AV Portal