Software Review: Wimpy Streaming Media Tools | WebReference

Software Review: Wimpy Streaming Media Tools

Software Review: 'Wimpy' Streaming Media Tools


Adding multimedia to a Web site can make it more attractive and appealing to your visitors. Like most things though, you shouldn't add it just to have it on the site. There should be a purpose. If you do have a reason — e.g., you've created a music site or you have audio interviews and news items you want to offer — then you have several options for streaming the files.

Some of the options for adding multimedia have been around for awhile. Most of the existing methods require knowing how to write meta files and other such things. If you generally don't use multimedia on the sites you develop, or if you are new to it, it can be a bit rough until you learn the mechanics. Even if you know what you're doing, it can be tedious if you have to work with different media formats. Fortunately, other choices are available.

The Wimpy Option

One of those other options is "Wimpy," a multimedia streaming package that doesn't require a two-week course to understand it. The software is used on a number of Web sites; such as those with music, video and the spoken word.

Wimpy is based on the Macromedia Flash plugin. Almost every browser has the plugin already installed, which eliminates downloads of other programs. To use the Wimpy player, a visitor just needs to click the play button for the multimedia presentation to play. The player is embedded into the page itself.

Ease of Use

This program is really easy to use. All you have to do is upload a couple of files to your server, along with your multimedia files, and ... you're finished! Instant streaming audio or video! I'm serious! (I was only able to test the PHP version but the ASP version is supposed to be just as easy.) There is really nothing more to it. The files reside on your server; this is not a "service." An online manual is available, as well as a Quick Start Guide. In addition, there is also an excellent FAQ available.

The technique used to produce the multimedia is based on scripts, available in either PHP or ASP format. Files in XML format are used for the skins and customized playlists. The great thing is that none of these files need to be edited. Just upload them to your server. Creating the HTML code to display the media player is done right on the Wimpy site. Just answer a few questions and it's created for you. You only need to copy and paste the code into your HTML document.

Wimpy comes in three flavors: an MP3 player, an MP3 button and an AV player. The MP3 player is an actual audio player with all the buttons, just like a CD or tape player. The MP3 button is used when you only need to offer one audio file. The AV player is used to display video files using the Flash Video (FLV) format. You will need to convert your audio files to MP3 and your video files to FLV formats in order for them to work with Wimpy. Fortunately, MP3 is a popular format for audio files. The folks at Wimpy offer an audio encoder which converts WAV and AIF files to properly formatted MP3 files. If you look around the Internet, you can find software that will convert video files to the Flash format. Some are free, others you need to buy.

Customizing Wimpy

Of course you'll want to do some tweaking. Using the "Skin Machine" (a free download) it's easy to create your own "skins" for the media player. You can create custom XML playlists and JavaScript pop up windows for displaying the player. In addition, you can track usage and let visitors vote on selections. There are also plugins for MoveableType, Mambo, PHPnuke, and WordPress. Also available is the ability to create podcasts from your audio files. Be sure to check out the "Tips and Tricks" section on the Web site.

Wrapping it Up

Overall, this is one powerful package. If you're looking to include audio and/or video files on a site, you should seriously consider the Wimpy option. It can save you a lot of time, money and headaches. With Wimpy, there really is no reason you can't add multimedia to your Web sites.

Each module can be purchased separately — Button: $19.95; MP3 Player: $24.95; Wimpy AV: $29.95 — or the entire package for $59.95. The only requirements for the MP3 or AV player are that you have a Web site on the Linux, Mac, Unix or Windows server platform that is running PHP or ASP. The Wimpy Button only requires an HTML page.


Created: February 6, 2006