Alfresco support, by default, the preview in your browser of some video formats like mp4 but doesn’t support some others like mkv, avi or wmv. Even if Google Chrome can read mkv files for example, if you try to use the action “View in Browser” (this is not the same thing as the preview), Chrome will not try to play the mkv file but will download it instead. That’s why if you upload an mp4 video in Alfresco, you will certainly be able to watch this video directly in your browser. In this blog, I will try to explain how to configure an external tool to take care of the thumbnails creation and transformations for your videos. To achieve that, we will install and configure ffmpeg. In addition to that, you can also very easily configure Alfresco to embed an external video player like “FlowPlayer” that would take care of playing all video formats directly “streaming” from Alfresco, not using your browser. Basically, this is done by replacing the preview page for some Mime types but I will not describe it in details here.
For this blog post, I will use /opt/alfresco-4.2.c as the $ALF_HOME environment variable: the folder where Alfresco has been installed. The current release of ffmpeg is version 2.6.3. This is at least working for Alfresco v4.2.x and v5.x.

I. Installation of ffmpeg

The ffmpeg binaries/executables are available in the ffmpeg website. From this website, download the “Static” build for Windows, Linux or Mac depending on the Operating System on which Alfresco has been installed. For this example, I will use a linux host (RedHat 6.x, 64 bits) but I can assure you that it’s working properly on Windows too. I already installed ffmpeg with several versions of Alfresco from v4.2.x to 5.x.

[alfresco ~]$ cd /opt
[alfresco /opt]$ wget http://johnvansick...elease-64bit-static.tar.xz
[alfresco /opt]$ tar -xJf ffmpeg-release-64bit-static.tar.xz
[alfresco /opt]$ chmod -R 755 ffmpeg-2.6.3-64bit-static
[alfresco /opt]$ chown -R alfresco:alfresco ffmpeg-2.6.3-64bit-static
[alfresco /opt]$ mv ffmpeg-2.6.3-64bit-static /opt/alfresco-4.2.c/ffmpeg

These commands will download, extract, change the permissions/ownership and rename the folder to something more friendly (at a more proper location too).

II. Configuration of Alfresco

Once ffmpeg has been installed, the next step is to configure Alfresco to use it. The first thing to do is to add some parameters in the well-known alfresco-global.properties file. Don’t hesitate to customize these paremeters, remove the lines that aren’t needed, aso…

[alfresco /opt]$ cd /opt/alfresco-4.2.c/tomcat/shared/classes

[alfresco /classes]$ cat alfresco-global.properties
### Begin of the file with your custom parameters ###
### E.g.: dir.root, db.driver, db.username, aso... ###

### FFMPEG executable location ###
ffmpeg.exe=/opt/alfresco-4.2.c/ffmpeg/ffmpeg

### Video Thumbnails parameters ###
# ffmpeg.thumbnail
content.transformer.ffmpeg.thumbnail.priority=50
content.transformer.ffmpeg.thumbnail.extensions.3g2.jpg.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.thumbnail.extensions.3gp.jpg.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.thumbnail.extensions.asf.jpg.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.thumbnail.extensions.avi.jpg.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.thumbnail.extensions.avx.jpg.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.thumbnail.extensions.flv.jpg.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.thumbnail.extensions.mov.jpg.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.thumbnail.extensions.movie.jpg.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.thumbnail.extensions.mp4.jpg.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.thumbnail.extensions.mpeg2.jpg.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.thumbnail.extensions.mpg.jpg.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.thumbnail.extensions.ogv.jpg.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.thumbnail.extensions.wmv.jpg.supported=true

### Video Transformations parameters ###
# ffmpeg.flv
content.transformer.ffmpeg.flv.priority=50
content.transformer.ffmpeg.flv.extensions.3g2.flv.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.flv.extensions.3gp.flv.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.flv.extensions.asf.flv.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.flv.extensions.avi.flv.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.flv.extensions.avx.flv.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.flv.extensions.mov.flv.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.flv.extensions.movie.flv.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.flv.extensions.mp4.flv.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.flv.extensions.mpeg2.flv.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.flv.extensions.mpg.flv.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.flv.extensions.ogv.flv.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.flv.extensions.wmv.flv.supported=true
# ffmpeg.mp4
content.transformer.ffmpeg.mp4.priority=50
content.transformer.ffmpeg.mp4.extensions.3g2.mp4.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.mp4.extensions.3gp.mp4.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.mp4.extensions.asf.mp4.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.mp4.extensions.avx.mp4.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.mp4.extensions.mov.mp4.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.mp4.extensions.movie.mp4.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.mp4.extensions.mpeg2.mp4.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.mp4.extensions.mpg.mp4.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.mp4.extensions.wmv.mp4.supported=true
content.transformer.avi.mp4.extensions.mpg.mp4.supported=true
content.transformer.ogv.mp4.extensions.wmv.mp4.supported=true
# ffmpeg.mp3
content.transformer.ffmpeg.mp3.priority=50
content.transformer.ffmpeg.mp3.extensions.aiff.mp3.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.mp3.extensions.au.mp3.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.mp3.extensions.m4a.mp3.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.mp3.extensions.oga.mp3.supported=true
content.transformer.ffmpeg.mp3.extensions.wav.mp3.supported=true

In the above configuration, the parameter “ffmpeg.exe=/opt/alfresco-4.2.c/ffmpeg/ffmpeg” is the location of the binary file named ffmpeg. If you install Alfresco and ffmpeg on a Windows host, then this parameter looks like: “ffmpeg.exe=C:/Alfresco-4.2.c/ffmpeg/bin/ffmpeg.exe”
Once this is done, you need to enable the thumbnail & transformation extensions in Alfresco and this is done using the following steps:

[alfresco /classes]$ cd /opt/alfresco-4.2.c/tomcat/shared/classes/alfresco/extension
[alfresco /extension]$ mv video-thumbnail-context.xml.sample video-thumb-context.xml
[alfresco /extension]$ mv video-transformation-context.xml.sample video-transf-context.xml

If you want, you can parse these two files to understand what Alfresco will do with ffmpeg but basically these files define the commands and options that will be used by Alfresco.
And that’s it, Alfresco has been configured to use ffmpeg for thumbnails creation and transformations of your video. For Alfresco to take these changes into account, simply restart your Application Server using an Alfresco service:

[alfresco ~]$ service alfresco restart

Or using Alfresco default scripts:

[alfresco ~]$ /opt/alfresco-4.2.c/alfresco.sh stop
[alfresco ~]$ /opt/alfresco-4.2.c/alfresco.sh start

To check if ffmpeg is working properly, simply open Alfresco Share, browse your repository to find a video with an avi or wmv format and a thumbnail should now be present (if not, just refresh the page…). You can also try to upload a video and if a thumbnail is created for this video, then ffmpeg is working!


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by
Morgan Patou