13th Annual Webby Awards powered by Silverlight

This past week the entire Webby Awards platform, including The Webby People's Voice Awards voting system switched to Microsoft Silverlight. The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet, and has been sponsored by Adobe, Nokia, and others in the past. This marks Microsoft’s first sponsorship of this event. Webby Award winners range from celebrities and top brands to advertising and creative agencies. In addition to providing the player for the Webby People’s Voice Awards, Microsoft’s presenting sponsorship of the 13th Annual Webby Awards includes presentation of a Photosynth and Deep Zoom collection of the Gala event and other Silverlight-powered experiences which will be rolled out over the coming months.

The Webby People's Voice Awards – powered by Silverlight, gives anyone the opportunity to vote for their favorite content in the categories of Websites, Mobile, Film and Video, and Interactive Advertising, with over 120 sub-categories. Over 150 videos entries in the Film and Video category are streaming in Silverlight today on http://pv.webbyawards.com. In just the first day of The Webby People's Voice Awards voting, the Silverlight People’s Voice experience broke all previous Webby Awards records with over 70,000 votes registered.

Visit www.webbyawards.com over the coming weeks to experience the 13th Annual Webby Awards powered by Silverlight. Congratulations to Hard Rock Memorabilia and Vertigo for being selected as an Honoree in the ‘Best Use of Photography’ category. Congratulations also to NBCOlympics.com and Schematic – nominated in the Sports category. Vote for the Silverlight NBC Olympics experience in the People’s Voice Awards at http://pv.webbyawards.com/ballot/home/1/568/620#entry1784.

Some notes on the process of integrating Silverlight into the Webby site by Laurence Moroney – Silverlight developer.

When building new functionality for a website, often the integration of the technology is a longer, more difficult, and riskier proposition than the building of the application itself. The integration of Silverlight in the Webby awards site was an interesting exercise, run against the clock. There were a number of constraints, and the flexibility of the technology shone in being able to get around these constraints.

  • One constraint was that the video needed to have a webby’s bug (the semi translucent logo in the lower right corner) and a Silverlight bumper added. This is typically easy enough to do when encoding video, but this had to be done to existing video without re-encoding it. Silverlight makes this easy. The bug is added by using a transparent PNG and adjusting its opacity. The bumper is added by catching events on the <MediaElement> to determine when the video has finished playing. Then, it plays another video file which has been embedded into the player itself. Problem solved!
  • Another was that the player needed to be embedded in an existing site, touching the site as little as possible, so as not to cause any regression bugs. Silverlight can do this easily, as it’s an <Object> tag, so it can be placed on a page without too much difficulty. However, placing the player isn’t enough – the player has to be initialized with the correct video, and with meta data related to the video (a title and link). Typically you might do this with an ASP.NET or PHP page that reads in parameters and generates the player with them. But how do you pass them to the player itself? Fortunately Silverlight has a solution to this in having a custom parameter list on the <Object> tag. So, for example, here’s the custom parameter for one of the videos on the Webbys site:
    <param name="initParams" 
    height=520,width=587,title=Better than Prince" />

The resulting player can be found HERE.

So, thanks to the ease of integration of Silverlight on an existing site (even one built on non-Microsoft technology as the Webby awards site is), allowed us to go from zero to fully functioning, integrated functionality with only 2 people, in only 2 weeks.

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