Google Pulls YouTube Custom Player – no warning…

My day was to be a relatively simple one.  Create a few more feeds via YouTube playlists for a pro-bono site we built, so they can go live and start recruiting kiddos for a nifty local string orchestra program, deal with some emails and proposals, and hopefully, have enough time in the evening to relax with a Seabreeze and maybe a movie.

It was going great, too, for the most part, up until I needed to create some custom players for the playlists I just spent a few hours creating and organizing.  That’s when things started to go South. Way South.

I don’t use YouTube often enough to remember where every function is located, and they really could ‘fix’ the interface some, all things considered, but that’s a whole other story.  So I spent some twenty minutes or so looking for that create custom player option, and for the life of me, couldn’t find it.  Thank god there is Google, so I ran the search, grabbed the link to the instructions, clicked where I was supposed to, and lo and behold no mention of a YouTube Custom Player in ANY of the places it was supposed to be.  Gone, nada, zilch.

After some more time on Google, I ran into this post.  I quote: “Hey guys, We have discontinued support for the creation of new custom players.  Existing players will continue to function.  Let me know if you have any further questions here…” (Posted by David, from Google).  And a recommendation that we should all go and check out their API blog for changes to anything YouTube.

That, in a nutshell, I have a serious problem with.  See, most people that use embed codes and custom players and all that are NOT developers, and without the ability to do those things easily, they are indeed stranded.  To expect your average users and bloggers to read the API blog, especially for things that have nothing whatsoever to do with an API of any kind is asinine.

Custom WordPress Website design - notprofit

what we were using custom players for...

But the thing that gets me the most is the fact that Google employees response to the situation is so bloody arrogant and disrespectful to the very user base that made YouTube what it is.  There is no excuse for a company like Google to not have found a way of letting the users know about the changes, and even if we disagreed with them, we’d at least not be quite so stranded now.  They (Google) are supposedly working on a brand new and shiny custom player or something akin to that option for us, and we should all wait with bated breath and be giddy with excitement.  I would be, possibly, giddy if I didn’t just get a proverbial rug pulled out from under me, and that’s just with the few sites I have that ever relied on the player for any bit of content.  There are hundreds of thousands others that were hit a lot worse than I and have to now redesign their sites in their entirety.

What would it have cost Google to keep the old player and simple upgrade it when the new product was ready, and make sure the new thing was downward compatible?  Something tells me that if they wanted to – it would have been a nobrainer.  But with no other options and a huge user base – no exodus, no matter how large would hurt the company, which I guess, affords one the luxury of being arrogant and doing as you please…

Now for those of you on running or managing WordPress sites, you do have a few alternatives, just none as simple.  You can create custom player list feeds by using Custom Post Widget plugin in combination with TubePress and code your playlists and calls to display into content blocks (this way you can put specific dynamic feeds into any widgetized area of your site, without having to manually embed anything.  Or, there are third party players, but most don’t play well with other resources, sadly.  Either way, it’s a giant pain the butt, and the TubePress option won’t look nearly as nice as the custom player, no matter how stylized.

We utilize the above in two sites currently, so you can take a look:

Gainesville FL Real Estate

New Orleans Real Estate

Anyways, thanks for reading, and if you have nifty alternatives to the custom player, I’m all ears, and would love it if you left your ideas in the comments.

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2 Responses to Google Pulls YouTube Custom Player – no warning…
  1. Suzanne
    December 4, 2011 | 5:57 pm

    Did you ever find an alternative player? — I’m looking for one right now.

    • Jon Hardison
      December 6, 2011 | 10:30 am

      Several, but none very good at the moment. Just as the dust started to settle on this issue, Google kicked in another with syntax changes in their embedding options, so this probably isn’t the best time for the need. Half of what you find won’t work at the moment. Uggg! You can give SmartTube a try, but if you’re looking for something that’s going to handle playlists well, it’s still up in the air. Sorry. 🙁

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