Video Management within Eclipse CMS

Integrating the Video Platform Kaltura to a CMS Client

The integration and management of video assets within web content management systems challenges both users and operators alike. Connecting an existing video management platform with the employed CMS is an effective way to achieve this goal, while simultaneously not reinventing the wheel and keeping user training short. The German company subshell chose this path and integrated the open source video platform Kaltura into the client application of Sophora, their popular content management system.

There are several ways to enhance a web content management system with video-related features. A handy and common method is to upload videos to one of the leading video portals and embed them into your own website with the help of HTML- or JavaScript-Snippets. Even though this variant requires comparably minimal technical effort, it is still not very comfortable for the user. In addition, the control over the actual video data is relinquished to a third-party service provider whom you usually have to grant rights to use and publish these sources. Another option to integrate videos might be to implement your very own solution for the CMS at hand. However, time and effort as well as maintenance of such solutions are rather high and mostly lack interchangeability.

For those reasons, the development team of subshell chose a third way: the integration of the open source video platform Kaltura with their CMS Sophora. To better understand the connection of both systems, they are introduced individually at first. Afterwards, functional and technical details of the integration are highlighted. 

What is Sophora?

Sophora is a Java based content management system built upon Apache Jackrabbit, an implementation of the JCR specification (Content Repository API for Java). For the play-out of content, Sophora focuses on Java Server Pages (JSP) within an Apache Tomcat server. The editorial user interface is an Eclipse Rich Client Platform application, called “DeskClient“. An article about Sophora's utilization for one of Germany's leading news websites,, has been published in edition 2.11 of the German Eclipse Magazine and online at

What is Kaltura?

The Kaltura platform is an open source video asset management system that is already in use by notable clients such as Universal, Sony, Pepsi and Coca Cola. There are two different versions available. Besides the free community edition you can purchase a variant including hosting and support services. At this point, subshell collaborates with a partner firm; the nacamar GmbH handles the hosting of the Kaltura system including streaming and transcoding. The product is called medianac.

Kaltura's Architecture

The architecture of the video platform basically consists of four layers. The bottom layer contains web-services that act as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) in a cloud. On top of this, there is a layer of client libraries for programming languages such as C#, Ruby or Java. These libraries abstract from the web-service and thus ease the corresponding communication. The next layer comprises so-called widgets, which can be used for certain tasks such as playing or uploading videos. These widgets, offered by Kaltura, are generally based on Adobe Flash so that they can be embedded into custom applications. Finally, the top layer consists of plug-ins for third-party applications, for instance Drupal, WordPress, MediaWiki and Joomla. This last layer also contains the Kaltura management console, which aggregates almost all widgets in one web-interface and thereby enables the management of the entire system. With the help of this console you can upload videos, manage existing ones, change the configuration, create video collections (which are called Mixes), analyze click rates and much more.

The Idea

At this point you might be wondering what the benefits are when connecting a video platform, in this case medianac, and the CMS, Sophora. One of the biggest advantages is that editorial journalists who work with this CMS on a daily basis, do not need to familiarize themselves with another application, but instead can use the new features within the known environment. The simplified integration of new tools into the user interface is a core element of Sophora and particularly convenient for the user. Since Sophora is document-based, different content types like news articles, image galleries, links, audios or videos are modeled as individual documents. This way users are facilitated to create pages by composing corresponding documents rather than to edit the entire website as a whole. Thus built-in CMS functionality, such as drag and drop to combine content, document life-cycle operations, or different levels of user permissions, is available for videos as well.

Configurational details, which are non-relevant for the users (like the applied video codec) can be hidden from certain roles. The management of different roles also allows a clear separation of responsibilities within the editorial workflow: Multimedia journalists handle the configuration and supply of video assets while their colleagues provide conventional content as usual.  

Another advantage of medianac is that the control over the actual video data remains in your hands, because there is an unrestricted access to all assets within the video platform. You determine a video's life cycle and which formats are available in a certain quality. Since the Kaltura instance is under your administration, you neither have to grant external usage nor publication permissions to a hosting company, as is usually the case when using one of the leading video portals (see for instance, section 10 of the terms of use of YouTube).



Sven Hoffman
Sven Hoffman

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