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A New Documentation Platform for all Bitmovin Products

Bitmovin documentation developer

As developers, we know how important it is to be able to find the right information quickly. With that in mind we have rebuilt our documentation section to make your life easier!

2018 has been a very productive year for us at Bitmovin: We introduced our new modular player, Bitmovin player v8, added Per-Title encoding and an end-to-end AV1 workflow as out-of-the-box features, we expanded our Player API by integrating our popular advertising features, and a lot more. Not only did these changes make our tech stack better, they have opened up a wealth of new possibilities for creative engineers to work with.
Coming from a developer-focused background, we understand how vital it is to provide documentation that’s up to speed with our tech. So with this many changes and improvements we decided it was the right time to give our documentation section a major facelift and overhaul. Besides restructuring, sorting, revising and updating the content, we also introduced some major changes to the framework to improve the usability and content delivery speeds for those who contribute as well as for those who read our stuff.
In this blog post, we’d like to give you a perspective on what’s new and showcase how you can benefit from our new documentation platform.

Better structure and faster content

The documentation section was realized using the Next.js framework and is running in a multi-regional Kubernetes cluster behind Cloudflare. We chose Next.js – a lightweight framework for server-side rendered (SSR) applications – due to its similarities to React, which we use for most of our front-end applications. Using the framework, we can build SSR applications in a similar way to how we would implement single page applications (SPAs). Additionally, following the initial loading procedure, the framework enables a couple of benefits that are otherwise typical of SPAs: Prefetching pages, page transitions and other cool features, which can not be made available with typical server-side rendering.
We use delivery through Cloudflare for all our front-end applications – our website, dashboard, demos, documentation etc. – and most of them run inside Docker on a Kubernetes cluster located on the US east coast. This setup allows for a great balance between network stability, speed and simple deployment. By using Kubernetes for our front-end deployments, we are able to push updates continuously and directly from our development and mainline branches. This way, updates can quickly be made available to our users, so you will be able to benefit from a new feature as soon as we’re ready to release it. This is also true for our documentation platform now, so it will be simpler to keep it up-to-date as our products continue to evolve.

Great looking content with extensive search capabilities

Regarding content management, we decided to switch to a headless CMS and chose Contentful as a solution. This brings a great level of flexibility to our documentation portal, allowing us to customize content in style and structure, creating the exact experience our users would like to see. Getting there is easier now, as we are using styled-components, reducing the overhead from separate CSS and enabling us to build slick looking “blocks” of content that also load fast.
Per-title search example in the new Bitmovin docs section
Content is written in Markdown, as we found that most of our developers enjoy working with it and comfortably use it to create well-structured content fast and simple. The new framework allows us to structure the content more easily and make quick and simple changes to the way things are indexed and delivered. Not only does everything load faster now, we were also able to introduce a neat new set of search capabilities using Algolia.
The decision to move the documentation portal in-house over going with third-party platforms comes with a couple of major benefits. First and foremost: speed. Loading times are a priority for us when it comes to delivering video and we want our documentation to fly just as smoothly. If you are a developer, you’ll wind up spending a lot of time browsing and researching documentation. That’s why we appreciate searchable, well-indexed content that loads fast and made sure that our new platform delivers in that regard.

How to use the new platform as a developer

While great search capabilities are tremendously helpful, a well-defined structure of the content is even more important, as it lays the foundation for a functioning integration of upcoming, additional content. The content requires a carefully conceived logic and a clearly defined place where it needs to go, in order for it to grow into something that will remain a pleasure to use for years to come.
Therefore we decided to create categories within in our new documentation platform, which correspond to our line of products. Each type of solution we offer has a category of its own. Within those categories, they all share common subcategories that provide certain types of content, targeted at different audiences with varying levels of familiarity with our stuff. For those who are just starting out using Bitmovin’s solutions, we offer quick start guides and tutorials. If you are familiar with the subject matter and just want to get a quick overview on the features we offer, there are FAQs, release notes, API reference docs as well as our set of SDKs. The way we envision it, the documentation section should be well-equipped to provide the desired information to pretty much anyone who is interested in or already actively using our solutions.

We’ll be constantly reviewing our documentation section and taking in as much feedback as we can, so make sure to check back regularly.

The future: a unified Bitmovin front end for our dashboard, documentation and demo section

As mentioned, a main driver in our motivation to introduce a new content framework came from the desire to eventually create a unified platform for our key pieces of content: Our dashboard, our documentation and our demos. All of those will be migrated to the new platform and come with a consistent look and feel.
We’re also keen to start using the newly introduced framework to its full potential. One idea we have in mind is using the platform to add interactive tutorials, helping developers to familiarize themselves with our APIs even faster, so they can focus on creating amazing implementations and get the most out of their workflows. While some of these changes are still a work in progress, many new features can already be tried out on our new dashboard documentation portal. Check out the all-new platform in the documentation section of our website. Sign up today!
We’re excited about introducing these updates to our documentation and hope that they will help make our products a pleasure to work with. If you are a developer or solutions architect working with our solutions, we would love to hear what you think about the new documentation section. Be sure to let us know if you have any feedback or suggestions!

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