Framatube: Federation and Design of PeerTube

This comes some weeks after Chocobozzz joined our team to devote himself to the development of PeerTube, the software we offer on

So we’re taking the opportunity to make a first update, with some wonderful news to announce!

Federating is good, federating well is better.

To review, Framatube will be only one of the gateways for PeerTube federations. And Framatube will not host your videos: we prefer to only accompany you as you create your own PeerTube hosting (or join an existing one), so that these gateways, these instances of PeerTube, will multiply.

Because it is one of the great aims of PeerTube to arrange things so that each of these instances, each of these video hosting sites, can rely on the others, or federate. The key thing is to figure out HOW to federate!

To achieve this, PeerTube implements a first version of the ActivityPub protocol. For those who aren’t familiar with it, this is a federation protocol developed by the W3C. That is to say, it standardizes the manner in which different instances communicate. If two different platforms can speak the same language, they can exchange information. That doesn’t sound like much, but it opens up huge possibilities for decentralized software.

Imagine if tomorrow MediaGoblin implements the ActivityPub protocol (and this should be the case!) and becomes compatible with PeerTube, so your friend who installed this software on his server can send the index of his videos to your PeerTube server and vice versa. You can search for any video stored on his server (or even other servers!) while comfortably remaining on the PeerTube web interface. Instead of having competing platforms, we’ll have a federated network that is more powerful thanks to collaboration. And this is a value that is dear to us in the free scene.

Illustration : CC-By-SA Emma Lidbury

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Where it gets really exciting is when two platforms with different functions communicate with each other. Picture an instance of Mastodon, a decentralized alternative to Twitter with more than a million accounts and which has already implemented the ActivityPub protocol. Now picture an instance of PeerTube with a filmmaker you like and who regularly posts videos. Wouldn’t it be great if you could follow him via your Mastodon interface, and each time he publishes a video see updates in your news feed that directly contain the video? Well, this will be possible.

But where it gets really, really exciting, is that when you respond to a video status on Mastodon, the message will be sent to the instance of PeerTube. Your response will thus be visible beneath the video, in the comment space. And yes, if another person at the other end of the world responds to your comment via his instance of PeerTube or Mastodon, you’ll see it as a response to your status in Mastodon. If tomorrow Diaspora (the Facebook alternative behind Framasphere) implements ActivityPub, it will work the same way. We’ll have plenty of platforms that are capable of federating comments.

He looks oafish, but this old mastodon could very well crush Twitter if we let ourselves choose that…

Free alternatives are criticized, often with reason, for not having added value compared to centralized platforms. With ActivityPub, we now have our first big advantage. Because on the centralized platforms, you’ll have a hard time viewing, under your Youtube video, the reactions of people who commented on Facebook, Twitter, DailyMotion, etc. 😉

Admittedly, we’re not there yet.

There remains a bit of work to do on PeerTube to improve the implementation of ActivityPub, then test communication with other platforms. But the first results are very encouraging :). On the other hand, it seems important to us to mention that the implementation of ActivityPub in PeerTube and Mastodon will not allow you to create an account on an instance of PeerTube from your Mastodon account, or vice versa.

Design is a job!

Among the questions you asked us on the FramaColibri forum was Olivier Massain‘s proposal to help us improve the design of PeerTube (something it needs!). The models he created are magnificent. So we decided to give you a preview of the integration of his fantastic work, with a little “before and after”! A huge thanks to him.

Main page, before…
…Main page, after.
Watching a video, before…
Watching a video, after.
My Account page, before…
…and My Account, after.
As for the My Videos page, it didn’t exist yet!

Contribution is key

The subject of using the ActivityPub protocol came up very often among the most technical questions you asked us about PeerTube. Moreover, your questions enabled us to improve the presentation of PeerTube in our suggestion that you discover Framatube in 10 answers.

It was again in this same space for exchange and discussion that Olivier Massain proposed to contribute to the design of PeerTube. So here is proof, if more was needed, that contribution is the key to the sucess of Free projects. It’s not for nothing that we placed Framatube in the first world landscape of Contributopia: it’s because we know that we can get there if we work together.

Another way to contribute is to participate in financing Framasoft’s activities, and, there too, we must tell you how delighted we are with the support you give us. On November 21, we coupled the announcement of Framatube with a call for donations, because we needed, alas, €90,000 to meet the association’s 2018 budget. We split this sum into three parts:

0-30,000: financing of PeerTube/Framatube
30-60,000: maintenance/improvement of Degooglize the Internet services
60-90,000: Realization of 2018 Contributopia projects

At the moment of writing these lines, the second milestone is almost attained! Although there indeed remains an effort to put in and nothing has been earned, already we thank you for your trust and hope to do everything we can to show ourselves worthy. A small reminder for people who pay revenue taxes in France: you have until December 31 to give a donation to Framasoft that can be deducted from your 2017 revenues (know that a donation of €100 comes to €34 after deduction).

If you want to and can, consider supporting Framasoft, and/or spreading this information!

Framatube, illustrated by David Revoy – License: CC-By 4.0

[Translated from French by George Hendrickson. Originally posted on The Framablog. This translation is free to distribute with attribution under the CC 4 License.]

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