Planet Miro

July 28, 2015

by Amara - by maggieS_PCF at July 28, 2015 10:08 AM


Changes deployed to July 24, 2015

452: Fixed import/export of YouTube subtitles with non-mutually recognizable language codes
2267: Made API datetimes use UTC timezone
2270: Removed Riemann code, which had no longer been in use
2280: Enabled HTTP callbacks without using amara-enterprise

July 24, 2015

by Amara - by pcfben at July 24, 2015 04:10 PM


The API code switchover seems to have worked pretty well judging from the lack of any complaints.  Now it’s time to move to continuous improvement mode.

The first change we’re going to do is quite simple.  Before, when we returned datetimes we would not specify the timezone and it would be in Mountain Time (see #2267).  After the change, we will specify the timezone and use UTC for the timezone.

That change is a pretty minor one, but it gives us the opportunity to test out the new API changing technical policy.  Here’s a reminder of how it works.

  • When we deploy a change to the API, we’ll pick a future date to switch over to the new behavior.  This is going to be one month from today 8/24/2015.
  • Before the switchover date, we return an HTTP header to indicate that the API will be changing.  The name is X-API-DEPRECATED and the value is the switchover date in YYYYMMDD format.  So for this change, we will return “X-API-DEPRECATED: 20150824″
  • Clients can start using the new API before the switchover date using the X-API-FUTURE header.  The value should be the date of the API that you want to use, also in YYYYMMDD format.  If the X-API-FUTURE date is >= the switchover date then the new API code will be used.  So you can send “X-API-FUTURE: 20150824″ to get the new behavior ahead of time.



May 12, 2015

by Amara - by pcfben at May 12, 2015 02:31 PM


The new API code has been running in production for a good while now without too much problem.  We’re going to switch to using that code only starting on our next deploy which will probably happen tomorrow.

The old URLs will continue to work, they are just going to be handled by the new code rather than the old code.  I previously talked about having them redirect to the new URLs, but it’s simpler to skip that part and just return a response using the new code.

So what’s next for the API code?  There’s a couple directions that we’ll be going in and some are fairly exciting:

  • We’re going to work with our partners to change the partner-specific API endpoints to using the new code.
  • This isn’t API-related exactly, but once we are done with the old code there are a lot of upgrades we can make to our third-party libraries.  This is awesome for us amara devs and also will hopefully come with some performance improvements.
  • Continuous improvement.  One of the best things about the new API code/system is that it has a reasonable way to make changes to the API.  It allows for a transitional time where API clients can continue using the old interface, but also optionally using the new interface.

May 04, 2015

by Amara - by janetpcf at May 04, 2015 08:39 AM


Changes deployed to May 1, 2015

  • 449: Improve time calculation when inserting subs lines
  • 1291: Sync history should display to team admins
  • 1743: Give error message when “start syncing” is unavailable
  • 2166: make sure video URLs are found whether their URL is http or https
  • 2167: Switch to docker-compose
  • 2181: Syncing to YouTube overwrites ASR subtitles instead of creating a new track
  • 2182: ASR subtitles get automatically imported from YouTube
  • 2183: Project initialization from docker-compose
  • 2184: Add Sicilian language
  • 2189: New API returns null language in team video activity
  • 2190: Allow API GET requests for usernames with spaces

Changes deployed to April 24, 2015

  • 1967: Add Gothic language
  • 2092: Switch to youtube captions API v3
  • 2150: Post-publish metadata edits for TEDTalks do not send callbacks to TED
  • 2160: Send Permissive CORS headers with the new API
  • 2162: Some users cannot access their Messages | Sent Messages pages
  • 2168: Password reset form is gone from Django CustomUser form
  • 2169: Allow instant navigation down the subtitle set with ALT+Down keys
  • 2170: Replace ALT with Option for Mac OS X in keyboard shortcuts legend
  • 2171: ALT+i does not work on Mac OS X
  • 2173: Fixed password fields on user edit form (#2168)
  • 2183: Project initialization from docker-compose

May 01, 2015

by Amara - by amarasubs at May 01, 2015 04:42 PM

Screenshot showing the full transcript in the YouTube video's meta-data section:

Michael Lockrey is Deaf, which means he depends on high quality captions for the videos he watches on the web.

Unfortunately, many YouTube videos that are captioned use automatically generated captions. Automated captions are often inaccurate and, uncorrected, they can do more harm than good. This is partially due to the perception creators have, when they think automated captions are “good enough”. In light of this situation, Michael has taken a hands-on approach to making change.

Michael built a website and tool called nomoreCRAPTIONS to challenge the prevalence of automatic captions (or “craptions” as Michael likes to call them). nomoreCRAPTIONS is a simple tool for improving automated captions, but it’s also a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of accurate captions for all web videos.

Screenshot of nomoreCRAPTIONS website.We had a chance to catch up with Michael and learn more about his efforts:


Amara: How do you explain nomoreCRAPTIONS to people?

Michael: nomoreCRAPTIONS was designed to be the easiest way to fix up the automatic craptions on shorter YouTube videos (i.e. up to 2 or 3 minutes in duration).

We’ve deliberately focused on leveraging the intrinsic value in automatic craptions as it’s usually quicker to fix up these auto-generated craptions rather than starting from scratch.

The other main benefits of nomoreCRAPTIONS are that:

There’s no barriers or learning curve – you simply plug in the link to the YouTube video you want to fix up. This means that it’s very easy for anyone* to roll up the sleeves and fix up the errors in the auto-generated craptions.

* (anyone === who can hear)

You don’t have to be the content owner and this means that you don’t need to wait days / weeks / months (or even years) to watch the captions (as any corrections are instantly available on the nomoreCRAPTIONS website).

Amara: What motivated you to start the project?

Michael: As a Deaf man, I need good quality captions to watch online video content and it’s well known that YouTube is the biggest repository of online videos.

In the past if I’ve come across a viral or otherwise interesting video on YouTube that I’d like to watch – invariably it won’t have good quality captioning and I’ve been unable to do so.

YouTube has admitted recently that only 25% of YouTube videos have captioning and most of these only have automatic craptioning, which doesn’t provide me with any accessibility outcomes and I wrote a blog post recently that suggests that this means that only 5% of YouTube videos are likely to have good quality captioning and this simply isn’t good enough.

So you could say that nomoreCRAPTIONS has also become a bit of a personal protest against Google and YouTube’s over-use of automatic craptions and perhaps also a “cry for help” for them to do more.

Amara: How do you underline the importance of nomoreCRAPTIONS?

Michael: The lack of captioning on YouTube videos and other online video platforms is one of the biggest accessibility issues on the web today.

But it’s very hard to get this message through to the general public and as the internet is largely an unregulated environment it means that the advocacy strategies that made captioning available on almost 100% of traditional media such as TV in the USA, UK and Australia will not necessarily be effective as more and more content shifts onto the internet.

As a result I’m a very strong believer that we have a huge fight on our hands to gain accessibility to online video content and the best way to achieve this is by making it simple and easy to add good quality captioning.

Amara: Do you have a favorite story about nomoreCRAPTIONS? Any exciting impact that you’ve seen?

Michael: My favourite story to date has been working closely with my father on YouTube captioning using the nomoreCRAPTIONS tool.

He’s retired and he’s also lost quite a bit of hearing as he’s now well into his 70’s which means that rather than him and I being some sort of dynamic captioning duo akin to an #A11Y Batman and Robin, we’re probably have more in common with the two guys from Dumb and Dumber!

But he’s really enjoyed using the nomoreCRAPTIONS tool and he’s now even volunteering to provide the captions for the Australian War Memorial YouTube channel as he has a lot of family members who served in previous wars and he’s very interested in learning about the family history etc.

It was also great to work with Amara and many of their volunteers recently on an advocacy project that is trying to get the New York Times to caption their online videos.

Check out our public Trello project page and whilst it doesn’t use nomoreCRAPTIONS (as the New York Times has actually disabled the automatic craptioning on their YouTube channel) we have used an innovative workflow where we focus on creating an accurate text transcript first and then upload this onto the web where it is synced to the audio track.

Many of the volunteers have raved about how it’s so good to not have to manually sync the text to the audio track and it’s a significant saving of 20-30% of the standard captioning workflow time, which means that volunteers can create even more accessibility outcomes.

Amara: Where would you like to see nomoreCRAPTIONS go in 2015?

Michael: The best thing that could happen in 2015 for nomoreCRAPTIONS would actually be a nail in our coffin – we want Google and YouTube to cease publishing the automatic craptions immediately.

Instead we’d love to see Google and YouTube be far more proactive on ensuring that captions happen, particularly for the bigger channels and content producers, such as the New York Times.

For example, they could easily prompt users whilst they’re waiting for videos to upload onto their channel to make sure their videos are captioned or they could even ask users to caption the first 15 – 30 seconds of a video, etc.

Another thing I’d like to see is for much more “low hanging fruit” to be captioned and it would be great to see some “quick wins” up on the A11Y-scoreboard.

By this I’m simply referring to videos (such as those by the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, where there’s already an accurate transcript published on the Australian Government’s website and it’s also usually added to the meta data on their YouTube video page) but the videos themselves are still not captioned.

Check out the links here:

Screenshot showing the full transcript in the YouTube video’s meta-data section:

Screenshot showing the full transcript in the YouTube video's meta-data section:

TEDx Talks are another good example – as most presenters would have a written script, that can be easily uploaded and automatically converted into a very accurate caption file.

Amara: Are there ways people can help with nomoreCRAPTIONS and/or get involved in the larger captions/accessibility movement?

Michael: nomoreCRAPTIONS is an open source project and we are currently receiving some great support and mentoring assistance from the team at Free Code Camp. This means that we have some students working on the next version of nomoreCRAPTIONS with node.js support and numerous other improvements.

Our product roadmap for nomoreCRAPTIONS also includes some new tools that will make it more efficient for captioning longer videos (as we usually don’t recommend using the existing nomoreCRAPTIONS tool for videos of more than 3 minutes in length).


We’re very grateful to Michael for sharing his time and thoughts – we’ll continue to stay in touch and bring updates. If you’d like to learn more about his efforts and/or get involved with nomoreCRAPTIONS, please check out the links below.

April 16, 2015

by Amara - by janetpcf at April 16, 2015 09:06 AM


Changes deployed to April 15, 2015

  • 1866: Editor: Don’t allow saving if timestamps are invalid
  • 1873: Add some more options per subtitle line in the editor
  • 2153: Editor shortcuts
  • 2157: Increase required version of coverage to fix warnings
  • 123: generalize editor-nonces / open-editor

Changes deployed to 21-March -> April 8, 2015

  • 1425: For YouTube videos, indicate whether they sync subtitles to YouTube
  • 1481: Editor: do not allow SHIFT+SPACE play and pause the video
  • 1950: Do not show line breaks in the transcript viewer
  • 1953: Upgrade to Django 1.4.20
  • 2047: Billing record not created for subs uploaded via the editor
  • 2112: Amara player displays subtitles with a delay
  • 2117: Display on diffing page how subtitle has changed – text, time, or both
  • 2126: Allow method to create a new user with a unique username
  • 2128: Track users created by other users via the API
  • 2146: Languages section in user profile is shown empty when it has data
  • 120: Duration and original lang from Pro Request not always stored on the video

April 07, 2015

by Amara - by pcfben at April 07, 2015 07:17 PM


The new API is here!  Last week we deployed the last bits of new API code for the general API.  Partner-specific stuff still needs to be implemented, but now we’re going officially deprecate the old API and I’d like to take this opportunity to politely nudge all API client to move over to using the new code.  Here’s the details:

  • Starting today the old API is officially deprecated
  • All API clients are encouraged to move to the new API.
  • 3 weeks from now (4/28) the old API urls will start redirecting to the new API urls.  The actual date might be a couple days later, but it won’t be before 4/28.
  • The client code changes should just be changing URLs, but please read my last blog post for details:
  • The URLs are switching from[path]



March 25, 2015

by Amara - by pcfben at March 25, 2015 04:49 PM


I just pushed the last bits of code to re-implement the API endpoints.  This includes the team application, message, and activity endpoints.  So this means that all of the general API has now been re-implemented with new code (finally).  It’s pretty laughable in hindsight that I thought 2-4 weeks was a reasonable amount of time for this, given that it actually took around 9.  But I think we are finally in a position to start the transition in the somewhat near future.

The timeline is probably going to be testing and reviewing the documentation this week.  Then we will start transitioning next week.  “Start transitioning” means that we simply will say that the old API is deprecated and give API clients a few weeks to migrate to using the new URLs.  Hopefully for all clients, this simply will mean switching the URLs, since the APIs are almost exactly the same.  However, clients should definitely test to make sure that we didn’t accidentally change functionality for them.

Speaking of keeping the same functionality, when re-implemented the API I tried to change as little as possible, but some things did end up changing.  The main reason for this was either the documentation was unclear about what the intended functionality was, or I thought that a certain piece of functionality was simply a very bad idea.  These are the main areas of change that I know about:

  • Tasks: it was pretty unclear to me how the interface for PUT/POST was intended to work.  I tried to keep it working more-or-less the same, but some of the code in the old API seemed to be bugs to me so I didn’t translate them over.
  • Team delete: I removed the ability to do a DELETE request on teams.  This seems like something that should never really happen in practice.  If you are depending on this functionality, please send me an email and we can make things work for your use-case.
  • Blank/null values: There were several places in the code where blank strings, null values, the string “null”, and missing values were used interchangeably.  I tried to follow the conventions that the old API used as much as possible, but I can’t say that I got it 100% correct.  Please email me if it’s not working for one of your use cases.

March 23, 2015

by Amara - by janetpcf at March 23, 2015 09:42 AM


Changed deployed to 2015-03-20

129: Add DOIT team to community page
1783: notes are only preserving the first line break
2043: Show endorsements/send backs in the editor notes
2044: enable communication between collaborators in the editor
2047: Billing record not created for subs uploaded via the editor
2064: Switch to OpenID Connect for google
2089: amara editor doesn’t use the primary url
2114: Add way to bulk-sync youtube subtitles for users

March 17, 2015

by Amara - by pcfben at March 17, 2015 06:31 PM


I skipped last weeks API update, but there has been lots of updates in that time.  I implemented basically all of the team-related parts of the API (Teams, projects, team members, tasks, etc.) Right now there’s still a bit to be tested, but I think we should be able to deploy it soon.

Most of the things was pretty simple, with the main exception being the tasks API.  Does anyone actively use the create/update parts of this API?  I notice that it was never really properly documented and had more than a few quirks.  I tried to keep the main functionality intact, but I can’t guarantee that some things won’t change.  If you use the create/update functionality I would definitely recommend checking your code once we deploy.

Once that code is deployed, there’s not much left to do.  The last remaining endpoints are:

  • video activity
  • team applications
  • user messages
  • partner-specific endpoints

I’m really hoping to wrap up the first three next week, and maybe even deploy it.  I know it’s taken longer than expected, but I think things are finally getting close to having a functional new API that can be fully tested against.

March 11, 2015

by Amara - by janetpcf at March 11, 2015 03:28 PM


There are a bunch of updates that have been pushed to Amara in the last few weeks.  So here’s a quick catch up on the release notes.

First off – we’ve added some additional help to introduce new users to the editor.  This will display for brand-new user, but if you want to see it yourself, you can always find it via the Tools > Show Tutorial menu.


Here’s the list of tickets recently deployed to Amara.

1852: Chars/sec alert starts at 21.1
1883: Add some more help for new users of the Editor
1944: redesign login page to use newer page layout
1968: Place complete, working embed code into Embed Video dialog
2017: embedder loading gif 404s on site
2022: extra characters in lang list
2028: Link to existing team if duplicate
2029: Do not log task send back actions as approvals
2046: keep notification logs longer and make them searchable
2051: Malformed HTML in email_base
1216: Add “Project” column in billing reports
2058: TED authentication broken on
2062: Detect whitespace-only search strings
2064: Switch to OpenID Connect for google
2067: Reviewers can approve tasks by re-opening the editor
2071: New API Video URL resource
2073: Make quick way to remove staff/superuser permissions from the django admin
2076: 404 looking up accounts via api that contain a ‘.’ in the username
2077: Add Hakha Chin language
2081: TypeError: user_can_view_private_subtitles() takes exactly 3 arguments (2 given)
2086: Upgrade Angular to 1.2.9
2095: Update dmca email address
944: Compare Revisions feature broken on paginated revision lists

March 10, 2015

by Amara - by amarasubs at March 10, 2015 01:18 PM

Screen shot of

If you haven’t seen this PSA that focuses on violence against women, which aired during the superbowl, it’s worth watching.

Eme de Mujer, a website of the largest Uruguayan daily newspaper El País, shared the PSA (with Spanish subtitles) in this recent post.

Screen shot of Amara, it always excites us to see videos, such as this, shared across cultural and/or in accessible contexts. We’ll continue to keep our eyes peeled and share anything that looks intriguing or neat.

What are Subtitles in the Wild? We’ve been keeping an eye on popular videos with posted on the web with using the Amara embedder – when we see something interesting or exciting, we’ll share it.

An Important Note: Amara blog authors aren’t fluent in every language. If you see any factual errors, cultural faux pas, or have notes or other blog-related ideas to share, please let us know in the comments or at We love conversation!


March 04, 2015

by Amara - by pcfben at March 04, 2015 09:28 PM


I feel like it’s been 2-3 weeks of me saying “we have lots of new API code for you to test, just wait for us to deploy it in the next few days”.  Well, the code is finally deployed.  If you have an API client, I would definitely recommend testing it against the new stuff.

Some of the highlights:

For more details, check out our RTD page:

I didn’t implement a lot of new things last week, mostly just fixed bugs in order to deploy this code.  I’m really eager to hear the results of API client testing against these endpoints.

Also on the way is the Videos URL resource.  It’s currently deployed to staging, so it should make it’s way to production over the next few days.

The main things that still need to be implemented are:

  • Team-related endpoints (team members, tasks, projects)
  • The Video Activity resource
  • Partner-specific API endpoints

February 26, 2015

by Amara - by amarasubs at February 26, 2015 03:28 PM


If you’re in NYC tomorrow afternoon, a member of the Amara team will be joining a discussion panel at 3:30 pm, at the NYU event Translation-Machination.

This event explores the changing circumstances of linguistic exchange and considers the implications of translation as a language technology from a media theoretical perspective.

It’s a free event and will no doubt spur some interesting conversation!

Event Time: February 27 1:00pm – 5:00pm EST
Event Location: 239 Greene Street, NY NY
Registration: (free) Bottom of this page.

February 25, 2015

by Amara - by pcfben at February 25, 2015 02:41 PM


There’s a ton of new API code that’s pretty much ready, but unfortunately it’s not quite live yet.  We just need to do a few more tests and then we will push it (hopefully like today or tomorrow).

The last endpoint I implemented was the users endpoint.  It went pretty smoothly.  The one notable thing was that I made the first non-backwards API change, which was to remove the user list as an API endpoint.  I couldn’t think of a reasonable use for browsing all the amara users, but please tell me if there is one.

The other notable change was in the browser endpoint view.  I added a checkbox for all optional fields when doing a POST/PUT.  By default it’s checked, but you can uncheck it to not send that field.

One thing that I always found very strange about APIv2 was how it treated several values: the absence of a field, the value being the empty string, the value being null, and the value the string “null”.  In some endpoints it would treat those things as being the same and others would treat them as distinct.  If you rely on that behavior, please test it out.


February 20, 2015

by Amara - by amarasubs at February 20, 2015 03:00 PM


Most orgs did 2014 wrap ups in the first week of January, but that gets a little overwhelming. We’re doing ours fashionably late instead – please enjoy!

Accessibility volunteers, making a difference for others

In 2014, we learned about, an amazing community of accessibility-minded folks who caption short videos for anyone who requests them. They are a friendly community, and are always looking for volunteers – visit the link above for info on getting involved and/or requesting captions.

@SubtitleYouTube has single handedly (double handedly?) captioned a LOT of videos during the year. It’s an inspiring effort, @SubtitleYouTube!

And of course Amara is home to some really neat accessibility groups as well, including the Captions Requested team as well as the Music Captioning team. Definitely worth a look.

Are there other volunteer accessibility communities we should point to? Please let us know!

Amara platform development in 2014

2014 was a HUGE year for Amara development! Here are a few highlights: Amara Editor and Embedder both went gold, the website speed and performance massively improved, we did a full integration with Vimeo. The improvements will continue in 2015!

Translation highlights from 2014

Volunteers rallied around Aaron Schwartz’s story, translating the feature film into over 12 languages and helping spread this imporant story worldwide.

Attitude Live, an amazing nonprofit organization, produces compelling stories about people living with disabilities. Their volunteer community translated an inspiring video about a woman named Maia Amai into 20 languages. The video tell’s Maia’s story, where she overcomes significant adversity to join the New Zealand wheelchair rugby team.

Another group of translators made Scientific American’s what happens when you die video available in over 24 languages (which has since gone very viral in Hungary!). Overall, we saw a LOT of fun and inspiring videos translated into all kinds of languages.

And every year we give a big shout out to the TED Open Translation Project, which continues to grow and evolve at an astonishing rate.

Do you have any inspiring translation stories we should be sharing? Please let us know!

Design in 2014: Websites, blog, and new tutorial video

We launched two beautiful new website designs: and Amara’s Professional Services Site, in addition to a cute and informative Meet Amara video. The Amara Blog also got a facelift and we’ve been posting there more regularly.

To sum it all up, we’re pumped about 2015! If you’ve been thinking about video accessibility or translation, please drop us a line (just reply to this email).

The Amara Team

Corrections: We mistook @SubtitleYoutube’s account name (though the link was correct).

February 18, 2015

by Amara - by pcfben at February 18, 2015 09:41 PM


This week I worked on one of the more complex API endpoints: the subtitles resource.  The reason for the complexity is the atypical output format.  Normally API endpoints return an object that’s encoded into JSON (or XML, YAML, or something similar).  The subtitles resource follows this pattern, but it also allows users to get the subtitles as straight DFXP, SRT, Web VTT, or any other format that we support.

This leads to a lot of weird corner cases, like what if the user requests DFXP, but there’s an error with the request.  There’s no way to encode that error as DFXP, so what to do?  In the new code I just used JSON as a fallback.  I think the old code did the same, but I’m not really sure.

Anyways, that endpoint is complete and live on production right now.  I’ve said this pretty much every week, but again if you write API code I urge you to check it out — especially in a browser.  One of the big wins from the API change is browsable API endpoints, and I it’s especially nice to use with the subtitles resource.  Try sending actions along with the subtitles to simulate a user hitting the publish/save draft/approve/send back buttons in the editor.  You can get to the subtitles API endpoints by starting with any video (<video-id&gt;).  Then following the links to to get to the subtitles.

Oh yeah, the API documentation should be building again.  There was an error from a change I made last week, but now it’s up-to-date again.  You can check it out at

February 16, 2015

by Amara - by amarasubs at February 16, 2015 07:28 PM

Screenshot of japanese site with Kon article

Satoshi Kon, acclaimed director, animator, screenplay writer, and  manga artist, made an impact on filmmakers around the world. In this video, YouTube channel Every Frame a Painting, dissects some of the unique techniques and ideas that Kon pioneered. The video also reviews specific points of influence Kon had in other filmmakers’ films.

Daily News Agency, a Japanese aggregator of news, tech, food, and media, featured the video (with Japanese subtitles) in this recent post.

Screenshot of japanese site with Kon articleAt Amara, it always excites us to see videos, such as this, shared across cultural contexts. We’ll continue to keep our eyes peeled and share anything that looks intriguing or neat.

What are Subtitles in the Wild?  We’ve been keeping an eye on popular videos with posted on the web with using the Amara embedder – when we see something interesting or exciting, we’ll share it.

An Important Note: Amara blog authors aren’t fluent in every language. If you see any factual errors, cultural faux pas, or have notes or other blog-related ideas to share, please let us know in the comments or at We love conversation!


February 10, 2015

by Amara - by pcfben at February 10, 2015 07:18 PM


Another week has rolled along, so it’s time to talk about the API update progress again.

This week I implemented the video language endpoint. It went a lot faster than the video endpoint since it was much simpler. In general, the coding is getting faster since the endpoints are getting simpler and also I’m getting more used to django rest factory. Combined with the fact that the other major project I’ve been working on is pretty much done, I expect things to really pick up starting this week.

Speaking of faster, I also did some work optimizing the various endpoints and hopefully made some big improvements. At least for the videos and video language endpoints, the number of DB queries has dropped substantially and I think this should make the API respond much quicker. Of course this needs to be tested in the wild, so if anyone does want to do a test with their workload I would be very interested to know the results.

Lastly, I started open up some tickets on our github tracker for future API changes.  The plan is still to avoid changes to the current interface for the refactor, so those tickets will not be getting implemented any time soon.  Still, if anyone has thoughts or if a change will be difficult to work around in your client code, please add a comment.

The changes have been merged to staging and are very close to being deployed to production. I’m expecting it to happen tomorrow.

DOIT Able Player

The University of Washington’s DOIT program (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) has a beautiful wealth of resources, videos, and programs aimed to help students, employers, and educators promote inclusion and success for people with disabilities.

The recently redesigned DOIT website includes resources for people with disabilities, such as scholarship opportunities, reading materials, and community directories. It also functions as a place for sharing and disseminating knowledge about how to make work, school, and other venues more inclusive – so anyone interested in accessibility can access best practices tailored to all kinds of situations. DOIT also hosts a video library, packed full of resources; this library includes a very robust (accessible) video player built in cooperation with a consortium of universities.

DOIT Able Player
We’re also proud to share news of the recently launched DOIT translation community on Amara, where volunteers can help translate their videos and share best practices for inclusion across the globe. DOIT has already become a hit in Japan, and hopes to act as a model for how accessibility can used to maximize the potential in everyone.

If you’re interested in making accessibility more global, we urge you to check out DOIT’s video translation effort: DOIT Amara team

February 09, 2015

by Amara - by amarasubs at February 09, 2015 11:25 PM

Screenshot of Emma Watson video embedded in

Late last year, at the United Nations, Emma Watson gave an impassioned speech about the launch of HeForShe, a project she’s spearheading along with UN Women. HeForShe calls for everyone to stand behind the concept of gender equality as a human rights issue. recently featured the Watson speech in a blog post and the video has been getting lots of views in Traditional Chinese. The site appears to be Chinese (possibly Taiwanese?) and has some focus on women’s issues.

Screenshot of Emma Watson video embedded in

At Amara, it always excites us to see videos, such as this, shared across cultural contexts. We’ll continue to keep our eyes peeled and share anything that looks intriguing or neat.

What are Subtitles in the Wild?  We’ve been keeping an eye on popular videos with posted on the web with using the Amara embedder – when we see something interesting or exciting, we’ll share it.

An Important Note: Amara blog authors aren’t fluent in every language. If you see any factual errors, cultural faux pas, or have notes or other blog-related ideas to share, please let us know in the comments or at We love conversation!

February 03, 2015

by Amara - by pcfben at February 03, 2015 06:17 PM


It’s been two weeks since I posted about starting work on the Amara API Refactor and I wanted to share the progress since then.

As usual, I underestimated the amount of work it would take.  Originally I was estimating 2-4 weeks of development time.  After 2 weeks, I can safely say that 4 weeks is the minimum amount of time and 6 is probably a better guess.

One of the things I didn’t realize would be so difficult is matching the old API exactly.  Things like the “meta” variable for paginated lists and making the input/output format selection all took longer than expected.  Hopefully I got it right, please tell me if there is a mismatch between the old output and the new.

With all of that said, there are a couple endpoints that have been implemented and the code was being deployed as I typed this out.  If you use the API, I would love for you to check out the new implementations.  One of the biggest improvements with the new API is the browser-friendly endpoints, so you should be able to navigate to the URLs in your browser and test them out.  Make sure you’re logged in to the site first and also make sure that any data you POST to the endpoints is really what you want.  Here’s the endpoints implemented so far:

Lastly, I’ve been putting in work to make sure the API docs are up-to-date and readable. contains a description of the new API. The sections are basically the same as before, but hopefully it’s a bit more clear.

January 30, 2015

by Amara - by amarasubs at January 30, 2015 12:03 AM

screenshot: CC button on video player

This guide shows how to instantly get a quote, plus purchase captions or translations for any video you’ve uploaded to Vimeo. This functionality is integrated directly into, for your convenience.

Step 1. Your Video Page

Ensure you’re logged in to Vimeo and then visit the video page (on Click the Settings button, then the Advanced button, and finally the Purchase button, as shown in this animation:

An animated image, showing video page, settings page, and advanced settings pages.


Step 2. Original Language

When you click the purchase button, you’ll be prompted for the spoken language in your video. In other words, if your video has English dialog, you would pick English on this first screen:

First screen of Vimeo purchase flow


Step 3. Captions or Translations

Next, you’ll decide if you just want original language captions (the option on the left) or captions with translations (the option on the right).

screenshot showing caption and translation buttons


Step 4. Services, Pricing Quote, Check Out

If you’re only purchasing captions, you’ll have a variety of service levels to pick from. You can use the Amara Editor for polishing up the final output.

If you’re purchasing translations, we’ll automatically pick the best captions possible, which is how we ensure the highest quality of translation.

Once you’ve made your quality and/or language selections, you can see the total price in the sidebar. Click the Check out button to finalize your purchase.

check out button

Step 5. Work in Progress

The work is started immediately, plus you should get an email confirmation. As soon as work is finished, you’ll get another email notification. The delivery time will depend on the length of your video, plus the services you chose.

Work in progress screenshot

Step 6. Enabling Captions & Translations

Once work is finished, you can enable the subtitles via the same Advanced Settings page for your video. Check the box on the left to enable the subtitles.

screenshot: enable subtitles area

Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this page and click the Save Changes button!

screenshot: save changes button

Note: If you requested to review finished captions, before they are sent to Amara for translation, you’ll do that in this area as well – just follow the prompts.

Step 7. Viewing Your Captions & Translations

Once you’ve got subtitle tracks enabled, go to your video page and you should see a CC logo on the bottom right corner of the video.

Viewers simply click the CC logo to access available languages.

screenshot: CC button on video player

January 22, 2015

by Amara - by amarasubs at January 22, 2015 02:14 PM


Here’s an impressive example of someone stepping up, advocating for what is right, and then following through in a major way. Tyler Oakley, a relatively popular YouTube creator who is best known for LGBT advocacy, posted this video a few days ago – you really have to watch:

January 21, 2015

by Amara - by Dean at January 21, 2015 03:30 PM


In 2014, we focused on developing the Amara platform (making it faster and even more user friendly), building partnerships, and gaining long-term sustainability.  In 2015, in addition to continuing this work,  we also want to foster greater connections amongst online translation and accessibility communities. We’re starting with this new sub-blog: Community, Accessibility & Translation (aka CAT) – our goal with this space is to explore the values, communities, and issues that drive our work.

Amara attracts a uniquely diverse group of users, and we hope to reflect that uniqueness in this blog. We want to highlight the people who are making a difference, like Dawn, at iheartsubtitles, who is urging creators and producers to budget caption costs into their productions. We’d like to cross-pollinate with other large communities, for instance, the TED Open Translation Project community has published some great tips on language acquisition.

We’re also excited to spread awareness around groups like /r/CaptionsPlease on Reddit, a community of volunteers who help make specific videos accessible, upon request. These are just a few examples of a growing community of allies who are sharing best practices, advocating for a more inclusive world, and working to make the web a better place.

We’ll be doing plenty of writing here. More importantly, we will soon be inviting guest/cross posts as well. If you have any thoughts, ideas, or feedback you’d like to share, please get in touch:

January 20, 2015

by Amara - by pcfben at January 20, 2015 03:49 PM


The Amara API is going to be going through some exciting changes in the near future.  I’d like to take this opportunity to explain the reasons behind the change and discuss what it means for people who interact with the Amara API.

First off, let me say that there are no plans to change how the API endpoints themselves work in the short term.  All of the current endpoints will stay around and there are no plans to change the interfaces.  We are planning a small change to the URLs, but  that’s it and there will be a transition period when both the old and new URLs work.

So what is changing?

First off, we’re going to be doing a refactor of the code for several reasons:

  • We want to clean up the API code that we’ve written, which could definitely use it.
  • We want to switch from an old version of tastypie to django-rest-framework.  This has the nice benefit of providing browser-friendly endpoints.  They’re pretty awesome for exploring and debugging the API.
  • We want to move most of the API to our public repository

Like I said, this will only be a refactor.  All current functionality should still stay the same.  That said, it’s going to be a somewhat large code change.  If you have client code that interacts with our API, I would definitely recommend testing it with our new code during the transitional period.

The other thing that’s going to happen is a switch to how we handle changes to the API.  Right now we use a versioning system, where the version is included in the API URL (the /api2/ prefix).

This system isn’t really working well.  First off there are semantic issues with including the version in the URL.  But the main issue is it doesn’t fit in with the way we work on amara which is based on agile, iterative development.  It’s much better for us to make small, incremental changes, then to try to save them all up and then make a huge API change with a new version.  In fact, we have made several small changes like this to the API in the last few months and kept the API version the same.

What we’d like to switch to is a system where the API URLs don’t include a version.  Instead of we will use something like  Under the new system, it should be expected that small changes will happen over time.  To make changes as least painful as possible, we will provide tools to help API client manage them:

  • We have created the Amara API Changes email list to communicate API changes.  Whenever we are planning to make one, we will announce it on our blog, announce the date when it will happen, and send an out an email to the list.
  • Before the switchover date, we will return an HTTP header to indicate that the API will be changing.  The name will be X-API-DEPRECATED and the value will be the switchover date in YYYYMMDD format.
  • Clients can start using the new API before the switchover date using the X-API-FUTURE header.  The value should be the date of the API that you want to use, also in YYYYMMDD format.  If the X-API-FUTURE date is >= the switchover date then the new API code will be used.  If this date is in the past it will be ignored.

When will this all happen?  This isn’t set in stone right now, but I think this will be the rough schedule:

  • 2-4 weeks to implement the new API endpoints using the new URLs:  At this point users can try testing their clients against the new API code.  We will send an email and post to our blog as we implement endpoints.
  • 2 week early transition period:  At this point the new URLs will all be implemented and you are encourage to switch your client code over to using them.  The old URLs will continue to work as usual
  • New world order: after the transition period the old URLs will redirect to the new ones.

January 15, 2015

by Amara - by janetpcf at January 15, 2015 09:10 AM


Curious about how effective your crowd translations are? Wondering about your top languages or the diversity of your team? Amara’s enterprise teams, will now show you all the answers.



The new stats graphs can be found on the Activities tab of your team.


Fixes and features deployed to Amara:

  • UI adjustments for team activity stats (video tab) #1937 opened 8 days ago by syl22-00
  • UI adjustments for team activity stats (team tab) status 4 merged-to-staging #1936
  • Compute team activity statistics as task status 4 merged-to-staging #1935
  • Better looking page for 403 errors status 4 merged-to-staging #1933
  • Link to setup language profile on team dashboard is broken #1923
  • Do not allow unauthenticated users to submit videos #1902
  • YT quota limit prevents subs from being sent to YouTube #1858

December 16, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at December 16, 2014 07:03 PM


Amara users have probably noticed some serious speed improvements over the past month.   Average page load time has been halved, and some specific pages have seen even more dramatic improvements.  Today we’ve deployed another set of changes which mainly affect the video pages.

Here’s a quick summary of the features and fixes added to Amara in the past month:


  • Cache Video/Language pages better #1839
  • Refactor Video titles #1463
  • Speed up queries for the Action model #1473
  • Speed up teams activity page load time #1517
  • Improve performance for the team activity page #1266
  • Move videos page is slow #1837
  • Speedup admin pages that have a user field #1845
  • Stop counting video views #1879

And all the rest

  • Show the primary-audio language in the tasks list display #1580
  • Add ability to send custom message when a member joins the team #829
  • List of reference languages not displayed in the editor when subtitling into primary language #1821
  • Allow private versions to be selected in the reference language area #1893
  • Editor does not display reference language selector when original language is missing #1868
  • Add cal academy to communities page #1891
  • Outdated text on Account page #1887
  • Clicking Complete did not mark subtitles as complete #1752
  • Subtitles fail to save from new editor if user has non-ascii characters in username #919
  • Use API authentication for downloading subtitles #1876
  • Respect line breaks when uploading from TXT files #1764
  • Rename ‘pan’ to Panjabi #1436
  • Add Upper Sorbian, Lower Sorbian languages #1855
  • Broken link in email notification about reviewer’s note #1846
  • Line breaks in subtitle lines not displayed on diffing page #873
  • Add languages parameter to API User resource #989
  • Return the user languages in the API Language field #1491
  • Logout redirect page is wrong #1838
  • Featured link in footer broken #1843

December 03, 2014

by Amara - by amarasubs at December 03, 2014 06:09 PM

Animation of dragging Amara + Amazon link to bookmark bar

Amara has come a long way in the past 4 years, growing from a humble prototype into a powerful open platform! Today, Amara is used by millions to create, share, and view captions and subtitles — making it possible for more people to engage, participate, and benefit from all of the amazing content online.

Developed and maintained by the Participatory Culture Foundation (PCF), a non-profit ( 501c3) organization, Amara is built by a small team of individuals who share the belief that everyone deserves to communicate globally, with full access to the richest media on the web.

If you’re an Amazon shopper, especially if you’re doing holiday shopping, you can support Amara with each purchase you make. Simply bookmark the link below and use it any time you browse or buy on Amazon. A portion of each purchase will go to PCF, which ultimately helps us keep Amara going.

Automatic Option (easy!): Install browser plugin (Firefox or Chrome) and then visit this link one time – now all purchases will always benefit Amara.

Bookmark Option: Drag this link to your bookmark toolbar: Amazon + Amara

Animation of dragging Amara + Amazon link to bookmark  bar

November 04, 2014

by Amara - by darrenb73 at November 04, 2014 03:03 PM

Mary Beth Strawn in Jamaica

Each month we are spotlighting two of our team members so we can get to know each other a bit better, and recognize their individual contributions to Amara’s mission.

This month’s spotlight is on Mary Beth Strawn and Sebastião Nascimento! We caught up with them to hear about their favorite videos they’ve worked on, what’s happening in their lives right now, and what motivates them at Amara.

Sebastião Nascimento

What I cherish most about Amara is that there are constant opportunities for learning about fascinating people and captivating projects, whether we are dealing with architecture, culinary, music, cinema, radical sports, design, programming, you name it. Some videos are so exciting we just hope a sequel will pop up anytime on our task list, like that one documenting Fela Kuti’s candidacy for president of Nigeria, or the one tracking the thorough decomposition of one of Ryan Heffington’s choreographies into its most basic elements, or that one celebrating Reggae’s influence in the pioneering development of video game music.

Looking back, many of the most captivating videos are themselves the result of a creative field generated by the reciprocal influence between cultures. And that is precisely what I consider to be Amara’s most valuable asset: the scope of life’s experience of its translators stretching across so many cultures. Working within the Amara community we are constantly in touch with people who are passionate about languages and diversity, traveling and learning, people who instead of feeling torn between places, choose to turn their lives into bridges connecting other people, and not shying away from the efforts needed to make the allure of plurality transparent and accessible to others. Friends and people we admire may have brought us here to Amara, but then we come to admire the people we work with and they also become friends. What we do and the kind of people we become while doing it is what makes this so interesting and stimulating.




Mary Beth Strewn

Hello everyone! I’m Mary Beth. I live in Boquete, Panamá, in the western mountain region near Costa Rica.

Some unique things about me are… I’m pregnant with my first child. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time! I work for a Spanish school helping people plan their trips to Panama for a Spanish learning experience. I grew up in Georgia, USA.

I’ve subtitled for Amara for about 8 months now and I have to say that I really enjoy working with our team and producing quality content for clients, who I know appreciate it. A recent project I enjoyed is one where Tracey B. and I worked on a difficult video for a scrutinizing client. Although it was a bit of a frustrating task overall, I am appreciative of the teamwork that went into it and the new understandings I have for some of our guidelines.

I’ve enjoyed working with a few of the videos for an arts-related client. They always focus on interesting topics such as cooking, fashion, photography and art. Art is universal, so I love that we are able to help the client translate these videos into multiple languages for the viewing pleasure of thousands (millions?) of people.


Mary Beth Strawn in Jamaica

October 17, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at October 17, 2014 07:45 PM

Screenshot from 2014-10-17 21:43:12

Updates to 2014-10-17

Screenshot from 2014-10-17 21:43:12


  • New Amara homepage #1229
  • Speedup team activity page #1781 (pr)
  • Space between sendback and approve buttons #1780
  • At Typing step, display warning if any empty subtitles block syncing #1763
  • Change VideoUrl uniqueness to (url, type) #1750
  • Allow overriding subtitle editor video URL #1748
  • Properly refuse to log in users with no password #1745
  • Integrate notes more seamlessly into editor #1739

September 15, 2014

by Amara - by janetpcf at September 15, 2014 08:28 PM


Highlights from our latest deploy

Editor notes

Users can now add notes in the editor as they are working on subtitles.  Useful as a simple reminder to self, or a way to pass on information to others who may edit later.  These changes are specific to the current editor and are not implemented in the legacy editor.

Broadcasting video specific messages for task teams

For enterprise teams that use tasks, making a