TL; DR: Transloadit’s media processing services empower developers to automate tasks like video encoding, image manipulation, and file compression, among many others. The company’s open-source projects, Uppy and tus, are transforming the way users handle file uploads, while its proprietary product offers one tool for all file processing needs. Through continuous development, Transloadit strives to stay one step ahead of competitors in a highly saturated market.
Life as a developer isn’t particularly easy. Most programmers spend the majority of their time stuck between four walls, staring at a computer screen in relative isolation. At the same time, they’re expected to keep their skills sharp to meet tight deadlines, keep up with trends, and overcome challenges.
In this high-stress environment, all-in-one software products are a welcoming sight. By reducing complexity, these tools improve operational efficiency and eliminate the pressure to multitask.
That’s why the folks at Transloadit designed their media processing service to handle audio, documents, images, video, and more via one central, versatile hub. The result is reduced developer workloads and better server capacity.
“We’re all about getting developers from point A to point B easily and with as many integrations as possible,” said Charlie Macnamara, Technical Writer and Support Engineer at Transloadit.
To keep things simple, Transloadit groups its features into small units, called Robots, which can be combined to create unique automated workflows. With Robots, developers can focus on the documentation they need and skip the rest, making it easier to get through the day.
“We have over 52 Robots, which all have high-speed parameters and can handle a large variety of tasks,” Charlie said.
For ease of use, Robots can be segmented into groups called Assemblies that mimic an assembly line.
Transloadit also provides open-source tools, including tus, a protocol for resumable file uploads, and Uppy, a modular file uploader. Between its proprietary and open-source solutions, the company has encoded 15 petabytes — which equates to 15 million gigabytes — in a little over a decade.
Workflow Automation Tailored to the Developer
Transloadit’s roots go back to 2008 when Tim Koschützki and Felix Geisendörfer founded Debuggable, a web consultancy company in Berlin. At the time, Tim and Felix were also contributing to the open-source development framework CakePHP. Six months later, they met fellow open-source contributor Kevin van Zonneveld, who was working from Amsterdam on a project known as Locutus.
Six months later, in 2009, the trio joined forces on what would officially become Transloadit in June 2012 (Felix has since left the company to work for Apple). The uploading and processing software for file servers was designed to be secure, robust, performant, and versatile.
Today, the Transloadit team includes 18 remote individuals who work tirelessly to ensure the satisfaction of its customers. The company now serves some of the most recognizable brands on the globe, including The New York Times and the massive open online course (MOOC) provider Coursera.
In August 2019, GitHub announced a partnership with Transloadit to provide a free Startup Plan to students through the GitHub Student Developer Pack.
Over the years, the company’s open-source development background led to the creation of a firmly developer-centric product.
“We are less focused on fancy video effects and more concerned with helping developers get the job done,” Charlie said. “We offer significantly more SDKs than any of the other alternatives for all the mainstage languages. We also have full Zapier and Heroku integration.”
In addition, Transloadit has its own content delivery network (CDN), a geographically distributed system of proxy servers that reduces delays by reducing the physical distance between the user and the server.
Changing the Game Through Open-Source Contributions
“Uppy, one of our software development kits, is the most commonly used file uploader in the world,” Charlie said. “It features native integration with Transloadit so you can interface with your templates and assemblies as well as communicate with third-party companion apps like Dropbox. There’s a great amount of versatility right there.”
Tus, on the other hand, allows users to resume uploads after accidental or intentional disruptions and continue where the upload was stopped — even after a few days. The project is built upon the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and can be used on browsers, desktops, and mobile devices. It was the industry’s first stab at an open-source program for resumable file uploads, and it’s taken off ever since.
“Vimeo has adopted tus in 2019,” Charlie said. “It’s driving all of their video uploads.”
Tus is an ideal open-source solution for developers who operate on unreliable networks and handle large files. It can also be used to provide application users with the ability to pause and resume an upload.
Developers who aren’t interested in hosting their own tus server can turn to Transloadit’s tus-based upload handling service as an alternative solution.
Continuous Development to Ensure Speed and Ease of Use
Transloadit’s team of developers are frequently busy ironing out kinks to make sure the software runs smoothly at all times. They spend another chunk of time responding to specific feature requests. For example, Transloadit’s recent integration with Vimeo is a product of feedback from an enterprise customer.
The company is always looking for ways to ensure Transloadit offers an intuitive user experience.
“We’ve been working on a visual template editor for the last couple of months, and you don’t even need to understand basic JSON logic,” Charlie told us. “It’s a simple drag and drop. Our goal is to put that in the hands of as many people as possible, even if they don’t know much about tech, to quickly transload some videos.”
Charlie said it’s a challenge to battle it out in such a crowded market, so the company is always looking to stay one step ahead of its competitors.
“One of the things we recently have developed is a feature called Turbo mode for video encoding, which, instead of encoding an entire file at once, breaks it up into several chunks, which are all transcoded in parallel on Transloadit’s many servers. Then it stitches the transcoded segments back together, providing a much faster speed than if you were to use traditional encoding.”
There are some features that the company intentionally omits — such as artists’ tools for editing files — to focus on other, more developer-centric features.
“For example, if you want to turn a piece of an image from blue to pink, those aren’t features that we currently have,” Charlie said. “We’re not trying to prioritize those types of features.”
A Global Company with a Mastery of Remote Teamwork
Transloadit is such a globally distributed company that it could almost serve as a case study for effective remote teamwork. To this day, every one of the company’s employees works remotely.
“We’re all spread across the globe,” Charlie said. “I’m located in Scotland, and I’m the only person from the UK. We’ve got people from Russia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Algeria, Nigeria, the United States, the UK, and Germany. We’re fortunate to have been in a remote environment long before COVID-19. So it’s just like another day in the office for us.”
The team builds camaraderie via yearly in-person meetups (which have been put on hold due to the virus) as well as lighthearted virtual events.
“Every Friday, we try to do a gaming evening,” Charlie said. “It’s great. We get food ordered in and just hang out for a little while.”