A Problem for Shashin – Picasa Video URLs Now Expire
Sometime over the past month, Picasa made an unannounced change to how it serves videos. Previously, the Picasa RSS feeds provided URLs for videos, and those URLs worked indefinitely. Now the URLs in the RSS feeds expire after 11 hours. So if you add a video to a Picasa album, then sync the album in Shashin, it’ll work fine for 11 hours, and then it won’t work anymore. To make matters worse, re-syncing the album won’t help – Shashin doesn’t check the feed for a URL change when deciding whether to update its records, since the URLs used to never change (Shashin doesn’t just blindly update all its records when sync’ing; it checks certain fields, and then updates only if one of them changes, in order to keep sync’ing relatively fast).
The expiration time is built-in to the new video URLs, and the videos won’t play after that time passes, even if you’re logged in to Picasa. This leads me to believe that using the Picasa API wouldn’t help (even the code used to display the videos on Picasa’s own pages expires). There’s also a signature key built-in to the URL, so there’s no simple hack to the URL that’ll make it last longer.
The ability to embed videos in your own site was never a documented Picasa feature, so I really don’t have grounds to complain. But I made it a feature of Shashin, so my users do 😉 .
I’m traveling over the holidays, but I will try to get a fix released before New Year’s. The only solution I can think of is to change Shashin’s automatic once per day sync’ing feature so that it will sync every 10 hours (an hour before the expiration, to be safe). That way you’ll always have a fresh URL for embedded videos. This won’t be the major new release I’ve mentioned before – it’ll just be a fix for this and a few other minor bugs.
Note: videos added to Shashin more than a month ago still work fine, at least for now. The “old style” URLs in Shashin are still working, and – like I said – they don’t get updated when you sync. It’s only videos you may have added to Shashin within the past month that will give you a problem.