Encoding API for Co-Creation Stage


Please contact Thomas Röggla for more information about this tool.


All code and documentation is licensed by the original authors and contributors under the BSD-2-Clause license.


The Encoding API for Co-Creation Stage is a self-contained Express application for uploading media files to AWS S3 and starting Elastic Transcoder encoding jobs. This is a self-contained version of the API found in the Co-Creation Space and can be deployed with a minimal amount of dependencies



In order to run the application, a JSON file containing AWS credentials called aws.json needs to be placed in the application root. The file must have the following structure:

  "accessKeyId": "[YOUR_ACCESS_KEY]",
  "secretAccessKey": "[YOUR_SECRET_KEY]",
  "region": "[AWS_REGION]"

Further, the file .env-sample needs to be renamed to .env and the following values need to be filled in:

  • SESSION_SECRET a string of random characters that is used to sign the JSON Web Tokens
  • BUCKET_NAME the name of the S3 bucket that the files should be uploaded to
  • ETS_PIPELINE the ID of the Elastic Transcoder pipeline used to transcode uploaded media files. NB: Make sure to supply the ID of the pipeline and not the name

Development Builds

For development, make sure you have docker, node and yarn installed. Build and start the container as such:

docker compose build
docker compose up -d

Because the application bundle is mounted inside the container from the host machine, it needs to be built as well. This is done as follows:

yarn install
yarn build

After any change to the code, yarn build needs to be run in order to refresh the compiled bundle. Also docker compose restart web should be run to ensure the application is restarted using the new bundle.

The application itself is now available on port 3001.

Production Builds

There is a separate Docker Compose config file for production environments named docker-compose.production.yml. This does not require compiling the bundle locally and is thus ideal for deployment environments or if there is no intention of changing the code. To build such a production image, invoke Docker Compose as such:

docker compose -f docker-compose.production.yml build
docker compose -f docker-compose.production.yml up -d

This image is completely self-contained (except for .env and aws.json) and can also easily be deployed in a Docker Swarm environment.

Adding User Accounts

The application uses SQLite to manage user accounts. Initially, the database is empty, but new user accounts can be added using the script register.js.

In order to run this script, ensure the container is running and invoke the following command from the command line:

docker compose exec web yarn register

The script will ask for a new username and a password. The selected values are inserted into the database and can then be used to log into the API and obtain a JSON Web Token for all further calls. The obtained token is valid for 60 days.

NB: The script will fail if the chosen username already exists, i.e. usernames must be unique.

Custom Encoding Presets

By default, the application supports the resolutions 720p, 480p, 360p and 240p. One can, however, add custom encoding presets by creating them in the Transcoder preset config menu on AWS and adding their preset IDs to a file named presets.json in the application root. A sample file with custom presets named presets.json-sample is provided.

The file contains a JSON dictionary, with the keys being unique, descriptive names, e.g. denoting the resolution that the preset produces. Each key is associated to its corresponding preset ID.

Once added, the application should be restarted. The availability of the custom presets can be verified by calling GET /api/upload/encode/resolutions.

API Documentation

The following sections document each of the API endpoints that the application supplies in order to facilitate media upload and encoding. This documentation can also be used as a specification to implement alternative APIs, e.g. ones that do not rely on external cloud services.

NB: The Content-Type header of requests which send data should be set to application/json to ensure that the request is interpreted quickly. This does not apply to /api/upload/raw.

Please refer to the script example.py, which illustrates a sample interaction with the API, including login, file upload, starting of a transcoding job, checking of job status and finally deleting the originally uploaded file. In order to run the script, the package requests has to be installed.

Obtaining a Token

In order to interact with the API, the caller is required to supply a JSON Web Token along with each request. This token can be obtained by calling the route /api/login with a valid user account. Refer to the previous section on how to add new user accounts. The endpoint expects the parameters username and password inside a JSON dictionary in the body of the request:

POST /api/login
Content-Type: application/json

{ "username": "test", "password": "test" }

Upon successful login, the API returns a JSON dictionary containing the keys _id, username and token. The value of token should then be used to authenticate requests to any other endpoint.

Uploading a File

The endpoint /api/upload/raw serves to upload files to the associated S3 bucket. The file should be submitted in the body of a multipart/form-data request under the key file. Also take note of the presence of the previously obtained token in the Authorization header.

POST /api/upload/raw
Authorization: Bearer [TOKEN]
Content-Type: multipart/form-data; charset=utf-8; boundary=__BOUNDARY__

Content-Disposition: form-data; name="file"; filename="example.mp4"


A request like this can be executed in curl as such:

curl -v -XPOST --header "Authorization: Bearer [TOKEN]" -F file=@[PATH_TO_FILE] http://example.com/api/upload/raw

Upon success, the call with return a JSON dictionary containing the path to the newly uploaded file under the key name.

Deleting Uploaded Files

Previously uploaded files can be deleted by calling /api/upload/raw with the verb HTTP DELETE, supplying the path to the file to be deleted under the key key in the JSON request body.

DELETE /api/upload/raw
Authorization: Bearer [TOKEN]
Content-Type: application/json

{ "key": "[PATH_TO_FILE_ON_S3]" }

Retrieving Available Resolutions

The endpoint for starting new transcoding jobs offers a parameter which allows one to specify the desired output resolutions. This endpoint allows the caller to retrieve a list of available output resolutions. The resolutions 720p, 480p, 360p and 240p are always available. Also refer to the section about adding custom presets for more information.

GET /api/upload/encode/resolutions
Authorization: Bearer [TOKEN]

A JSON data structure with the key resolutions is returned which contains a list of supported resolutions for the transcoding job.

Starting a Transcoding Job

In order to start a DASH transcoding job for an uploaded video or audio file, a request to the endpoint /api/upload/encode has to be made. The endpoint expects the key input containing the path to the file to be encoded in the JSON body of the request.

Optionally, a list of desired output resolutions can be submitted as an array. A list of available resolutions can be retrieved by calling the endpoint /api/upload/encode/resolutions. If the parameter is omitted, the file is encoded to 720p, 480p and 360p by default.

Also note, if a video file which does not contain an audio track is to be encoded, the option hasAudio set to false has to be passed in the request body. Otherwise the encoding will fail. If omitted, hasAudio defaults to true.

POST /api/upload/encode
Authorization: Bearer [TOKEN]
Content-Type: application/json

{ "input": "[PATH_TO_FILE_ON_S3]", "resolutions": ["1080p", "360p"] }

If an unknown resolution is passed, it will be ignored. Upon success, the response will contain the job ID of the newly started transcoding job under the key jobId in the JSON response body.

Checking Transcoding Job Status

To check the status of a started transcoding job, the API supplies the endpoint /api/upload/encode/status/:jobId, where :jobID is the job ID of a transcoding job.

GET /api/upload/encode/status/[JOB_ID]
Authorization: Bearer [TOKEN]

The request will return the current status of the transcoding job with the specified ID. The key jobStatus will contain one of Submitted, Progressing, Complete, Canceled or Error. If the value of jobStatus is equal to Complete, the response will also contain the key manifest, which contains the path to the DASH manifest that can be used to play back the encoded media file.