Third-Party Video Hosting on Drupal Websites

7 min read

Third-Party Video Providers

Many sites desiring video will choose to use a third-party video provider such as YouTube or Blip.TV. This reduces the bandwidth requirement from their server, is easy to include in their posts, and allows videos to be easily shared virtually by users across the Internet.

The easiest way, without further configuration of a basic Drupal installation, for an administrator to include a third-party video is to simply paste the video’s embedded code in a post. Most video providers will offer a snippet of HTML that may be copied from a particular video page, which will embed the video.

However, this requires using a filter that will allow <object>, <embed>, and <param> tags. But since they open the door to attacks on the site, they should only be used by administrators and trusted editors. You could also use the Full HTML filter, but this is even more dangerous as allowing that filter to be generally used would open the site to cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.

First, you’ll need to set up a filter that allows the tags. Add an input format at Administer | Site configuration | Input formats (at /admin/settings/filters/add). After naming the filter, check the role(s) you wish to give access to this filter such as edit role. Check HTML corrector, HTML filter, and Line break converter. After pressing Save configuration, click on the Configure tab.

Using YouTube as an example, an administrator would first need to upload a video to YouTube. This will require an account at YouTube, but they make it fairly painless for a user to jump in and contribute videos. You’ll just need to follow their instructions:

Third-Party Video Hosting on Drupal Websites

Once you have a video there, you will find the embedded code on the video page. You will need to click in the text field where that is provided, and copy the HTML for pasting on your own page:

Third-Party Video Hosting on Drupal Websites

Next you will submit a node on your site such as from Node | Add | Page (at /node/add/page), and paste the embed code in the body for the node. You will need to enable either the new filter created earlier or Full HTML, as the embedded code will contain object and/or embedded tags, which would be filtered out by the default filter in Drupal.

If you want editors to have the ability to select their filter, you will need to enable that ability for a role, and possibly set up a new filter depending on your needs. Also note that you will need to disable the TinyMCE Rich Text Editor when embedding video directly into content if the TinyMCE module is enabled on your site.

After submitting, your video will appear in the content. As with any HTML embedded in your node body, you may manually place your video at any point within the content such as after the second paragraph or at the end of the node: Embedded

Third-Party Video Hosting on Drupal Websites

Embedded Media Field

Finally, we come to the alternative of hosting video from our own servers. Although using a module such as Media Mover combined with services such as Amazon S3 makes serving video a slightly easier task than it might have otherwise been, for most sites the bandwidth required for serving video is generally not a viable option. Additionally, sites may wish to take advantage of the viral opportunities of hosting video through a widely recognized provider such as YouTube or Blip.TV.

There are several modules that provide some limited support for embedding third-party media, including both the Video and Asset modules. However, at the time of this writing, the most comprehensive and by far the easiest to configure and use is the Embedded Media Field, which includes the Embedded Video Field as part of its package.

Install both of these modules and set up a new content type with an Embedded Video Field. You will need, of course, to have the CCK (Content) module installed as well. As with our other examples, you will first add your type from Administer | Content management | Content types | Add content type (at /admin/content/types/add), give it a name such as Video, and add the field from Administer | Content management | Content types | Video | Add field (at /admin/content/node-type/video/add_field).

Before continuing, I must confess a bias here. I wrote the original Embedded Media Field module with assistance from Sam Tresler during DrupalCamp NYC in 2007, and rewrote it for a more solid and flexible API during OSCMS later that year. I am also indebted to Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg for his assistance in the ongoing maintenance and support.

Third-Party Video Hosting on Drupal Websites

Without doing anything else, you may now add a new video from a provider by simply pasting its URL into the field. The module will then automatically parse and display the video appropriately.

There are several settings on the following page that may be set, including allowed providers, video and thumbnail sizes, and whether the video plays automatically.

You may leave the providers alone to allow content from any of them, or select only the providers you wish to allow editors and users to use

Third-Party Video Hosting on Drupal Websites

The local checkbox is experimental at the time of this writing and may not actually be on the version you’re reading. The module maintainers (myself included, of course) intend to hook into other APIs to provide better local video support without reinventing the wheel. That may or may not be ready by the time you read this book.

The Custom URL provider is also used to experimentally support direct videos from any source available from an HTTP request, including your local server. It is not recommended for general use, as it would be easy to use that to unethically hotlink to videos from someone else’s server. Hundreds of flying monkeys will hunt you down if you do that. Basically, always turn off support for that unless you have a specific (and moral) use for that feature.

You can set video sizes in the next sections for full size and preview size video display. By default, videos will be displayed in full size. You can change the display to video preview or thumbnail at the display settings page, by browsing to Administer | Content management | Content types | Video | Display fields (at /admin/content/node-type/video/display).

Videos will be forced to display at the size provided here, regardless of how they are offered by the provider. You can also determine if the video will autoplay or not. For instance, you might use a small video preview for teasers and a larger full-size video when viewing the node page, turning on the autoplay in that case.

Third-Party Video Hosting on Drupal Websites

Finally, you may wish to use thumbnails, for instance when displaying a video as a teaser or when using views. Note that thumbnails are not yet supported for all video providers. Some providers do not offer an easy API to discover a particular video’s thumbnail file.

Third-Party Video Hosting on Drupal Websites

To learn if thumbnails are supported by a particular provider, go to Administer | Content management | Embedded Media Field Configuration (at /admin/content/emfield) and open the fieldset for Embedded Video Field. You will see the supported features for each provider within their particular fieldsets, where you may also disable them or enable unique settings.

Third-Party Video Hosting on Drupal Websites

You may wish to provide for custom thumbnails, whether for providers lacking an automatic thumbnail or for any external video in general. For this purpose, the Embedded Custom Thumbnail module is included in the module’s package. Just enable that module, and then check the Allow custom thumbnails for this field box on the type’s administration screen

Third-Party Video Hosting on Drupal Websites

We now have a full-featured video field in place, which is as easy to use as cut and paste.

Third-Party Video Hosting on Drupal Websites
Third-Party Video Hosting on Drupal Websites


Video is still a maturing media on the Internet. Much has happened as it has exploded onto sites across the world, and contributors to Drupal have made recent strides in supporting it. However, there is still much to be done to make it easier for administrators to support it. Also, although there are many new and traditional tools available such as Views and Embedded Media Field, these still require some setup to get working.


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