System Requirements | Alexander Street

System Requirements

What are the system requirements?

This product is tested in the current and previous version of the following browsers and plugins:

  • Windows: Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome
  • Mac OS X: Safari, Firefox and Google Chrome

Note: Adobe does not offer the plugin required to view .PDF files in a web browser for Firefox. Adobe Reader plugin is only available for Safari. However, users will be able to download .PDF files to their computer using Firefox. For best performance, Adobe Reader 10 is recommended in order to view PDFs. Audio and video resources are accessible with Adobe Flash Player 9 or higher.

What is the quality of the streaming video content?

Alexander Street offers video and audio streaming at three different bitrates.

For video:

  • Low: is streamed at 400 kilobits per second
  • Standard: video is streamed at 800 kilobits per second
  • High: video is streamed at 2500 kilobits per second

For audio:

  • Low: is streamed at 64 kilobits per second
  • Standard: is streamed at 128 kilobits per second
  • High: video is streamed at 320 kilobits per second

Alexander Street now use JWPlayer which automatically determines the most appropriate streaming rate for a user based on their bandwidth. Users can no longer select the bitrate of their streaming as this is done automatically by the player.

Calculation is based upon the number of frames dropped per second - the player always tries to play the highest quality file at all times. Should the stream drop more than 25% of the frames needed to be streamed per second, the player determines that the available bandwidth for that user is not sufficient to support the current bit rate and automatically drops the user down to the next level of quality.

If no frames are dropped for a certain time, the player will try to move the user up to the next level of quality to check if they are able to sustain the higher rate. If they can't, the player will drop them down again.

Encoding and quality

Media playback requires your computer to 'stream' the media files. This is where a file is sent from our servers to your computer bit-by-bit. The file is temporary, meaning that you are not downloading a copy to keep. In order to achieve this, we encode 3 versions of each video at separate bit-rates. The 'bit-rate' is the amount of data we send to your computer each second. The higher the bitrate, the higher the quality, and the greater the bandwidth that is required.

Can I use Boolean operators?

Boolean searches using OR and NOT will not return appropriate results. The default operator is AND, and all searches will return as though they were ANDed. Wildcarding by adding an asterisk to your search term is also currently unavailable.

How do I view content with the video player?

Our video player is designed to provide an optimal viewing experience while also allowing for further searching, browsing and editing within the content itself. You can find a video tutorial about the video player here

Full-screen mode

The square in the upper-right hand corner of the video will launch the full-screen video player. In this view, you can play/pause, rewind/fast-forward via the timeline and change the volume. You may at any time escape full-screen mode by hitting escape or clicking the box in the upper-right.

Standard-screen mode

In the standard view, we have a full-featured toolbar that sits below the video allowing you to manipulate the video in a number of ways.

You can play/pause, rewind/fast-forward, jump back 30 seconds and change the volume via the buttons in the bottom left. You may also rewind/fast-forward via the timeline. When doing so, your current location in the video will be timestamped with a green flag, while the location you would like to move to in the video will be indicated with a red flag. The current timestamp and full length of the film are indicated in bottom right, just next to the timeline.

Drop-down Windows

Immediately to the right of the video window are a set of drop-down windows providing further information. These windows include details (abstract and bibliographic details), Tracks (from the original video source), Clips (User and ASP generated short clips), Transcripts, Thumbnails, and Apps. Not all windows may be available for all titles.

Clicking on any one of the windows will open it to reveal its contents.

Immediately below the video window is a text box, allowing full searching of the details and transcript associated with this video.


This section reveals an abstract and as much bibliographic information as is available about this title. Select terms within the details are highlighted. Clicking these will take you to the browse page associated with this term.


The transcript is synchronized with the video and will highlight text spoken as the video plays. It will also by default scroll along with the video. To turn off this feature, simply click the box [IN THE UPPER RIGHT...CAN'T SEE ANY TRANSCRIPTS YET]. At any time, you may also click a section within the transcript to skip forward or back within the corresponding video.


Tracks indicates any video tracks or chapters available on the original source material. Many titles will only have a single track. The title and length of the track are indicated, as are three blue buttons to the left. These, in order, allow you to play the video track, embed the video track in your website (opens a separate window revealing a link that can be copied and pasted), and include the track in an existing playlist.

Clips, on the other hand, are editorially meaningful clips from the video content, created by subject matter experts, both at Alexander Street Press and in the scholarly community. These are typically short selections of material that are ideal for use in a classroom setting, either in presentations or in assigned work. The three blue buttons serve the same purpose as with tracks.

To create a detailed clip, select the scissors icon in the bottom right of the toolbar. Give your clip a useful title. Indicate the start and stop times for the clip. Add some annotation or notes to give the clip some context. Indicate how widely you want this clip to be shared - just you, your class/group, your institution, or everyone. Then hit save.

To create a bookmark, select the bookmark icon in the bottom right of the toolbar. This will open the clip editing options described above, but with the start time set to the current video position and the title "Bookmark" followed by the video title.


Thumbnails serve as a visual table of contents for the video. Clicking on any image will jump forward or back to that point in the video.

How do I listen to content using the audio player?

Our audio player is designed to provide an optimal listening experience for CDs, tracks, and clips while also allowing for further searching, browsing and editing within the content itself. You can find a video tutorial about the audio player here.

Playing a track

All tracks can be played using the 'play icon', located next to each track/work/album in the database. The audio player provides the following navigation:

  • Next/previous tracks
  • 30 second rewind, for quick rewinding and replaying of a section
  • Play/pause
  • Volume control
  • Quality selector - users can choose between our standard streaming rate (128 kbps) and our high quality rate (320 kbps)
  • Audio clips (see separate section on how to create)
  • Audio waveform view, with zoom functionality
  • Language selector
  • Settings selector (including setting preferences for default audio quality)
  • Bookmark editor

Audio quality

By default, the player detects your bandwidth and tries to serve you the best bit rate based on how much bandwidth you have. However, you can still select between the standard and high quality option at any time.

Audio waveform viewer

By default, the audio waveform for the entire album appears - users wishing to zoom in to a specific section of the album can use the zoom button, which will pull up a zoom view of the section you are currently listening to. Users can drag the selection window forwards and backwards to change the size of the selected view and the position of the selected view within the album.

Audio clips

To create an audio clip, users can click on the scissor icon on the RH side of the audio player toolbar. An enlarged section of the waveform of the track you are currently on will appear, with green and red slider bars to slide and select your clip start time and end time. You can also select the clip start and end time by manually entering in the time codes underneath the waveform view.

You can then add in any annotation to the clip and select the sharing settings (private, just my institution, anyone who subscribes) and save.

Your clip will appear in the Clips tab just below the player controls. You can edit and delete clips from this tab.

Adding audio to playlists

All tracks/works/albums have an add-to- playlist icon (+) - clicking on the link will add your items to your own list, which you can then cite/share/add to playlist. See 'Add to playlist' section of help files for more detail.


Mobile Playback

Users accessing our site from mobile devices should be able to play video and audio from the full version of our site. However, the media player on the full site is not optimized for mobile, and some features, like clip making, are unavailable for mobile users at this time. If viewing the full site on your device proves problematic, we also offer a feature that allows you to stream individual pieces of content on your mobile device via shortlinks to a simplified player.

Send to Mobile

The Send to Mobile feature is available anywhere you see an icon that looks like an old-fashioned mobile phone. Clicking on this icon in a search result or on a player page will give you a shortlink to the content, and a number of options to send this shortlink directly to your mobile device.

  • Text (SMS) Message - we can send a text message to your mobile phone. If your mobile phone is outside the USA, please select your country from the dropdown menu. We support 416 mobile service carriers in 160 countries, but if you have any difficulties in receiving a text, get in touch with our support team and let us know who your carrier is.
  • Email - we can email the link so that you can pick up the message later and follow the link.
  • Manual entry - we've made the shortlinks as easy as possible to enter by hand – we keep them as short as possible, and only ever use lower case alphabetic characters to keep it easy to type.
  • QR Code - QR codes are a special kind of barcode which can contain a web address or other information. Increasingly, smartphones and tablets are capable of decoding these with their built in cameras. You may have to download an app for your device to provide this functionality. Searching for 'QR code' in your device's app store should locate suitable apps. Once installed, simply start the app and point the camera at the barcode. It should automatically recognize it, and then take you to the page embedded in the barcode.

What is a shortlink?

The shortlinks are designed to be quick and easy to enter manually into a mobile device. They typically look like this: Mobile shortlinks allow you to listen even when outside of your institution network, allowing you to listen from your own home. Please note that shortlinks can be used for only 48 hours. After 48 hours have elapsed, you will be prompted to redirect to the original Web page. At this point, you will need to authenticate through your institution or library in order to regain access.

System Requirements for Mobile

Our streaming media is available to users of iOS (Apple) and Android operating systems. When listening to audio on a mobile device, you will need a 3G data connection or better for the best experience. For video, you may require a 4G data connection or Wi-Fi access to a broadband Internet connection.