CNAME URL set up (and robots).

In the last few weeks, we have received a few questions regarding the CNAME URL set up.  Below is a brief (non-technical) explanation of how the CNAME URL set up works. 
Surrogates_mannequin-thumb-330x498-22999.jpgA few weeks ago I felt I needed my Bruce Willis fix.  Poised, I shoveled popcorn into my mouth, ready to be transfixed by the man who has wowed us playing a rouge cop, an unemployed rouge cop, and a recently-pulled-out-of-retirement rogue cop (he's the only man for the job, obviously).  "Surrogates" appears on the screen.  Willis plays a cop.  (He goes rogue later.)  In the "Surrogates" world, people strap into contraptions, controlling their mechanical equivalent.  As I watched the machine Bruce Willis fight other bad-guy machines, my mind started wandering to COVE (as it is want to do) and the topic of CNAME setups.

You see, just as Bruce Willis straps himself into this apparatus that controls his surrogate - the Bruce Willis visible to rest of the world - stations need to strap themselves into the portal (served by PBS) in order to make their content visible to their viewers.  This is done by way of a CNAME.

The portal is served by PBS.  Stations individualize their portal by adjusting the look and feel, carousel order, and (for Pro stations) adding local content.  When a user enters "video.wxyz.org", they are telling PBS' servers to call up WXYZ's unique settings.  The CNAME serves as a URL mask, allowing users visiting your portal to continue to see your URL.

A station needs to set up two CNAME URLs - one for production, the other for testing (QA) - each pointing to its PBS equivalent.  For example:

video.wxyz.org would point to video.pbs.org

and

video-qa.wxyz.org would point to video-qa.pbs.org.

It is important to remember not to set up a redirect.  (We don't people flying around.  This isn't "Jumper", after all.)  CNAMEs can take up to 24 hours to propogate across the Internet.  (If you have created your CNAME properly, you will - counter-intuitively - receive a "Forbidden" message.  It just means we have not set it up on our end.)  Please have them set up before returning your forms to us, as we can't give you COVE access until the CNAME URLs are set up.  And without COVE access, you can't hop from building to building battling robots.  Or stream content into a seamless local-national online video ecosystem.

For more information, please e-mail station_video@pbs.org

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