NetSched Digital Signage
System Overview
NetSched Family
NetSched Generator
- supports creation and maintenance of
schedules, content, and file management
plus FTP and/or peer to peer support for
schedule upload and accounting
NetSched Player
- supports playback and accounting
NetSched Download Utility
- supports background polling and download
for new schedules and content
NetSched Generator
Management of sign profiles for
communications purposes
Support for multiple schedule projects
Schedules consist of a group of
“advertisements”, plus the ordering of these
advertisements in one of 3 schedule types:
main loop, timed and repetitive
NetSched Generator
Generator is “drag
and drop” ready,
allowing the user to
drag files from the
desktop to the
current schedule’s
“browser” of
available media
NetSched Generator
Once media has been
assembled, the media
can be dragged into
the “programming
area”, for easy
management of
schedule ordering,
etc.
NetSched Generator
Once an ordering has
been generated, the
project can be saved.
Schedule projects can
then be uploaded to a
sign, but first, a sign
profile must be created.
The Remote File
Management menu
supports this.
NetSched Generator
A remote sign profile consists of the following
information:
– Sign name (to assist in selection)
– Display ID (assigned at remote end)
– Machine ID (to help differentiate multiple signs at one
–
–
–
–
location)
TCP/IP address (name, or dotted IP address)
Port Number or FTP path
userID and password for FTP support
Selection of either “NetSched” or “FTP” property type
NetSched Generator
Normally, a remote sign can be communicated to
directly, via peer to peer communications (the
Player is a “listener” (server) while Generator is a
“sender” (client).
However, not all sign installations will allow for
external access to the private network that the sign
is hosted on. Thus, the Player can instead poll for
updates by looking for NetSched Schedule data on
either a web or FTP server.
NetSched Generator
If an FTP server is the destination of the schedule
project, Generator supports the configuration of
the FTP server address, the path to the folder that
will hold the content, and the userID/password
combination to gain access to that site.
This allows for automated distribution of content
to many machines from one single FTP server,
totally eliminating the need for peer to peer
communications.
NetSched Generator
Once the sign
profiles are
completed,
schedule projects
can be uploaded
to the selected
signs. Choose
File | Upload to
initiate this.
More than one
sign can be
selected here.
NetSched Generator
Schedules and associated data will be
automatically transferred to all signs selected.
Progress indications will be shown to illustrate
communications.
Upon completion, a status indication will inform
the user of successful transfer.
Projects can be uploaded as often as you wish, and
in many cases, a single project can be “tweaked”
indefinitely, with many uploads of the project to
the remote Player system.
NetSched Generator
Remote File Management menu supports
secondary communications operations with the
remote Players (as defined via their sign profiles).
Operations include:
– Listing files at remote schedule and/or library
– Local and remote library management
– File transfer operations
– Remote configuration operations
– Remote reboot and command execution operations
NetSched Generator
Accounting subsystem allows for peer to
peer queries of logging information that
details exactly when scheduled media had
successfully executed at the remote Player
Accounting criteria can be configured for
either a full “report” style display of
playback information, or an Excel
spreadsheet style download of raw data
NetSched Generator
Accounting
criteria
management uses
a simple yet
powerful interface
to specify which
signs are being
interrogated, and
what date/time
ranges are needed.
NetSched Generator
Currently, only peer to peer support is
available
Upon request, Solution Tech can be
contracted to create accounting log
information distribution support for large
scale networks that require data from
potentially dozens/hundreds/thousands of
signs on the network.
NetSched Generator
All media that is played within the Player
can be tagged as “owned” by a 3rd party (the
“client”), for accounting purposes. This
tagging allows for filtering of accounting
information on a “client” by “client” basis.
If client tracking is not needed, a default
“no client” tagging can be applied.
NetSched Generator
For remote file distribution support, Generator can
tag every media element as having a default
location to download content, if the content is
“missing” at the time the content is requested to
play.
NetSched Generator schedules can be created to
host “placeholder” objects, which do not exist at
design time, and will be fetched during runtime at
the Player end.
NetSched Generator
Each media element can be told to fetch “missing”
schedule data at the Player end from one of 6
different locations, fully configured at the Player:
– the “missing media” server (a default “catch all”)
– Level 1 through Level 5 servers
The Level 1 through 5 can be thought of as a
hierarchy of content: Level 1 could be “universal”
content, played by all machines that have tagged an
item of that level, while Level 5 could be viewed as
“localized” content, specific to a particular Player.
NetSched Generator
These servers are simple web server or FTP
server specifications (with support for
userID and password for authentication).
When the Player finds a piece of media
that’s missing, it’ll check the tagging data,
and pull down that content from the
appropriately specified server that matches
the tagging level.
NetSched Generator
This facility allows for large scale
distribution and management of where
content comes from.
This also creates the potential for Generator
to manage a TEMPLATED SCHEDULE,
which contains only placeholders of content
that will eventually be automatically
downloaded by the remote Players.
NetSched Player
The Player is an automated schedule and content
playback system, designed for the Microsoft
Windows 2000 or better operating system.
Since Windows is the supporting OS, Player can
take advantage of ALL media types that Windows
has to offer, including 3rd party media objects such
as Flash, QuickTime, etc.
It is assumed that all required 3rd party support
will be present at the Player
NetSched Player
The Player is configured by subdividing the video
display into “Panels”. By default a single panel is
available. This can be changed to a maximum of
26 panels (depending on the version of Player
running).
A panel can be thought of as a “mini” Player.
Each panel runs an independent schedule, thus,
each remote Player can support many
simultaneous schedules playing in harmony.
NetSched Player
Panels can be configured to be “tiled”, in
that all screen real-estate is assigned to one
or more panels.
Panels can also be hosted “off screen”,
which allows for the scheduling of nonvisual content, such as music files, external
commands, etc.
NetSched Player
Player can be configured to automatically reboot the
remote computer at a specific time of day (or multiple
times a day if necessary), or can be disabled from daily
reboots.
Player supports the ability to act as a “topmost” window
(covering up all others in the system). However, this can
be disabled for testing purposes if necessary.
Player also will automatically reposition the mouse in
case the mouse cursor appears on top of the display. This
prevents potential screen burn in for Plasma style
monitors.
NetSched Player
Finally, Player can be configured with a set
of 6 unique specifications for “missing
data” serving. As discussed earlier with
Generator, the ability to tag a specific media
object with its server location allows the
Player to automatically download the
missing content from the appropriate server,
thus automating large scale distribution of
content.
NetSched Player
Player configuration is done once, and
Player will run automatically if configured
as a startup utility.
Since Player runs as a GUI application in
the Windows environment, the Player
computer should auto-boot into an account
in Windows, with Player configured as an
auto-run application (Startup menu).
NetSched Player
Player assumes that all standard IT practices
have been taken into account in terms of
configuring Windows for situations like:
– Disabling of screen savers and auto-power-
shutoff of disks and monitors
– Automated boot into an account to run Player
– Network security (firewall, virus checking) has
been enabled to prevent unauthorized remote
tampering with the Player system.
NetSched Player
For each panel available, Player will
execute the available schedule.
Schedules are either distributed via push peer to peer (Player “listens” to port 3334
by default) communications from Generator
(push), or via pull – were new schedules are
pulled at a specified frequency from a
remote web/FTP server.
NetSched Player
As schedules are executed, all played content will
be logged on an automated basis.
Playback Log files are stored in simple CSV
format, and can be manually extracted from Player
using file transfer operations built into Generator,
or can be queried using the Accounting support
built into Generator.
Future support will allow for log files to be
automatically uploaded to a 3rd party FTP server
for storage external to the Player. This will be a
new configuration option for Player.
NetSched Player
Player supports the ability to execute external
commands.
Thus, 3rd party control software can be scheduled
to run, such as turning on/off LCD or Plasma
panels, to control lighting in a room where a sign
is mounted, to control an internal DVD player, etc.
Support for 3rd party LED billboard technology is
available.
NetSched Player
Player also supports live video playback via
video capture devices, if available at the
Player end.
Generator can indicate a live video object to
play within the schedule, thus live TV or
video camera content can be added to any
schedule!
NetSched Download Utility
NSDL takes over where Firewalls prevent external
software (Generator) from talking to a Player
behind the firewall.
Since the default configuration of a sign is to
“listen” to port 3334 on the Player’s IP address,
some sign installations may disallow this means of
communications, as some view external access of
this type as a security issue.
NetSched Download Utility
To eliminate problems, NSDL can instead poll, at
a specific frequency, an external Web or FTP
server, looking for specific schedule and content
to be downloaded to the Player.
NSDL will then initiate a “behind the firewall”
communications session to install the
schedule/content, as if Generator had done the
work itself.
This utility thus forms the backbone of a large
scale distribution network, where peer to peer
transmission of schedules/content is impractical.
NetSched Summary
The NetSched family of software provides a
robust, flexible, and inexpensive content and
schedule generation, playback and accounting
system for digital signage networks.
The software is configurable, and can be
customized by contracting Solution Tech Systems
for add-ons that enhance the value of the solution
for your digital signage needs.