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System Components

Our digital signage solution iPoint has 3 components:

  • Server to hold and store the playlists and screen information
  • The Scheduler to configure the digital signage players, set up playlists and assign playlists to players
  • The Player component to run the scheduled playlists

Server Component

The server component is the smallest component of all 3 components in our digital signage setup. Small but the most important one. Basically it is a server process or database storage for players, player groups, playlists, text tickers, and playlist assignments.

There are 2 types of installations. A normal installation on the company network, or an external or internet installation for remote locations without having access to the in-house company network.

Typically for a company network setup is that the user install this on an existing file server. Or for smaller installations the user could even use one of the player computers in the setup where the install the player component as well as the server component on the same machine. The server component should have a high availability of course to maximize its use.

For an internet based installation the user install the server part on a Windows server machine that can be addressed from outside. Most people use a dedicated computer at the data center of their internet hosting company. But of course the user can host a server with a public IP on the company network yourself. For security reasons and high availability the user can better outsource this to a hosting company.

The server component is a typical server process that accepts questions from the other components (the clients) in the digital signage setup. It validates the requests and sends back an answer to the requester. A typical question for the server is the player asking if there is an active playlist, or another player asking to send over a video file for playback.

Scheduler Component

For the interactive user, the scheduler application is the most important component as this is the application that the user use in the configured players and where the user set up and assign playlists. This first connects to the digital signage server and authenticates the connection.

Then the user get a nice graphical overview of all the players in the signage network. Each player is represented by a thumbnail representing what is remotely displayed on the players in the setup. The scheduler application refreshes the thumbnails in a regular interval of seconds. The user immediately notice when a player goes down because the name of that player is either green or red. The player sends heartbeats to the server to indicate that the connection is still active. A player’s name will be seen in red whenever the server is not receiving those heartbeat signals anymore. The administrator of the signage system can then investigate the possible outage and take actions on it.

The scheduler allows the user to configure the players. The user can choose to set up automatic folder synchronization, how many monitors there are connected to the player computer, the user can even restart or reboot the computer from remote. Or open an extra window to see what the player is currently doing like a life logfile. Players are individual computers with player capabilities but the user can also group players to a logical group. Player grouping is ideal when the user have players with the same display needs and playlists, e.g. all shops of the retail chain in the same area and displaying the same commercials.

Player Component

Needless to say is that the player component is the most visible component in our digital signage setup. The player component is installed on a Windows computer and is responsible to display the right information at the right time. The user can connect a computer screen, or television screen, or projector or even a video wall of multiple screens to this computer.

The player will initially make a connection to the server component. It will ask for the current playlist and it will start copying the files locally. All files of a playlist are first copied locally on the hard disk of the player computer before it starts the playback. Typically it starts playing the playlist as soon as the first file of the playlist is present on the local computer. In the background it will continue to download the other files of the current playlist. Playlist files are copied locally because the user wants to continue playback in case of a network or internet interruption. Another reason for local playback is performance. Loading a file from the server might cause network congestion and will slow down the server, the player and your network.