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How do I customise signs to display different data at different sites?

How do I customise signs to display different data at different sites?

Background


Suppose you have one restaurant in Cardiff and another in London.  You would like to show the same special offer sign at both restaurants, but because of geographical price differences, the price for a Super Saver Meal is £3.00 in Cardiff but £3.50 in London.

One solution is to have two separate signs with different prices, and deploy one to Cardiff and the other to London.  However, maintaining two almost-identical signs is not very convenient.  Nor is it very scalable if you have hundreds or even thousands of restaurants, and several sets of prices!

A more elegant solution is to use ‘data objects’.  A data object allows you to define multiple ‘tiers’ of pricing (or other data).   You can then define a single sign with placeholders for the prices.  When you deploy the sign to devices in a location, you also deploy a ‘tier’ of data appropriate for that location.  Devices in that location will then substitute the placeholders for the actual price data in that tier.

Defining a Data Object


Consider the following pricing structure for meals:

Standard Restaurants (including Cardiff):

PRODUCT CODEPRODUCT NAMEPRICE
376 Super Saver Meal £3.00
432 Meal Deal £3.45
441 Kids Meal £2.60
499 Deluxe Meal £4.50


London Restaurants:

PRODUCT CODEPRODUCT NAMEPRICE
376 Super Saver Meal £3.50
432 Meal Deal £3.95
441 Kids Meal £2.90
499 Deluxe Meal £5.10


In SignStix terminology, this would be one 'data object' (Meal Prices) with three 'columns' (Product Code, Product Name and Price) and two 'tiers' (Standard and London), and four data 'items/rows' (Meal Deal and so on).

  1. Log into SignStix Director
  2. Navigate to Modules > Data Objects.
  3. Click the plus (+) button near the top.
  4. In the resulting window, enter a name for your data object e.g. 'Meal Prices'.
  5. Set the 'Base Tier name' to 'Standard Restaurants'.
  6. Leave the 'Data source' as 'No source'.
  7. Click the 'Add Columns' button.


This launches another window in which you can define the columns for the data. When it refers to the 'primary key', this means the reference column which is going to be the same across all the tiers. In this case it will be the Product Code.

  1. Enter 'Product Code' as the column name and click 'Add Column'. Click the key icon to make this column the primary key.
  2. Enter 'Product Name' as the next column name and click 'Add Column'.
  3. Enter 'Price' as the last column name and click 'Add Column'.
  4. Click the 'Add Data Object' button.


The data object has now been created, but at this point it only has one tier (Standard Restaurants) and there are no data items/rows (no meals). The next stage is to add the rows for the Standard Restaurants tier.

  1. Click the pencil icon on your Data Object row to edit it.
  2. Click the pencil icon on the 'Standard Restaurants' tier.
  3. Click the plus (+) icon near the top to add a new item/row.
  4. In the Product Code field, enter 376 (the unique product code for Super Saver Meal). 
  5. In the Product Name field, enter 'Super Saver Meal'.
  6. In the Price field, enter '3.50' (there's no need to include a '£' symbol – that can be added in the sign itself).
  7. Click 'Add Row'.
  8. Repeat the above for the other three products.


Now you have defined a complete pricing tier for the Standard Restaurants. To define a tier for the London Restaurants, the easiest method is as follows:

  1. Click back to the 'Meal Prices' Data Object and select the 'Standard Restaurants' tier.
  2. Click the 'Duplicate Tier' icon near the top and enter 'London Restaurants' as the name.
  3. This creates a new tier with the same data as the Standard Restaurants.
  4. You can now edit the price data (click the pencil icon or double-click the row) to set the higher London prices.


Note that a data object will also accept data from a spreadsheet, which may be more convenient.  The top row of the spreadsheet should contain the column headings, with the data rows for a given tier underneath.  Save the spreadsheet as a CSV (Comma-Separated Values) file.

Then you can upload it to Director, either when creating the data object (by choosing 'CSV file' as the 'Data source'), or when editing a tier (by clicking the up-arrow icon near the top).

With the data object fully defined, it can now be referenced in a sign as described below.

Using a Data Object in a Sign


To create a price list sign for meals open your sign in Creator.

  1. Click the 'Data Object Tool' button in the Tools panel at the top left.
  2. Choose the 'Meal Prices' data object you prepared earlier. This adds a new layer to the Layers panel.


This new layer has no direct presence on the signage canvas itself, but you can set options on it via the Tool Options panel at the bottom right. Specifically, you can decide which tier you want to use for previewing. For example, when constructing the sign, you can choose whether you want to see Standard Restaurants or London Restaurants pricing.

For now, leave this set to 'Standard Restaurants'.

  1. Use the 'Text Tool' to add a Text layer.
  2. In the 'Tool Options' panel, click the 'Content' tab and set the 'Content Type' to be 'Data Object'.
  3. Set the 'Data Object Layer' to be the 'Meal Prices' data object you prepared earlier.
  4. Set 'Show Column' to be 'Product Name'.
  5. Set 'Primary key value' to be 376, which corresponds to 'Super Saver Meal'.
  6. The text layer will now show 'Super Saver Meal'.
  7. Add another Text layer as above, but this time position it just to the right of the first layer, and set the 'Show Column' to be 'Price'. Also set the 'Prefix' to be '£'.


You should now see 'Super Saver Meal £3.00' on your sign.

You can add further products by repeating the process above but choosing different values for the primary key (e.g. 432) so that you see the data for a different product.

Save and publish your sign as normal.

Deploying a Data Object


The final step is to deploy your sign and data to your devices, ensuring that the right data tiers go to the right devices. 

By default, the base tier data is used across all devices.  But you can override this so that devices at a given location adopt a different tier, as follows.

Firstly, as a preparation step, navigate to the Devices page and check that the relevant devices have been assigned to an appropriate location.  (In this example, ensure that devices which are physically in London have been put in the 'London' location.)

  1. Assign the sign to your device as described in Deploying a Sign.
  2. Now navigate to your Data Object.
  3. Select it and click the pencil icon to edit it.
  4. Click the locations icon on the 'London Restaurants' tier.
  5. This shows the (empty) list of locations that this data tier applies to.
  6. Click the plus (+) icon to add a location (i.e. 'London') then click 'Select' to confirm.
  7. Press the 'Deploy' button to deploy both the sign and the data to your devices.

Your restaurants in London and Cardiff should now be showing the appropriate pricing.


Tutorial video coming soon!