Insight & Article

Introducing SignStix Python

Introducing SignStix Python

January 01,0001 Posted by Geoff Cawood

We are delighted to announce the Python release of SignStix (version 2.7, summer 2015).  The main new features are described below:

Campaigns

The new ‘campaigns’ concept adds great flexibility when assigning content to your devices/screens.  You can now prepare seasonal campaigns in advance, and arrange for all of your screens to automatically switch to the new content on your chosen date.


As part of this enhancement, the old ‘Sites’ page in Director has been replaced by a number of simpler pages under the heading of ‘Deployment’:

  • Site Management – for adding new sites and zones.
  • Campaigns – for defining assignments of content to zones.
  • Campaign Schedule – for controlling which campaign is active for a given date/time.
  • Data Control – for defining which ‘tier’ of data applies to each zone (when using data objects).

To find out more about campaigns and how to benefit from them, please see the Campaigns - How to.  


Note that after the server upgrade to SignStix Python, you will automatically have a single campaign called ‘My Campaign’.  This will contain whatever content assignments you had previously set up in the old Sites page.  The Campaign Schedule will also be set up to contain your sole campaign.  These measures ensure that, by default, the upgraded system will behave as it did prior to the upgrade.

In addition, note that the location of the ‘Deploy Content’ button has moved slightly.  It is now in the toolbar at the top-right, next to ‘Launch Creator’.  This means that you can deploy from any page (e.g. after altering a sequence, or changing a sign schedule), reducing the number of clicks needed to send new signage out to your audience.

Monitoring Download Status

The Device Admin page has been revamped to include valuable information about the downloading status of your devices.  At the top of the page are three new statistics:

  • DEVICES – the total number of registered devices.
  • ONLINE – the number of devices currently in network contact.
  • LATEST CONTENT – the number of devices which have adopted the latest content.

When the ‘latest content’ number equals the number of devices you expect, you can be confident that your whole estate is playing the latest deployed content.

If the ‘latest content’ number is lower than expected, you can now check the cloud icons next to each device for more information:

  • If the device has a white cloud icon then downloading has completed and the device is playing the latest deployed content.
  • If the cloud icon is flashing then the device is still downloading.
  • If the cloud icon is a grey then Director is awaiting information from the device about its status.
These changes offer significantly improved monitoring of the devices in your estate.

Text Quality

We have improved the sharpness of text elements displayed on signage screens, making your content look even better!


Video-Slicing for Video-Walls

Previously, each device in a video-wall would download its own copy of a video, and then ‘zoom-in’ on the region its screen represents.  Although effective, this had some limitations:

  • The overall resolution of the video-wall was limited by the maximum resolution that a single device could handle.
  • It required significant network bandwidth if every device was downloading the same large video.

With SignStix Python, we have developed a cunning technique in which high-resolution videos are automatically chopped-up into a number of separate ‘slices’, one for each device/screen.

As a result, each device only downloads the video content it really needs, reducing network bandwidth significantly.  In addition, much larger overall resolutions can be achieved, producing some truly spectacular wall displays.

Note that video-slicing works invisibly behind-the-scenes by applying various video processing at the time of deploying.

A further enhancement is that when using Master/Slave synchronisation (the recommended model for video-walls), a device will now wait until all the other devices in the same wall have downloaded their new content and are ready to play.  This results in a much shorter transition period from one set of content to the next.  It avoids the distraction of having a wall in which some screens are showing old content while others are showing new content.

Cross-Zone Synchronisation for Video-Walls

When devices need to be synchronised (e.g. in a video wall) they are generally put in the same zone.  As a result, they adopt the same content, and each device can ‘zoom in’ on the region of content it represents.

We have now made this more flexible, so that devices in different zones can be synchronised, providing they are playing content that has the same duration.  This is known as ‘cross-zone synchronisation’.

For example, suppose you have two video walls, A and B, with devices in different zones.   You could set up two sequences so that wall A plays Sign 1 followed by Sign 2, while wall B plays Sign 1 followed by Sign 3.  Providing Sign 2 and Sign 3 have the same duration, Sign 1 can be played in sync each time round the loop.

To achieve this, you just need to set the Synchronisation Tag of the devices, as described in the Settings - How to.  

Restrict SignStix Access by IP Address Range

The ability to update your signage from any web-enabled computer anywhere in the world is one of the great advantages of SignStix.  However, some organisations prefer limited access to better match their security policies.

If required, you can now activate a security feature in which access to your SignStix account is restricted to a particular set of IP addresses.  In effect, this prevents the possibility of changes being made to your signage from any other computers.

If you would like to activate this feature, please contact SignStix support, who will take the details of your required IP address range and make the necessary changes to your account.

Customer-Controlled Player Upgrades

Previously, the upgrading of the Player software (which runs on your signage devices) was controlled and scheduled by the SignStix team.  However, many organisations prefer to be in control of their own estate, and make their own decisions about when any changes are applied.

In response to that feedback, we have now opened up control over Player upgrades.  You can choose the Player version from the Device Admin page in Director, and apply it at a time of your choice.  For more details please see the Upgrades - How to. 

SignStix administrators are informed by e-mail when new releases become available.  It is highly recommended that you do upgrade to the latest version when convenient, so that you can  benefit from new features and fixes.

General Improvements

Numerous minor fixes and enhancements have also been applied as part of our ongoing programme of quality and usability improvement.

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