Adobe Connect Mobile 2.1 Available on iTunes and Google Play

Mobile continues to be a keep element in Adobe Connect’s success. The new release has some fantastic new features beyond the already fantastic features available in the previous version.

Key new features / enhancements include the following:

  • Deliver, interact with, and track Adobe Presenter training content in virtual classrooms, supporting multiple choice, true/false, and matching questions
  • View meeting background imagery for personalization and branding
  • View two live webcams (user and another attendee), and unlimited paused webcams, simultaneously
  • Integrated conference call audio details are included in invitations sent from within the mobile meeting app (excludes iPhone, limited to NA prefixes)
  • Improved login workflow (clicking on meeting link will go directly to Mobile client and retain the URL, or direct you to app store to get the app if necessary)

You can find additional information on the Adobe Connect blog.  You can see the new client in action in this video available on our YouTube channel here.  Be sure to download the new app from iTunes or Google Play stores as soon as you can!

Camera Test

On several occasions I have had discussions with individuals regarding camera quality. There are two elements regarding quality, subjective and objective quality.  Obviously each individual can look at the image produced and make up there own mind. In some cases it is helpful to have some objective data to help elucidate the individuals assumptions. To that end I posted a simple test.

Simply choose a typical resolution and click the test button. The video that you see show up in the application is not to scale, it is 1/3 scale. The key element is the frame per second metric and the capture size. Not all cameras will support all of these resolutions so you may notice that the capture size is not the same as the resolution that you selected. You should use a browser other than Chrome. In other words Firefox, IE, etc… The reason I say this is that Google decided to write their own Flash player that does not act the same as the Adobe Flash player. As an example if you run this test in Chrome and select a resolution that is not supported by your webcam you will not see the resolution change but if you run this using the Adobe Flash player and choose a resolution that is not supported by your webcam you will see the resolution that is supported. This is a pretty cool ability because you can see what resolutions are supported by your webcam.

 

Capture

Firefox

Well after years of being a firefox user I am switching. I have had enough of the crashing and updates. I have run chrome for some time as a secondary browser and it is much more stable. I know there is a Flash plugin issue but it is easily fixed.

 

Disable the PPAPI Flash plug-in and enable the NPAPI Flash plug-in in Chrome as follows:

1.    Type chrome://plugins in browser tab (Figure 1).

2.    Expand Details in the upper-right area of the screen if needed.

3.    Click Disable for the PPAPI (out-of-process) Flash plug-in Type.

4.    Check if there is at least one NPAPI Flash plug-in listed below the PPAPI Flash plug-in. If it is, make sure at least one NPAPI Flash plug-in is enabled. Then make sure to refresh the Connect meeting client tab in the browser.

5.    If no NPAPI Flash plug-in is listed, then it needs to be installed from get.adobe.com/flashplayer . After installing it, make sure to refresh the Connect meeting client tab in the Chrome browser.

 

Thats about it. This issue should be resolved early in 2013. You might want to wait for that update but for me I am moving now.

 

Adobe Connect Connection Test

I have had numerous requests for a connection test that allows a user to enter the specific server they are trying to connect to as oppose to a generic test that tests port and protocol access to an external server. I created a simple application that does just that, allows a user to enter a connection string to a server they are attempting to access. You may ask, how would they get the connection string? If they are having issues someone will need to send them the connection string (i.e. email, IM, etc…). This could also be used to test connectivity to a new on premise server. So how do you find a connection string to an Adobe Connect Meeting? Simply have someone launch a meeting, hold down the shift key and select “About Adobe Connect” from the “Help” menu.

Find an Adobe Connect Meeting connection string.
Find an Adobe Connect Meeting connection string.

If you were holding the shift key you would then see the following dialog box.

Adobe Connect Meeting connection string
Adobe Connect Meeting connection string

Copy the text, notice that it starts with rtmp. Open the connection test application and paste the text as seen in the following:

Adobe Connect connection test application
Adobe Connect connection test application

 

Notice that there are three separate and successful tests. Adobe Connect can make connections using variations of the rtmp protocol as well as use different ports. It is a good idea to test using rtmp, rtmps (rtmp over SSL) at a minimum. It is a simple matter to change the first reference to rtmp to rtmps and to change the first reference to port 1935 to port 443.  As an example the following string will test a connection to the server using rtmp over port 1935:

rtmp://arzbs8.adobeconnect.com:1935/?rtmp://pcparapg06:8506/meetingbs3app/545995061/679960997/

The following connection string to the same server will test a connection using rtmps over port 443:

rtmps://arzbs8.adobeconnect.com:443/?rtmp://pcparapg06:8506/meetingbs3app/545995061/679960997/

This application has not been extensively tested and is provided as is with not warranty or support.

So how do you get the application? Simply fill out the registration at the following link. Once I approve the registration you will receive an email with a link to download the application.

Registration

I hope you find it useful.

 

 

 

 

 

Adobe Connect Extended Characters

I threw together a simple tool that enables a user to simply access diacritical marks in an Adobe Connect meeting. I intend sync capability to this in the near future but for now it will allow you to see and enter diacritical marks and then cut and past them into a whiteboard or note pad. Download
Simple Virtual Keyboard for Adobe Connect

Easy access to extended characters.

Seeing Outside the Box

There is a saying that I frequently use, “every thing is easy as long as you know how”. I am not sure where I heard it but it makes a lot of sense. There is another saying that fits nicely with the first, “when you are a hammer every problem looks like a nail”. Ok enough with the sayings but just think about those two saying for a minute and you will see the problem with most training on the web today.

Many subject matter experts will come at the subject that they understand in the same way and dismiss confusion as stupidity because they are too close to the subject. They have very good reasons for this approach, reasons that they can for the most part articulate. The problem is that for the most part they do not have the ability to see the issue, subject or problem from another persons perspective.

Another problem that I see all the time is that if I know how to create documentation I end up taking the same approach for training. This is a common approach to nearly all tasks and that is the reason that the first cars look like horse drawn carriages. That is what the designer understood.

The word visionary means something different to me than the popular or widely accepted definition. When I think of a visionary I think of someone with the ability to see or imagine from another persons perspective. I am not sure if that is the correct way to express that idea but it is important enough to try again. If I can under stand a customers concerns, needs, requirements, etc… that would make me a visionary.  All to often you will find a visionary that has the ability to see an issue from one perspective but not another. For instance you might find a visionary that understands a developers concerns, interests and issues but has no clue what a marketing manager needs or requires. This problem is compounded by timing (fiscal quarters, delivery schedules, etc…). I can hear the response now, “I do not have time to make the changes to this training, our delivery date is next week”.

To sum up this short rant, please do not point to reorganized documentation and call it training.

 

 

FLV Checker

Some of you maybe familiar with the FLVCheck tool that allows you to check to see if a Flash video is properly formatted. If you are you would also know that it is a command prompt application (i.e. there is no user interface). To get familiar with the ability to use native process support in Adobe AIR I wrapped the FLVCheck tool in a simple Flex application. This is a simple UI that allows you to drag and drop and flv file onto the application so that it can check the format and fix simple issues. This application does not add any functionality to that application all it does is add a user interface. The application is free but I do ask that you register in order to download. You will also find the Adobe Connect custom video pod at the same location after you are registered. If the registration form does not load, clear your browser cache and try again.

Change is a Constant

As you might have noticed from my absence I have a new job. I moved over to the Adobe Connect team a few months back. It has been a very busy transition, which is something I enjoy. If you are not familiar with Adobe Connect have a look, it has been through a lot of changes over the years. One very interesting change that happened recently was that it started supporting AS3 content. An even more interesting change would be to support Flash Player 10 content, wouldn’t it? Then you would have the ability to take advantage of all of those great video related features in FMS. I am not announcing any new features simply wondering out loud or should I say in print. I am in the final stages of creating a custom pod for Connect that allows you to play streaming video from FMS inside of Connect. You might say, why would that be important”? Adobe Connect does not allow full frame rate video at this time. With this custom pod you will be able to get 25 to 30 fps in a Connect meeting room and off load the video to FMS. I will post that example and article in the next day or two, so stay tuned.

Flash Media Server 4 brings Multicast to Flash Video

In case you missed it Adobe announced Flash Media Server 4 . This is a significant release for a number of reasons. The first reason is that many corporate customers have been interested in Flash video but were not able to take advantage of it with out support for IP Multicast as this technology was a mandate from their IT organization. In other words this update for the Flash Media Server to version four gets you a 64bit architecture, Absolute timecode, faster seeking, trick mode playback (fast motion, slow motion, and frame stepping), intelligent reconnect, faster switching for RTMP Dynamic Streaming and IP Multicast Support.

Using version 4  of the interactive edition of the Flash Media Server gets you the ability to choose between Unicast (with or with out Origin / Edge), IP Multicast and even Live HTTP Dynamic Streaming. It is even possible to failover from IP Multicast to a Unicast stream if necessary. When you consider all of the possibilities they include:

  • Interactive applications that support video, audio and data for one to many and many to many for both live and video on demand
  • Large scale broadcasts using IP Multicast
  • Origin / Edge solutions that can be used to intelligently reduce bandwidth requirements for vod
  • Failover for complex environments with different network requirements (e.g. remote sites, vpn)

That is a short summary of the possibilities that you get with the interactive edition of the Flash Media Server but that was not the only announcement. Adobe also announced Adobe® Flash® Media Enterprise Server 4. If you are not familiar with RTMFP that would be a good place to start. This peer protocol will allow you to take advantage of users / viewers upstream bandwidth to broadcast video, audio and data in your application and now the Flash® Media Enterprise Server 4 can participate in those groups. So consider the limitations of a peer broadcast. First you will only have access to the one video codec that can encode that is part of the Flash Player and that is Sorenson Spark. If you are familiar with Sorenson Spark you know that the quality leaves something to be desired. When you consider that the Flash® Media Enterprise Server 4 can act as a peer using RTMFP you now have access to all of the varied video formats that can be broadcast using the server (On2, H.264,…). It is also important to note that you are not limited to just video when you are using Peer Assisted Multicast (RTMFP) you can include data as well. These applications can include interactivity unlike IP Multicast. Of course there are considerations that include additional latency based on the number and location of peers in a group but the possibilities are amazing. Just consider an internet based application that includes video and interactivity with 10k concurrent users. With out a peer solution you would have to invest in a significant number of servers as well as a significant amount of bandwidth. With the Flash® Media Enterprise Server 4 you could address both server and bandwidth requirements with a small fraction of what it would take with a Unicast solution. The cost savings will be significant.

Test Media Player

After numerous calls to help people confirm that the server was working correctly I decided to write a media player that would help test and confirm the ability to stream video from the Flash Media Server. This player is provided as is with no warranty or support but I hope you will find it useful. This is an AIR based player.  I created it for AIR for a number of reasons not the least of which that it was easy to install and run locally with out the need for an http server. I have already thought of a few additions so let me know if you find it useful. It is simple to use, just enter the url to some media on an FMS server in the following form:

URL Syntax: rtmp://[servername]/[application]/[streamname+extension]

1)     [servername]: this is the IP Address, or the domain name of your server. (i.e. localhost)
2)     [application]: use “vod” unless you have created a new directory in the application folder of the Flash Media Server installation directory. There are two built in applications vod and live.
4)   [streamname]: use the name of your video file (including the extension). The extension can be flv, f4v or mp4. You do not need to prefix the file name with the content type (e.g. mp4:).

The application reports Current Bitrate, Dropped Frames as well as Max Bytes Per Second and other useful messages. When you stop the video you will be presented with a graph and grid of the captured data.

AIR Test Media Player
AIR Test Media Player

You can download the application here.