Digital Signage – Live Test!

I was finally able to test out the Drupal+Signage system on a screen today. We still have a little ways to go. The computer driving the sign has little memory, and is having problems with the jquery transitions. It’s slated to be replaced within the week or so. Hopefully that means a new video card which will support HD (1920×1080). Right now, we’re stuck using 1024×768. And if we end up having to use something with a 4:3 aspect ratio, I’ll get rid of the scroll bars. But I’m hoping we’ll be able to go wide screen when we go live.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of photos…

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School starts in 3 weeks. Hopefully we will be rolling live by then.

Meanwhile, I’m working on reducing the amount of text in the larger slide area, increasing the font-size (although everything is easily read by the passer-by) and adding some better back-end functions for our signage moderator.

The moderator has the ability to maintain two areas on the screen: the larger  ‘slide’ area on the left, and the scrolling events on the bottom right. The moderator can upload an image (exported from powerpoint, provided by a designer or another department) or insert text for an announcement. To add events to the scrolling event calendar, the moderator, as well as several other department assistants can add events to our college calendar. There is an option in our calendar module that asks, “Add to digital signage?”, if they choose this option, the date, event title, time and location will appear on the digital sign.

The spot above the scrolling calendar is a static ‘Ad’ or Announcement that I’ll change out periodically. Eventually, the moderator will be able to manage this section as well.

There are two horizontal scrollers at the bottom of the screen, one is a list of headlines of business news from Dow Jones, and the second line is a stock ticker, built with JQuery, Javascript and Yahoo! Stock Quotes.

The signage loads in the full-screen, kiosk mode of Chrome.

Once I’m happy with how this is working, I’ll detail the drupal side of things.

Woa. Underwater.

Okay, starting some major drupal theming, and I realize I have a lot to learn.

> Disable all CSS files native to drupal, I need just 1 css file to load. Not needing the load bloat of 12+ style sheets for possibilities that will not exist in this digital signage environment (https://gist.github.com/2727330 & http://www.grahamgilchrist.com/blog/25 were very helpful)

> I’ve got the template now in drupal — but I don’t have content connected to it. How do I rotate through different content options to build a slide show (look for drupal slide show modules that can work with content, rss feeds, and images, and have multiple instances on one page) all from /signage.

> go ahead and add the static module parts of the page. Time, weather.

> Need to start creating the news source in drupal.

> create signage view

wow.

Little, by little, I’ll get there.

Digital Signage

I’m starting a big new project at work. Trying to take our digital signage from an archaic powerpoint slide presentation to something that is driven by dynamic content, visually pleasing, and pulling content from a CMS. As I start to move forward with this I’m realizing that there’s much more involved than just “Hey! Make a system that we can use Drupal + mac mini’s + tv screens to show announcements for the college!” Voila!

This is my brain dump trying to sort through it and get a game plan.

Existing: Powerpoint slides given to URC, updated at least twice a week, no real deadlines given to contributors, no campus-wide events, only B&E-sponsored/involved.

Givens: Drupal, mac mini hardware, 3 existing-screens (at least 2 more to hopefully come that will be tailored to departments)

Needs:

  • Policy
  • Submission Form (to include start/stop dates, constrained image upload, etc)
  • Content types: Academics, Events, Ads, Faculty/Student Spotlight
  • Drupal Template + views + http://drupal.org/node/812294
  • RSS Feed? Twitter? Time? Weather? NASDAQ Ticker?

Other options: There are lots of out of the box options that come with screens + hardware + software. Due to budget constraints, we’re having to find the cheapest (free) option available. Which has lead us to stick with Drupal. However, I’ve recently discovered Rise Vision and am a little intrigued by what I see. I logged in to check it out, but it seems to involve just as much development as working with Drupal.

So, in I go. Building a few wireframes, learning drupal. I think I’ll do a few Style Tiles while I’m at it.

P.S. Also grateful for a boss that encourages me to experiment and learn on the job.

P.P.S. Also grateful for the shop-talk-chat I had with @NickDenardis from Wayne State about their Digital Signage solution.

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