Command & Control

Userful’s Command & Control Module is an advanced video wall and content management system. Users can access and manage their content completely independently of the Userful Control Center with the correct permissions and setup.

Command & Control is best used with Google Chrome or the latest Microsoft Edge browser.

Command & Control is only available to Enterprise license tiers.

Command & Control does not support Mirror Groups. See Supervisor Dashboard to display C&C Sources in more than one location.

Creating a Command & Control Source

  1. In Userful Control Center, click New Source New Source Icon.png. From the drop-down menu select Command and Control and give it a name

  2. Select an existing source to play permanently in the background, or select a black or white background image

  3. Click OK to complete the process

Creating and starting a Command & Control Source. Click the animation to zoom in

Command & Control works only with video walls and not with stand-alone displays. If you wish to use Command & Control on a single display, create a 1x1 Video Wall Zone.

Drag-and-drop your Video Wall or Zone to the Command & Control source, ensure the zone is running, and click Apply.

Configuring Command & Control

Unlike other sources, Command & Control is not managed from the Userful Control Center or with Interactive Viewer. From UCC, C&C looks exactly like the image above - a running zone assigned to a source. There are no virtual displays, unlike Picture-in-Picture or Multi-Window.

Each instance of Command & Control created in UCC has its own Sources and operates independently of any others.

To access Command & Control, click the button on the left side of the Userful Control Center. This will open Command & Control in a new browser tab.

Using Command & Control should only be done from a web browser on another laptop or desktop. C&C is a CPU-intensive application and running it on a display that is managed by the Userful server is not recommended, as this can cause performance issues.

You will be presented with a fresh Command & Control interface.

A default Command & Control view

The top bar contains a few functions:

Command & Control's Function Bar

From left to right, these are:

  1. Saved Layouts list (see Layouts, below)

  2. System switcher - View C&Cs of other systems on the LAN, if available

  3. Launch Camera - Launches USB or RTSP camera attached to the system, if available

  4. Source Names - Turns on source name overlays if Always Show Name is not checked

  5. Live Updates - Controls live video streaming of the background sources. As this is bandwidth- intensive, it is on by default if accessing C&C directly over your local network, but off by default if accessing the system via Userful Manager

  6. Enter/Exit Full Screen - Full-screens your browser for more screen real estate

  7. Help - Launches support resources

  8. Local Users - Lists active users in C&C via local login

Creating Sources

This setup is entirely different from the Userful Control Center and designed to be intuitive. There are a number of functions immediately available, but we should create some Sources first.

Command & Control's Source list

Sources in Command & Control are created and managed independently of Sources in UCC. Any Sources you create here will not appear in UCC, and vice versa. Caution should be exercised if the system will manage displays in C&C and UCC at the same time, particularly if using Blackmagic DeckLink Capture sources.

Click the Sources button in the bottom left corner. You can create any type of Direct or Interactive source in the same way that they are created in UCC.

Creating a Web Browser source in Command & Control
Adding a Signage Player source

You will recognize most fields when you go to create Sources, but there are a few new ones as well.

Scaling Options

You will notice that Interactive sources all have Scaling Options that allow you to set width and height resolutions. This tells the source what resolution it has to work with - for example, a Web Browser session given the shown resolution would then start in a window with 1280x720 resolution. This can be set to any resolution necessary, on a video wall 1920x1080 is the most common.

Scaling also gives you the ability to create sources that have non-standard aspect ratios. A resolution of 1920x2160 will create a Web Browser source perfect for a Twitter feed, for example.

A tall Twitter feed source, created by setting the Scaling to 1920x2160

The second difference you will find in C&C Sources is a check box for

Enabling this will allow the session to continue running if the source window itself is minimized. The session will not remain active if the source is closed. This allows you to have multiple active sessions running without needing to keep all of them open at once, and preserves user sessions at the cost of increased system resources, similar to the Persistent Running Session functionality in UCC.

Click to edit a Source, or to delete it.

Launching and Managing Sources

Once you have created a few sources, click them to "launch" them to the bottom bar.

Opening a Source from the List

You can either single-click to launch, or click-and-drag Sources on to the canvas.

Launching Sources

Double-clicking on a Source will cause it to expand to fill all the bezels it is currently touching.

Double-clicking expands a Source to fill the display

Dragging a Source to cover multiple or all bezels and then double-clicking it will cause it to fill multiple displays or the entire wall.

Covering multiple Displays and double-clicking will expand the Source to fill every Display it touches

You can also resize Sources with the mouse by clicking and dragging the edges or corners.

Resizing Sources like desktop applications

You can disable or enable Live Updates by clicking Live Updates at the top

Live Updates will enable or disable the streaming updates for a less resource-intensive experience

You can also enable or disable name overlays for each Source

Sources can have their names displayed on-screen for easier identification

Source Controls

Each Source has a set of sizing controls. From left to right, these are:

  • Source Name - The name given to the Source during setup

  • Volume Control - Mute/Unmute and Volume control

  • Minimize - Minimize the window to the bottom bar. The session continues running if Persistent Session is checked

  • Expand - Source fills the displays of all the bezels it is touching. This is identical to the double-click function

  • Maximize - Source fills the entire canvas

  • Stop - Stops and closes the Source

Each Source also has its own action menu.

  • Hide - Minimize to the taskbar. The session continues running if Persistent Session is checked

  • Deactivate - Stops and closes the Source, ending the session

  • Viewer - Interactive sources only. Opens Interactive Viewer

  • Rename - Rename the Source

  • Always Show Name - Always shows the Source name as an Overlay for that particular Source, irrespective of how Source Names is set.

As you may have noticed, managing Sources in Command & Control is a lot like managing applications in a desktop OS. Take some time to familiarize yourself with creating and manipulating Sources before moving on.

Layouts

Layouts allow you to save different configurations of Sources and recall them with a single click. Before creating Layouts, there are a few best practices to follow.

  1. Have all of your Sources created ahead of time.

  2. To save on system resources, do not use Persistent Sessions unless necessary

  3. For the fastest Layout switches, have all of your sources open and running, and have the Layout switch simply move existing sources from background to foreground - this will create near-instantaneous Layout switches.

  4. For Layout switches that deal with a large number of Sources, it is better to conserve resources by minimizing or closing Sources whenever possible.

Creating a Layout

Create all your Sources, then move them into the first arrangement.

Click Saved Layouts in the top-left corner of the screen, click Save as new layout, give it a name, and click OK.

Re-arrange Sources as required and repeat the process, keeping in mind the best practices above.

To update an existing Layout, create the arrangement and click the icon. To delete a Layout, click . The pulsing green icon represents the Layout that is currently playing.

Once your Layouts are saved, they can be switched by simply clicking each one.

Layout Switcher

See Content Switching

Access Permissions for Command & Control

The access permissions for a Command and Control module are listed below. Remember that in order for a user to be able to access Command & Control, they must also be granted access to that source’s Resource Group.

Permission

Description

Audio

Manage Source audio settings

Layout management

Create, update and delete layouts

Layout switching

Switch between existing layouts

Source activation

Open and close Sources from the list

Source interactive viewer

Use Interactive Viewer

Source management

Create, update and delete Sources

Source-instance arrangement

Minimize, maximize, and move Sources around the canvas

View access

View-only access

Supervisor Dashboard (BETA)

Though not fully production, by popular request Userful provides a tool to view one or more C&C dashboards from a single pane of glass - another Userful display, your own laptop or desktop, a tablet, etc.

This involves a Web browser (or Web Browser source) configured with a URL that points to the Userful server, with the addition of /dash at the end.

For example, if your Userful server is on your corporate network with an IP of 192.168.1.110, then the URL to access the Supervisor Dashboard would be http://192.168.1.110/dash.

This feature is only accessible over the LAN and not through Userful Manager due to the potential for very high bandwidth usage.

Supervisor Dashboard

Configuration

This example system has 3 servers: Server_1, Server_2 and Server_3. In order to create a dashboard accessible at[Server_1_address:port/dash], administrators need to configure the "Peer List" within the "General" section of the Userful Control Center settings: 1. Navigate to the Peer List of Server_1 and add Server_2 and Server_3 by filling out all required fields. 2. Navigate to the Peer List of Server_2 and add Server_1 by filling out all required fields. 3. Navigate to the Peer List of Server_3 and add Server_1 by filling out all required fields

In this case, [Server_1_address:port/dash] will show the control rooms of all three systems. Logging into [Server_2_address:port/dash] will only show control rooms from Server_1 and Server_2. Logging into [Server_3_address:port/dash] will only show control rooms from Server_1 and Server_3.

Control Access to Supervisor Dashboard

Administrators can control access to the Supervisor Dashboard through Role-based Access Control (RBAC) found in the Users screen of the Userful Control Center. When creating a new group, the Control Room Supervisor Dashboard flag in the Other Applications tab can be selected to enable dashboard access for all members of that group.

Using the Supervisor Dashboard

This view has a few options

  • FPS - Control the refresh rate of the wall, at the expense of additional bandwidth used

  • Refresh - Reload the view

  • Launch - Launch the full C&C interface in a new tab, if RBAC privileges allow

  • Hide/Show - disable or enable the feed

If the server is running more than one instance of C&C, or more than one Userful system is running a C&C session and is added to the Peer List, those C&C instances will also appear here.

Remote Access for Command & Control

Accessing Command & Control remotely can be done in either of two ways.

Command & Control through Userful Manager

Userful Manager connects with On-Premise servers using secure connections through the Cloud and enables access to C&C with only a few clicks. This is the recommended method of accessing C&C remotely.

Note that Role-Based Acces Control is not available with this method.

Command & Control via VPN

Accessing Command & Control through your company VPN is also viable. After establishing the VPN connection, you can access the Control Center in the same way you would on your local network.

Using Live Updates will generate significant network traffic. You should ensure a minimum of 50Mbit/s bandwidth provisioned for each user on the VPN. This requirement will be reduced in future releases with the coming development of HLS streaming.