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.
Some important points to note are:
- Command & Control is best used with Google Chrome or the latest Microsoft Edge browser.
- Command & Control is only available to Enterprise license tiers.
- 1.In Userful Control Center, click on the New Source option. From the drop-down menu select the Command and Control option and provide 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
Drag-and-drop your Video Wall or Zone to the Command & Control source, ensure the zone is running, and click Apply.
Unlike other sources, Command & Control is not managed from the Userful Control Center or with an 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.
Command & Control should only be used 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.
Each instance of Command & Control created in UCC has its own Sources and operates independently of any others. To access Command & Control, click on the Control GUI button on the left side of the Userful Control Center. This will open Command & Control in a new browser tab.
The Command & Control interface appears.
A default Command & Control view
Functionalities present in the task bar are as follows:
Command & Control's Function Bar
- 1.Saved Layouts list (see Layouts, below).
- 2.System switcher: It helps view C&Cs of other systems on the LAN, if available.
- 3.Launch Camera: It launches USB or RTSP camera attached to the system, if available.
- 4.Source Names: It turns on source name overlays if Always Show Name is not checked.
- 5.Live Updates: It 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 the Userful Manager.
- 6.Enter/Exit Full Screen: Full-screens your browser for more screen real estate.
- 7.Help: It launches support resources.
- 8.Local Users: It lists active users in C&C via local login.
This setup is entirely different from the Userful Control Center and designed to be much more intuitive. There are a number of functions immediately available, but we should first create some Sources. Click on the Create New Source option.
Command & Control's Source list
Click on 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.
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 the Persistent session.
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 the UCC.
Click on the
option to edit a Source, or
delete to delete it.
Once you have created the sources, click on them to launch them from the taskbar.
Opening a Source from the List
You can either single-click to launch, or click-and-drag Sources on to the canvas.
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 its edges.
Resizing Sources like desktop applications
Enable or Disable live updates by clicking on the Live Updates section at the top.
Live Updates will enable or disable the streaming updates for a less resource-intensive experience
Enable or Disable name overlays for each source using the Source Name option.
Sources can have their names displayed on-screen for easier identification
Each Source has a set of sizing controls. From left to right, these are:
- Source Name: The name given to the Source during the setup.
- Volume Control: Mute/Unmute and Volume control.
- Minimize: Minimize the window to the bottom bar. The session continues running if Persistent Session checkbox is enabled.
- 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: It Stops and closes the Source.
Each Source also has its own action menu.
- Hide: It's used to Minimize the taskbar. The session continues running if the Persistent Session checkbox is checked.
- Deactivate: It stops and closes the Source, ending the session.
- Viewer: Views Interactive sources only. It opens the Interactive Viewer.
- Rename: It is used to Rename the source.
- Always Show Name: Always shows the Source name as an Overlay for that particular Source, irrespective of how Source Names are 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 allow you to save different configurations of Sources and recall them with a single click. Before creating layouts a few best practices to follow are:
- 1.Create all your Sources 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.
- Create all your Sources, then move them into the first arrangement.
- Click on the Saved Layouts option in the top-left corner of the screen.
- Click on the Save as new layout option and give it a name. 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 downloadicon. To delete a Layout, click on the deleteicon. The pulsing greenicon represents the Layout that is currently playing. Once your Layouts are saved, they can be switched by simply clicking each one.
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.
Though this functionality is still in its BETA version 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 a /dash at the end.
This feature is only accessible over the LAN and not through Userful Manager due to the potential for very high bandwidth usage.
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 in
[Server_3_address:port/dash]will only show control rooms from Server_1 and Server_3.
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.
This view has a few options
- Frames Per Second (FPS): It controls the refresh rate of the content playing on the video wall, at the expense of additional bandwidth used.
- Refresh: It is used to reload the view.
- Launch: It is used to launch the full C&C interface in a new tab if RBAC privileges allow.
- Hide/Show: It is used to 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.
Accessing Command & Control remotely can be done in either of the two ways.
Userful Manager connects with on-premise servers using secure connections through the cloud and enables access to Command & Control with only a few clicks. This is a recommended method for accessing it remotely.
You can also access Command & Control through your company's VPN. After establishing the VPN connection, you can access the Control Center in the same way you would on your local network.