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Important Update for the Integrated Weather Module of FrontFace

FrontFace for Public Displays and FrontFace for Touch Kiosks include an integrated weather chart module that can show the current weather conditions and a 3-day forecast for any place on earth. The data source for this module is Weatherunderground.com (a company of “The Weather Channel”).

Weatherunderground.com has been recently acquired by IBM and the new owner has decided to shut down operations by 31-12-2018. Therefore, after this date, the weather module will not be able to show data anymore!

We have now migrated our service to a new weather data provider. Therefore it is required that you update your FrontFace installation to the latest version to allow you to continue using the weather module as before (Installation of the latest version of FrontFace on all PCs where FrontFace is being installed!).

Please notice: It is required that you once again set the location for the weather module after installing the update. Otherwise, the weather module will show information for “New York” or another major city in your region as default.

All customers that have a valid updates & support subscription get the update, as always, for free. If your updates & support subscription has expired, please consider a renewal if you want to continue using the weather module in the future. A renewal can be purchased in the online customer account section of our Website.

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Interactive Quizzes for Digital Signage Screens and Kiosk Terminals

Quiz shows are very popular on TV! One of the things that makes this format so successful is the fact that anybody can participate without having to interact directly, simply by answering the questions for him or herself.

This does not only work on TV but also on digital signage screens and interactive kiosk terminals where a quiz is perfectly suited to enliven the displayed content and to engage users.

mirabyte offers the Quiz Plugin which is part of the Entertainment Pack. It allows you to integrate quiz elements into your playlists or interactive touch screen menus.

The plugin is compatible with FrontFace for Public Displays and FrontFace for Touch Kiosks. It supports an interactive mode where the user can select an answer from the displayed answer alternatives using the touch screen and a non-interactive mode where a countdown is displayed until the correct answer is revealed. In addition to that, the integrated, optional audio feature can help to create a true “quiz show feeling”!

It is possible to adjust the design and the look and feel of the plugin. That way, you can match it with your corporate identity, e.g. regarding colors or fonts. The plugin comes with a ready to use database of 100 trivia questions. But you can also use the included quiz editor app to create your own questions database, e.g. to raise questions like “When was our company founded?” on the screen. This is truly a cool feature for welcome and reception screens or for waiting room displays in medical surgeries, just to name a few applications.

Download the free trial version of the Quiz Plugin for FrontFace and experience how this interesting addon can help you to do even more with your digital signage or kiosk installation!

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Tipp: Personalized Birthday Wishes with FrontFace for Public Displays

Did you know that there is a super-easy way to display personalized birthday wishes, e.g. for employees within your screen presentations?

Simply use the new feature that we have added to the latest version (3.9.2) of FrontFace for Public Displays:

Add a new page to your regular playlist and insert a custom birthday message for the employee (e.g. an image or XPS that you have created using PowerPoint).

Then head over to the “Visibility” tab in the settings dialog of that playlist page (“Edit Page”) and select the birthday of the person in question as start and end date for the page visibility. Make sure that you also tick the “Annual Repeat” checkbox so that the page becomes visible every year on that date.

This will now add the extra page to your regular playlist at the given position whenever the birthday of the employee is due.

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Spring Update: FrontFace for Public Displays 3.9.0 and FrontFace for Touch Kiosks 2.2.0

The new version 3.9.0 of our professional digital signage software FrontFace for Public Displays and version 2.2.0 of our interactive touch kiosk software FrontFace for Touch Kiosks are available now! These new releases again come with a lot of great new features and improvements that we would like to share with you:

FrontFace for Public Displays 3.9.0

The new version of our professional digital signage software for all sorts of information and advertising screens comes with a lot of major features and improvements:

NEW: Modernized Browser Engine
The integrated browser engine for displaying HTML5/CSS3 Web pages within playlists has been updated to a modern, state of the art version (based on Chromium 55). This allows you to embed any kind of Web pages that run fine in the recent versions of Google Chrome in your FrontFace playlists. Furthermore, you can select between two different rendering modes which address different types of content and applications (e.g. one is optimized for video playback and touch interaction while the other is focused on seamless integration even with overlay page layouts and transition effects). The new version also supports touch interaction with common multi-touch gestures like swipe or pinch to zoom.

NEW: Shuffle Mode for Picture Slideshows
The feature that lets you integrate pictures and photos as slideshows into your playlists (also with optional MotionZoom effect) now supports a shuffle mode for random playback. This can help to make your playlists more interesting and less predictable even if only a few pictures are used.

NEW: End of Support for Windows XP and .NET Framework 4.6.1 System Requirement
Due to the introduction of the new Web browser engine we had to drop Windows XP and Windows Vista support with this release. If you still use one of these operating systems, please stay with version 3.8.3 of FrontFace. Generally, we recommend updating to Windows 7 or Windows 10. FrontFace supports all Windows versions starting with Windows 7.

Click here for more information…

FrontFace for Touch Kiosks 2.2.0

The new version of our flexible solution for interactive touch screen systems and kiosk terminals, FrontFace for Touch Kiosks, comes with a bunch of new features, interesting updates and significant improvements:

NEW: User Tracking with Piwik
The free, popular Web analytics software Piwik (similar to Google Analytics) is not only great for tracking users on Web pages, it can now also be used to track the usage of FrontFace for Touch Kiosks-enabled kiosk terminals. That way, you can find out how often your terminal is used, how many users have been using your system and which content they have consumed. Also click-paths can be analyzed which helps you to further improve your system. The only thing that you need is a Web server with a Piwik installation and you are good to go: Simply supply the URL to the Piwik server in the settings menu of the Kiosk Assistant and you can start to collect data from your kiosk terminal. Reports can then be accessed using a Web browser on the normal Piwik dashboard. Since the users are only identified in an anonymized way, you do not have to worry about privacy issues when using the tracking feature. Also, the collected data remains with you and is not passed on to 3rd parties.

NEW: Chromium-based PDF Viewer
FrontFace for Touch Kiosks natively supports the PDF format so you can view PDF files in your touch screen menus without having to install a 3rd party application like Acrobat Reader. The new alternative way for viewing PDF files is based on the Chromium browser engine and allows to also navigate hyperlinks within the PDF document (both, internal and external). Paging through a multi-page document is implemented as a vertical scroll through in this new mode. You can select if you want to use the new mode or the traditional one.

NEW: Content Access Protection with Password or RFID/Bar Code/Smart Card
Many customers have been asking for this new feature which allows to protect certain menu items in the touch screen menu. You can either set a password which the user will then have to enter (using the on-screen keyboard) in order to continue navigation or you can integrate an ID system such as RFID readers, bar code scanners or Smart Card systems. In case of ID systems, you can centrally store a whitelist (ACL) with the IDs of allowed users, e.g. on a network share. Any ID device that supports the so called “keyboard emulation” mode can be used with FrontFace. For almost all devices that are currently available, this is the case.

NEW: Many Improvements and Optimizations
Apart from many minor improvements and bug fixes we have also optimized the multi-screen support which now also works fine if the screens use different DPI settings (which is supported by Windows 10 systems).

Click here for more information…

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Integrating Live Content Easily: Hot Folder

The Display Assistant (content management application) of FrontFace for Public Displays is a very easy-to-use and truly convenient tool to create and manage your digital signage playlists with different types of content like images, videos, PDFs, HTML pages and more and to configure the time and event based scheduling. Even though the application is highly intuitive and using it is easy to learn, there are situations where one just would like to say:

“Instantly display any file on the screen that has been saved in a specific folder!”

So to say a “no-management” content management! Exactly this feature is available in FrontFace for Public Displays and is called “Hot Folder”:

The setup is simple: Just add a hot folder content object to your playlist and provide the path to a folder on a network share as the designated “hot folder”. Once the playlist is shown on the screen and the page with the hot folder appears, the player application will access that folder and show all files which it finds in there right at this point of time. That way, also multiple files can be integrated using the hot folder feature (e.g. a slide show).

The hot folder feature is perfect to allow totally unexperienced users to manage the content on your displays. E.g. the office assistant of a school can update a time table on the digital backboard (= public display) by simply saving an updated version of the PDF document with the time table in a predefined folder on a network share. The content will then instantly appear on the screen and no further steps are needed!

Another application for the hot folder feature is to use it for automated integration of 3rd party systems: External applications can e.g. generate reports automatically and save/copy these directly into the hot folder. This can save you from implementing complex integration interfaces or bridges in many cases!

Learn more about the hot folder feature and download a free trial version of FrontFace for Public Displays!

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Displaying Excel Spreadsheets on Digital Signage Info Screens

FrontFace for Public DisplaysThe digital signage software FrontFace for Public Displays supports various content, media and file formats that you can use to build your playlists. Besides images, videos, Web pages, text and PDF documents you can also integrate content from any Windows application that supports printing, thanks to the unique Print2Screen feature of FrontFace! That way, it is also possible to integrate Excel spreadsheets very easily.

Integrating Excel files into digital signage playlists can be extremely helpful, especially when you are building digital blackboards or dashboards that show BI figures or sales/production related data.

But in some cases it may be desired to directly integrate the “original” Excel file and not just a Print2Screen virtual printout. This also eliminates the requirement that whenever the Excel file gets updated, an update of the Print2Screen printout has to be created as well.

excel-plugin

In order to integrate Excel files directly into FrontFace playlists, the optional “App Integration Plugin” comes into play: This plugin can start any Windows application with a customizable command line automatically on the screen and also closes the application again, once the content is supposed to disappear again. That way, you can compose stunning playlists that do not only contain multimedia content like images, slideshows, videos, Web pages or text but also native Excel files that are being displayed in exactly the same way as if you would open them in Microsoft Excel.

Here are the steps you have to take in order to integrate Excel spreadsheets into your FrontFace playlists:

  1. excel-ribbonMake sure that Excel is installed on your player PC. Start Excel manually and select the “Auto-hide Ribbon” option in order to make Excel run in full screen mode without the common ribbon interface that is only required for editing spreadsheets.
  2. Download the “App Integration Plugin” and install it in your project using the Display Assistant. For detailed instructions on how to install a plugin in FrontFace, please see the FrontFace user manual.
  3. Next, add a new page to your playlist and select the “Full Screen” layout. Add a plugin as content and select the “App Integration Plugin” from the list of installed plugins.
  4. excel-pluign-settingsIn the settings dialog of the plugin you need to enter the path to the file “EXCEL.exe”. When using Office 2016 in combination with Office 365, the file is usually located here: “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\EXCEL.EXE”. Please keep in mind that the path refers to the installation of Excel on the player PC! If you also want to run the preview of your playlist in the Display Assistant, Excel needs to be installed on your PC at exactly the same path as well.
  5. As command line options, please enter “/e”, “/r” and the path to your Excel file in quotation marks. You can either provide a UNC network path that is also accessible from the player PC or our can add the Excel file directly to your FrontFace project. In order to do so, please copy the file into the “\Media\Static\” folder of your project and reference it as “%STATICDIR%\MyFile.xlsx” in the settings dialog of the plugin. When publishing your project, the file will be transferred on the player PC automatically.
  6. Finally, you should select the “Normal Exit Mode” in order to prevent any potential complaints by Excel that the application may have been terminated unexpectedly. You should also tick the “Start Application Maximized” option to make Excel appear as maximized window.
  7. Once you applied all the required settings, just publish the project to your player PC or run the preview in the Display Assistant.

When your playlist is shown and the playlist page with the plugin appears, Excel is started automatically and shows your spreadsheet in full screen mode. After the predefined display time of the playlist page has elapsed, Excel is closed again automatically and the next playlist page is shown.

Warning: Since Excel only supports one instance of the application at a time, please make sure that you do not use the plugin on two consecutive playlist pages. You always have to make sure that at least one page that does not use the plugin is between two pages that use the plugin!

For more information about the digital signage software FrontFace for Public Displays, please visit the mirabyte homepage!

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FrontFace for Touch Kiosks: Doodle Board Plugin

The new Doodle Board Plugin extends the possible use cases of FrontFace for Touch Kiosks in regards to entertainment applications. The plugin allows children to express their creativity by painting on a “virtual” sheet of paper with various colors.

doodleboard

The plugin is perfectly suited for use cases in waiting areas or waiting rooms (e.g. a doctor’s waiting room). That way, a touch screen kiosk terminal (e.g. an AIO all-in-one PC or a tablet PC) can not only be used to offer interactive access to various types of information and multimedia content using FrontFace for Touch Kiosks, but also for entertainment purposes – now covering users of all ages!

The Doodle Board Plugin is available as free trial version for download and can be purchased as part of the Entertainment Pack that also includes the Quiz Plugin and some nicely-made video loops (aquarium and fireplace).

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FrontFace for Public Displays 3.8.0 and FrontFace for Touch Kiosks 2.1.0

In the latest releases of our digital signage software FrontFace for Public Displays and our interactive touch kiosk software FrontFace for Touch Kiosks we have incorporated, among various minor improvements and optimizations, two new major features which we would like to share with you in the following:

Migration to .NET Framework 4.6.1
Starting with the recent releases, all FrontFace products require .NET Framework 4.6.1 or higher. During the installation process this system requirement is checked and if required, the necessary prerequisites are downloaded and offered for installation automatically. On Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 systems, the new .NET Framework is already present so there is nothing to care about. Also on most Windows 7 systems, .NET Framework 4.6.1 is already installed.

Due to the switch to the new .NET Framework versions, the support for Windows XP and Windows Vista ends. In case you are still using these Windows version, you cannot install the latest versions of FrontFace.

The only exception from these new system requirements apply to the FrontFace Player Application of FrontFace for Public Displays which is still supported on Windows XP and .NET Framework 4.0 (Full Profile). This means that you can still run the FrontFace for Public Displays Player Application on Windows XP (Embedded) systems. We have decided to keep Windows XP support for this component because still some customers run Windows XP Embedded-based player PCs.

New plugin format and simplified installation process for plugins
Plugins offer a great way to add extra functionality to the FrontFace products in order to enhance the set of available use cases of the software. Until now, the installation process of plugins required some manual action (copying of DLL files). With this release, we have introduced a new file format for plugins (*.ffapx) and added a convenient installation wizard for plugins. This means that now even less experienced users are able to install and use plugins. For customers that want to stick to an older version of FrontFace, the manual installation process is still supported. Please see the knowledge base article on manually installing plugins in that case: Instructions for FrontFace for Public Displays or Instructions for FrontFace for Touch Kiosks

The latest versions of FrontFace (both full and trial versions), as well as the available plugins, can be downloaded here:

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Integration of Appointment and Calendar Data in Digital Signage & Kiosk Applications

feature_dataIn addition to the powerful standard features that FrontFace for Public Displays (Digital Signage Software) and FrontFace for Touch Kiosks (Kiosk Software) have to offer, additional functionality can be easily added by so called plugins, which are available separately. Specifically, the plugins for integrating appointment and calendar data are very popular and significantly increase the range of possible use cases and applications of the FrontFace software products.


1.) Displaying Timetables, Calendars and Room Occupancy Plans

The new Schedules and Timetables Plugin 2.0 now provides even more flexibility for integrating calendar data from various data sources and for displaying it in a visually appealing way. Here is what the new version has to offer:

  • Views: Table/grid view, calendar view (day, week or month) or single view, e.g. for digital door signs.
  • Data Sources: Microsoft Exchange Server (Outlook), Lotus Domino Server (Lotus Notes), iCalendar (ICS file, e.g. from Google Calendar) or an Excel spreadsheet.

schedule_en_1

No matter if you are using Outlook/Exchange, Lotus Notes/Domino, an Excel spreadsheet or an iCalendar-compatible system, such as Google Calendar, to manage your appointments ‒ the new Schedules and Timetables Plugin 2.0 lets you integrate these data sources directly into your playlists or touchscreen front-ends. You can choose from many visualizations such as table/grid view, calendar view (day, week, month) or a single appointment view (e.g. for digital door signs).

Download the free trial version of the new Schedules and Timetables plugin for FrontFace for Public Displays or FrontFace for Touch Kiosks! In order to allow a smooth start, we also recommend to have a look at the PDF quick start tutorial which is also included in the download!


2.) Controlling Playlists based on Calendar Appointments:

Specifically, for FrontFace for Public Displays, you can also use the event source plugins “Exchange Calendar”, “Lotus Domino Calendar” and “Calendar” (free of charge!) for another interesting way of integrating calendar data into your playlists: These plugins allow starting playlists based on appointments in a calendar. Furthermore, it is not only possible to start playlists but to also fill text and image placeholders with data from appointments. This way, you can e.g. easily create a professional welcome screen system that automatically welcomes visitors with a personalized message. The entire management is then done using applications like Outlook or Lotus Notes which makes this system very easy to use.

tv_welcome

The latest version of the calendar event source plugins also come with a new feature called “pre-run”. This allows you to define a timespan in minutes that will trigger an event before the actual appointment is due. This is great for managing the actual appointment data in the calendar and displaying the welcome message for every visitor e.g. 15 minutes earlier on the screen.

Download the free trial versions of the calendar event source plugins for FrontFace for Public Displays and the free quick start tutorial for welcome screens to learn how easy it actually is to build a professional, personalized welcome screen with FrontFace for Public Displays.

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FrontFace for Public Displays 3.7.0

FrontFace for Public DisplaysThe latest version 3.7.0 of our professional digital signage software FrontFace for Public Displays contains a completely redesigned Display Assistant application which comes with a brand-new icon set. In addition to that, the overall usability has also been improved further so that the Display Assistant offers you a truly intuitive user experience to manage and create your playlists, maintain your screens and schedules and to update player PCs or player PC groups with just a single click!

Display Assistant

But also the FrontFace player application has been enhanced by this update: When loading Web pages, you can now make the player application display an optional progress indicator animation which is very helpful for slow-loading Web pages so that someone who looks at the screen gets to know that the page is currently loading.

The integrated Remote Control Service (RCS) which can be used with the optional Remote Control Plugin has also been improved. You can now use a REST-based API to integrate 3rd party applications in order to start or stop playlists and to set the values of text and image placeholders.

Finally, we added some new, modernized layouts for digital blackboards. Apart from the classic “pin board style” you can now also choose the modern “magnet board style”. The blackboard layouts have also been optimized to support any screen resolution and orientation.

Digital Blackboard

The free trial version of FrontFace for Public Displays is available for download on our Web page. For existing customers that are eligible to obtain updates & support, the update is also – as always – available free of charge!

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