In addition to numerous improvements and new features, the latest version 4.6.0 of FrontFacealso offers new design options for playlists and touch menus: With the so-called “Container Style”, characteristics such as background colors/gradients, border type, color and thickness can be set for all media objects as well as settings for drop shadow or glow effects. This opens up numerous new possibilities for eye-catching playlists and touch menus e.g., for digital bulletin boards.
The version also brings the following new features and improvements:
NEW: Each media object now has a “Container Style” attribute. This allows configuring drop shadow, background, and border settings for each media object for even more individual designs
NEW: Update of OSK (On Screen Keyboard) component to newer version
NEW: Background music now continues to play when navigating different content in a touch menu
NEW: If only one (daily) timer is defined in scheduling, the playlist will always be played, regardless of the actual date and time of the player’s system clock
NEW: If any hidden or invisible containers are included in a layout, the container list is automatically displayed, and the hidden container is indicated semi-transparently
NEW: The Pinboard layout has been improved and can optionally be updated (if already used)
FIX: Optimization of link support for integrating PDF and XPS files
FIX: Fixed bug when scrolling/paging playlist pages
FIX: Loading of the provider logo in the weather optimized
FIX: Optimization of the automatic image reduction when adding large-sized images
FIX: Optimized brush picker/color picker controls and bug fixes
FIX: Fixed bug when bulk importing images in touch menu
FIX: Fixed navigation problems (forward/back) with hot folders
FIX: The integrated, Chromium-based browser engine of FrontFace has been updated. As a result, numerous recent security fixes have been integrated.
The FrontFace digital signage software is not only available for Windows, but also for the Android operating system. In addition to tablets, media player boxes and mini PCs with Android as well as TVs with integrated Android TV, the compact Fire TV Stick from Amazon can also be used as player hardware. The multimedia stick from Amazon is particularly suitable for small, budget-sensitive standalone installations. In addition to the normal model, there is also a 4K version, which offers a higher resolution, and a Lite version, which is completely sufficient for digital signage purposes.
A few steps are required to install FrontFace on a Fire TV Stick. Since the stick only has a single micro-USB port, which is required for connecting the included power supply unit, a so-called USB-OTG Y-adapter cable with a micro-USB 2.0 connector and USB socket type A is recommended, at least for installation. This allows to connect a USB stick or a keyboard in addition to the power supply.
First, a file manager app from the “appstore” must be installed on the Fire TV after the regular setup process of the device has been completed. The free app “File Explorer” is recommended here.
The File Explorer app must then be allowed to install apps from unknown sources so that FrontFace can be installed via “sideload”. To do this, go to “Settings” > “My Fire TV” > “Developer Options” > “Install Unknown Apps”. Then select the “On” option for the “File Explorer” app.
Now a USB stick with the APK file of the FrontFace software must be inserted (you can download the APK file directly from the FrontFace Assistant in the “Players” menu). The APK file is then installed on the Fire TV Stick using the File Explorer app.
After the installation is complete, start the FrontFace Player App from the menu of the Fire TV Stick.
Next, FrontFace needs to be set up: The publishing folder must be selected in accordance with the publishing method used. In most cases, the “Web Server” publishing method is the best choice. You then need to specify the URL of a web server where the content is published to using the FrontFace Assistant. The FrontFace Player App then automatically fetches the new content from that source over the Internet.
Finally, the option to start FrontFace automatically when the Fire TV Stick is switched on can be activated if this is desired. By clicking on “Start Player” the setup is complete and the FrontFace Player App will display the published content on the screen and update itself automatically once new content has been published.
If you work a lot with Office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and eventually, even use SharePoint as your intranet platform, there is often an inevitable need to integrate such files also in digital signage playlists or on interactive kiosk terminals.
When working with FrontFace, there are different ways how such an integration can be done:
1.) Integration as PDF, Print2Screen or Video
In this case, the Office files are converted into another format or exported with the respective desktop applications so that they can be displayed directly in FrontFace. As an alternative to exporting PDF documents, the Print2Screen function by FrontFace can also be used. This often gives better results in regards to display quality. In the case of PowerPoint presentations, you can either create page-by-page exports as PDF or Print2Screen, or export as video. This has the advantage that all animations and cross-fading effects from PowerPoint are fully retained. You should make sure that you always create an MP4 file and not use the old WMV format, since WMV files are significantly larger and often of poorer quality.
2.) Integration Using the Native Desktop Apps
FrontFace also enables the direct integration of EXE files in playlists and touch menus via the media object “External Application”. This way, the Office applications can be directly integrated and the file to be opened can be set in command line. A list of the available command line parameters of the Office applications can be found at Microsoft. The command line parameters allow, e.g. a PowerPoint presentation to be started directly.
However, this type of integration has some disadvantages: First of all, the Office applications must be installed on the player PC and an Office license must be available. Furthermore, security concerns can also play a role, since users with access to the system could change the files and at the same time gain access to the file system of the player PC, for example in the “Open File” dialog. Furthermore, you should also keep in mind that FrontFace starts and exits an external application here, over which there is otherwise no further control. Therefore, a direct integration of native desktop apps is only a sensible choice in a few cases.
3.) Integration via Office 365 / SharePoint as Web Page
If the Office files to be displayed are hosted on Office 365 (OneDrive or SharePoint), there is another, very elegant way for integration: As a web page in FrontFace. To do this, the file (Word, Excel or PowerPoint) must first be stored in a SharePoint document library or on OneDrive. A sharing link can then be created using the “Share” function. It is important that the “Allow editing” option is deactivated here (if desired) and otherwise the “Anyone” and “No password” sharing options are selected.
If you now open the link created in this way in a browser, the file appears in the respective online version of the Office application:
Often, however, only the display of the file contents itself is desired and therefore the display with the menu ribbon of the Office application is not what you want. Do adjust this, an additional parameter has to be appended to the URL which is:
This ensures that only the document is displayed and nothing else. There are a few other parameters that can be used for certain Office applications:
Supported Office Application
Enabled the “full screen display” of the document without the GUI of the Office online application
Hide grid lines
Hide column headings
Allow entries in calculating cells
Cell to be initially displayed / active
Hide download button
Prevent emedding codes
Page to be shown initially
Which of the methods presented here for integrating Office documents in FrontFace playlists and touch menus you use ultimately depends on the particular use case and the basic conditions.
The latest version 4.4.6 of our digital signage & kiosk software FrontFaceoffers lots of improvements as well as a very special, new function that has repeatedly been requested by our customers: Multi-user support! Although multiple users have previously been able to edit a FrontFace project from different PCs if the project was stored in a jointly accessible storage location (e.g. a network drive), in this scenario all users had the same, full access rights to the project.
With the new (optional) multi-user support, several user accounts can now be created in a FrontFace project, and users can then be granted different access rights to the various areas of a project (e.g. Players, Content, Scheduling, Publication, etc.). In this way, on the one hand, an authorization structure can be mapped and, on the other hand, the complexity of the user interface of the FrontFace Assistant can be radically reduced so that a user is only shown the allowed areas and functions.
When opening a project, the user has to log in with a user name and password and is then given the configured scope of access. In addition to normal users, one or more administrator accounts can be created, which have full access to the project and at the same time also allow the administration of the user accounts.
However, the new multi-user feature is not mandatory in a FrontFace project. As before, in the default case, the project is opened normally using the FrontFace Assistant and no user account is required for logging in. In the case of new projects, the multi-user support can be activated when creating the project, if necessary. For existing projects in which the multi-user support is not yet active, it can be activated at any time in the settings dialog. In addition to that, the function can also be disabled again.
Here is an overview of the most important new features and changes in version 4.4.6:
NEW: Optional multi-user mode for projects with dedicated rights assignment for individual users and password protection.
NEW: Paging function (e.g. page 1/x) for text elements (such as “title”) in toolbars when displaying multi-page content as well as support for placeholders.
NEW: Optional hiding of areas (left, center, right) in toolbars for even more design freedom.
NEW: Text editor and dialog for editing formatted text for text media objects has been improved and is now more intuitive in terms of line breaks and font sizes.
NEW: Improved copy & paste of formatted text in the text media object dialog.
NEW: Installation file of the Android version can now be downloaded on demand and is no longer a fixed part of the regular installation package.
NEW: New section on “Automatic startup and shutdown of player PCs” in the user manual.
FIX: Improvements regarding displaying text media objects on Android devices.
FIX: Fixed a problem with the “Launch Explorer Shell” feature when exiting the Player App as a shell replacement.
The latest version again brings a lot of new features and improvements. Here in an overview of the recent changes:
NEW: Click2Zoom function now available for many media objects: Media objects can be displayed in a “full-screen mode” by interactively “clicking” on them. Perfectly suited for all types of digital notice boards!
NEW: Click actions are now available for many media objects.
NEW: Many media object dialogs have been revised and now also support the expert mode.
NEW: Audio Media Object – now WAV, MP3 or WMA files can be integrated as media objects, including optional, interactive control (play/pause, rewind and seek).
NEW: The audio playback action now enables the direct selection of audio files.
NEW: The integrated browser engine has been updated to Chromium 84 and brings many improvements, also in terms of rendering performance.
NEW: Optional “Download & Execute” function in the web browser is now available, e.g., to be able to view Office files on a SharePoint Web page.
NEW: Detailed description in the manual how to set up the publishing of content over the cloud (e.g., Dropbox) with the Android version of the FrontFace Player App.
NEW: Useful tips and tricks for working with FrontFace can now optionally be displayed on the FrontFace Assistant’s start page.
FIX: Scrolling web pages now also works with pages that previously did not scroll due to design limitations.
FIX: Improved security of the integrated web browser when the Safe Mode is activated (e.g., prevention of file uploads, etc.).
FIX: Improvement scaling of the Player App’s maintenance menu on systems with very high DPI values.
FIX: The ability to cancel long publishing processes and the loading process of the preview have been improved.
FIX: When starting sequential playlists by an event (e.g., using the Remote Control Plugin), a page index can now be specified from which the playlist should be started.
FIX: The integrated on-screen keyboard has been updated to the latest version.
Existing customers that are entitled to obtain free updates & support can download the latest version for free. Prospects may download a fully functional, free 14 days trial version.
With the new FrontFace Player App for Android, you can now use Android-based devices as players. In addition to tablets, these also include inexpensive media player boxes and devices with integrated Android TV. Devices with Android version 8 (“Oreo”) or higher are supported.
The FrontFace Player App for Android offers a reduced range of functions compared to the Windows version: Only non-interactive functions (classic digital signage playlists) are supported. Interactive touch menus are only supported on the Windows platform. In addition, some features such as “Hot Folder” are also not available on Android. A detailed overview of the differences between the Windows and Android versions of the FrontFace Player App can be found on the FrontFace Website.
The creation and management of content, as well as the scheduling is carried out as usual with the convenient FrontFace Assistant on Windows. Here you can manage your Android players, create, and edit playlists and then publish them on the Android players.
The new FrontFace Player App for Android is perfectly suited for simpler and cost-sensitive use cases and applications: Digital shop window advertising, menu boards for restaurants, snack bars and canteens or simple information screens, etc. – Thanks to the combination of extremely inexpensive Android hardware and the also lower-priced FrontFace Player license for Android, you can now implement appealing digital signage installations, even with very low budgets!
We continuously improve FrontFace by releasing new features, fixing bugs, and delivering updated documentation.
Please note that there has been a change in the system requirements for this version as well as a change regarding to license activation (highlighted in red below)!
Here are the most important changes of version 4.3.7:
NEW: Weather media object now shows the probability of rain for the forecasts.
NEW: Weather media objects comes with a brand new icon set called “Comic”:
FIX: Weather media object has a new icon for changing weather that is “more positive“ regarding sunshine.
FIX: Update to an entirely new, Chromium-based browser engine (using Chromium 79) with a fully isolated/sandboxed architecture for more stability and security.
NEW: Optional progress bar for countdown and egg timer mode of the date/time clock media object for visualizing the remining time.
NEW: PDF documents (local and Web) linked in Web pages can now be viewed using the Web page media object.
FIX: Starting with this version, FrontFace requires .NET Framework 4.8 (on most Windows 10 computers, this version of the .NET Framework is already preinstalled!).
NEW: Videos can now optionally be started automatically or not when being used in a touch menu button playlist.
FIX: Dedicated actions for showing and hiding the onscreen keyboard have been added as an extension to the previously existing toggle keyboard action.
FIX: Settings dialog of Player App (Maintenance Menu) is designed more clearly.
FIX: Fixed a problem with assigning non-existing playlists to event sources.
FIX: Idle timer to return to home page of a touch menu now also works correctly, when the user is interacting with a Web page that uses the “Chromium (for Touch)” browser engine.
FIX: Editing players within a player group now works correctly in all cases.
FIX: Fixed an issue with publishing player groups.
FIX: Fixed a problem with adding background audio files to playlist pages.
FIX: Fixed a problem with overlay playlists triggered by an event source that did not show up.
FIX: All actions that are only available in certain contexts are now context-sensitive.
FIX: To label the language selection buttons in multi-lingual touch menus, the language names are now used in their native representation (German, English, Français, etc.).
FIX: Whitelist filter of the Web page media object now also behaves correctly in case there are invalid entries in the whitelist.
FIX: Due to a change in the license activation system, it can happen under certain circumstances that your FrontFace license must be reactivated after the update. However, due to the change, the activation code is now much more robust to Windows feature updates, which in the past partially made a reactivation necessary when being installed!
FIX: Minor bug fixes.
Updates for FrontFace Plugins:
In addition to the new version 4.3.7 of FrontFace, there are also some updates for the optional plugins available:
Everyone knows those handy sticky notes! And now, there is also a digital counterpart of it for the FrontFace Digital Signage & Kiosk software.
With the Sticky Note plug-in, classic sticky notes can be easily integrated as media objects in playlist pages and touch menus.
There are many possible uses for this: On non-interactive systems, digital black boards can be made even more realistic and text messages can be presented in an appealing way.
On the other hand, the full functionality of the new plug-in can be used on touch screen systems. You can use the on-screen keyboard to write or edit texts on the sticky note. In pen/ink mode, you can also draw on the sheet freehand with your fingers or a pen. An integrated context menu allows the content to be deleted with a single click or to toggle the “highlight” mode.
Thus, the plug-in is not only suitable for the visually appealing design of digital bulletin boards but can also be used in interactive mode as a “mini-collaboration tool”, where e.g. employees can leave messages or notes for colleagues.
How about making the home page of your touch menu livelier and more interesting? By displaying a scrolling news ticker tape with news headlines (RSS feed) or with your own news (custom text), you can do this easily with FrontFace. Just open the settings dialog of your touch menu:
Then click on the selection arrow below “Menu Layout” on the right…
…and select the “Main Menu with Ticker” layout. This layout already contains an additional container above the lower toolbar, which is pre-assigned with a news ticker.
After you have selected that layout, you can open the ticker settings dialog by clicking on the container with the ticker.
Many options for individually adjusting the ticker are available here. In addition to the displayed content (RSS feed or free text), you can also customize the visual design, such as colors, font and the scrolling speed.
You can either enter the messages line by line as custom text or enter the path/URL of an RSS feed or a plain text file either on a web server (via HTTP) or on a file server (UNC file path). If you provide an RSS or plain text file as a source, you can also set the “feed update interval” in minutes. After the specified time, the feed is retrieved again. In the meantime, a cached version is being used.
The appearance of the ticker can be tailored to your needs in terms of scrolling speed, colors, fonts, etc. You can also specify a title (prefix) that remains static in front of the scrolling text. For languages like Hebrew or Arabic, you can also change the scrolling direction of the ticker.
Finally, use the preview button of the FrontFace Assistant to check the results:
In this tutorial we will show you two very helpful features for your interactive touch menus with FrontFace: The “Back to Home Page” function automatically returns the menu to the start page if a user leaves the terminal without clicking “Home” button on leaving. With the screen saver feature, you can supply your kiosk terminal with additional, moving content when there is no interaction and usage.
Back to Home Page
When a user leaves the terminal without returning to the start page of the touch menu, a certain period of minutes can be defined after which the system automatically returns to the top level menu of the touch menu when there is no more interaction.
To configure this setting, open the settings dialog of the touch menu:
Here is the “Interaction Timeout” setting. Set the desired duration (e.g. 15 minutes). This ensures that the menu returns to the start page after 15 minutes without interaction.
As a result, a subsequent user can start the navigation directly from the main menu level (“Home Screen”) and does not have to manually click the “Home” button first.
Digital Signage Screensaver
Especially for interactive systems such as kiosk terminals, it is desirable to display appealing, moving content on the screen (e.g. advertising or specific calls for action) when the system is not being used interactively. You can easily create an individual screen saver with FrontFace:
First create a playlist (in addition to your touch menu), which will serve as screen saver.
Here you can insert any media objects, for example pictures, videos, slideshows, web pages or texts. In addition, with the help of a suitable screen layout, you can also add static overlay text or even scrolling text with a call for action (CFA) such as “Tap here for more information …” or “Please touch the screen!”.
Then switch to the “Scheduling” section in the Assistant and activate the “Advanced Scheduling”. Then click on the + icon in the “Event Sources” list to create a new event source.
Click on “Install a new event source plugin” and select the plugin file for the screensaver. This is named “Screensaver.ffapx” and is located in the “C:\Program Files\mirabyte\FrontFace\Plugins\” folder.
After installing the plugin, select it and click OK.
Finally, you specify the number of minutes and the previously created playlist as a screen saver: