Digital Signage

Written for version 1.0.2

What’s New

Online Management of Digital Signage Content

The Stingray Digital Signage application allows you to manage channel content that is displayed on in-store TV screens through the use of a web-based visual interface.

The application's screen is divided into six panels:

  1. Media Library
  2. Channels
  3. Playlists
  4. Editing
  5. Properties
  6. Actions Toolbar
legend

Stingray Digital Signage's workspace for managing content.

Navigation of the interface is mainly done with the mouse

Keyboard navigation within a panel can also be achieved to quickly move to an item and delete it:

  1. First select with the mouse any item seen within any panel.
  2. Then use the arrow keys to move to the desired asset.
  3. To remove it from its containing panel, use the delete button on the keyboard.

Currently, keyboard navigation is very limited and is restricted to this kind of list navigation only. For example, the keyboard does not dismiss dialogs and has limited functionality when interacting with input fields.

List Filtering

Items can be filtered differently through the use of media type, tags or by a search. Change how your items are displayed. Sort results further by name, date created or date modified.

Where? Found in most panels of the interface, wherever items are listed:

Filter by Media Type

Available only in the Active tab of the Media Library panel, use this dropdown to see one particular media type, or both in the same panel:

  1. All all type
  2. Images image type
  3. Video video type

If you still do not see the totality of your items, look for purple text below the filters advising you that items in panel are still being filtered. Check that your tags and search fields are clear, and when applicable, the file type selector is set to All.

Filter by Tags

  1. Type into the tags field () to find matching tags associated to items in the panel or dialog box.
  2. Any matching tags are filtered and appear as auto-suggestions that correspond to what's being typed, just below the tags field.
  3. You may make your selection from this dropdown list of tag suggestions.
  4. Multiple tags can be selected from the dropdown list, by holding down the Ctrl key while clicking on each tag.
  5. Clear the tags field to see all of your available items in that panel again.

Search by Item Name

  1. Type a string of characters in the Search () field.
  2. Only the items that contain the characters you are searching for in their name will be displayed.
  3. Clear the Search field to see all of your available items in that panel again.

Display Modes

Available only in the Channels, Playlists and Media Library (Active tab) panels, as well as in the Delete Manager and Force Delete Items dialog boxes, there are three display modes to view your items:

  1. Image grid
  2. Image list
  3. List

Sort By:

Order displayed items, either in ascending or descending order, by date created, date modified, or alphabetical order.

Media Library

Being the main panel at the centre of the screen, the Media Library serves to import, display, browse and select the different media to be displayed via playlists and channels. And in certain cases, it can also be used to recover deleted original media.

The Media Library panel is used to store, view and manage accessible media files.

Selecting any item from the Media Library panel will display its media properties in another panel called Properties to the right. For more on the properties panel, see Properties. Other than using the mouse, keyboard navigation may be more efficient in some cases; for this, see Navigation.

Use the three tabs from the right side of the Media Library panel's title bar to access its related subsections.

Media Library Tab: Active

Uploaded images and videos are found in Active, which is a tabbed subsection of the Media Library.

Populate your channels and playlists with items dragged from the Media Library's Active tab.

For details on how to sort and filter items in this panel, see List Filtering.

For more on editing channels and playlists, see Editing.

Active tab - tools in top left corner

Import
Trash
Replace
Preview

Active tab - importing one or more media files

Importing media can be done by simply dragging and dropping a single, or multiple files into the Media Library panel.

Alternatively, you can also add media files by clicking on the Import () icon from the top left corner of the Media Library panel's Active tab. You'll then select files via a dialog box.

The two categories of supported media file formats are images and videos:

  1. Images image: jpg, png
  2. Videos video: mkv, wmv, mpg, mpeg, mp4
Warning: importing images or video with dimensions not divisible by 2

For an upload to be successful, the media file’s dimensions (width x height) must be divisible by 2. For instance

When an upload fails, its status is indicated by this icon (), as seen in the Uploads tab. Select this erroneous item to see more about its status in the Media Properties panel to the right. Click on the provided link in the status for details about the error.

Active tab - deleting a media file

Once a media file is selected, it is possible to easily delete it by

  1. clicking on the trash (trash) icon that appears when mousing over the thumbnail
  2. or clicking on trash (trash) from the top left corner of the Media Library panel

Deleting Files in Use

If attempting to remove an item that is currently being used in another channel or playlist, the Force Delete Items dialog box will prompt you to take further action, as seen below:

Force Delete Items is there to remind you if the item you are attempting to delete is being used elsewhere

Active tab - updating a media file

Active tab - previewing a media file

A single item from the Media Library was selected for a preview; its title can be seen in the top left corner of the popup frame

Use the controls included with the preview player, found to the left of the thumbnail strip:

The left mouse button also has input commands:

To the right side of the thumbnail strip:

Use Preview to check media files of images and videos, as well as those in entire channels and playlists

Media Library Tab: Removed

removed

Removed is a tabbed subsection of the Media Library that temporarily holds your trashed original media, until the next publish

Tool in the left-hand corner of Removed tab

Return

Media Library Tab: Uploads

There are three phases of an item while it is being uploaded to the interface:

  1. upload phase
  2. end of upload phase
  3. processing phase

The status of an item during the initial “upload phase” will appear ONLY in the Uploads tab; its upload status icon in the lower right corner of the thumbnail will begin as GRAY, like so ().

Select an item from the Uploads tab; the link that appears in the panel to the right redirects you to its location in the Active tab

At the end of the upload phase of a media file

However, early in the processing phase these items cannot yet be placed into any playlists or channels

If replacing an item using Update Media () from the Active tab

The takeaway is that once an item reaches the Media Library's Active tab, it is ready to be used right away, regardless of whether this item has been updated subsequently.

Tool in the left-hand corner of Uploads

Clear

Channels

Use the Channels panel, found in the top-left corner of the interface, to create, delete, display, browse and select channels.

When a channel is selected

Beneath its orange title bar, the Channels panel displays a list of available channels.

Creating a Channel

Deleting a channel

When your chosen channel is selected, it can be deleted in a few ways:

Once done, this action cannot be reversed; so a user could potentially lose their work by inadvertently deleting a channel.

While this doesn’t delete the original media files contained, you will need to reassemble your channel content if you’ve made an error in deleting it.

It is possible to navigate the Channels panel with your keyboard; for more details, see section on Navigation.

For details on how to sort and filter items in this panel, see List Filtering.

Playlists

Use the Playlists panel, found on the left side of the screen, to create, delete, display, browse and select the playlists.

When a playlist is selected

Beneath its blue title bar, the Playlists panel displays available playlists.

Creating a Playlist

See tip further up for deleting files in use

Deleting a Playlist

For details on how to sort and filter playlists in this panel, see List Filtering.

It is possible to navigate the Playlists panel with your keyboard; for more details, see section on Navigation

Editing Playlists and Channels

Use the Editing panel, to select, add, delete, reorder and preview the content of a channel or playlist:

Editing: Instances and their Overrides

There is no Original/Override toggle switch in the Details section of the Properties panel when an instance is selected from the editing panel, because its values must remain identical between the original and its instance(s).

Editing: Instance Status and Position

Instances are depicted by thumbnails along the channel's or playlist's editing panel.

An item's status bar will indicate if it has any overrides. Values tested under Preview Constraints signal which of the items will be blocked, as seen in the second item above.

Adding Items to the Editing Panel

  1. Select either a channel or a playlist from their respective panels.
  2. Drag an item from either the Media Library or the Playlists panel.
  3. Drop it into the selected channel’s or playlist’s editing panel; the item then becomes an instance version of their original source.

Use the Editing panel to assemble playlist and channel content.

While it is possible to nest playlists into other playlists, a playlist cannot be added unto itself.

Deleting Instances While Editing

When an instance (i.e. playlist, image or video) from the editing panel is selected, it can be deleted from the containing playlist or channel in a few ways:

It is possible to navigate some aspects of the Editing panel with your keyboard; for more details, see section on Navigation

Do not attempt to use the Delete Manager () to delete an instance:

The Delete Manager is for removing the original source file or playlist from the Media Library or Playlist panels, as well as all of its instances everywhere.

Editing: Previewing Channel/Playlist Under Specific Conditions

Select an instance along the editing panel of a chosen channel or playlist to view its Instance Properties in the panel to the right.

Only channels are published

So while you can still check on the Preview Constraints of a playlist, playlists and its contents are only displayed (or blocked) if they are placed within a channel and a publish is made.

Previewing the Edit

Use the Preview () button in the editing panel to preview your channel/playlist contents.

Since the second item in the editing panel (background) is blocked, it is also absent from the previewer's thumbnail strip (foreground).

Properties Panel

Found on the right side of the screen, use the Properties panel to display, check and edit the values of your selected elements.

More specifically, it's with the Properties panel that publish exceptions (a.k.a. overrides) of an instance can be managed and/or modified.

Media Properties: Images and Videos

Here, the Media Properties panel serves to display and to modify values of an original video selected from the Media Library

Instance Properties

Use the Instance Properties panel to check and modify values of the selected instance

Playlist Properties

Use the Playlist Properties panel to check and modify original values of a playlist from the Playlists Panel

Channel Properties

Selecting a channel displays its values in the Channel Properties panel

Common sections in Properties

When an item is selected from any other panel such as Channels, Playlists, Media Library or the Editing panel, the following properties are displayed in the Properties panel.

Properties: Heading

Heading elements are seen at the top of any properties panel

Heading elements cannot be modified, but serve to quickly identify the currently selected item. Depending on context, the following elements populate the heading:

*The name of the currently selected item and its duration (for images only) can be modified in the Details section (see below).

Properties: Details

Modifying the fields in Details affects the original item as well as all of its instances

Properties: Schedule

The schedule allows for programming an item to be displayed at specific day and time ranges. Above, override values for an instance have been given but user decided to stay with the original values

Differences between the original and instance schedule sections

The Schedule section for original and instance versions, comprises

The Days icon () in the days field can be clicked on to quickly toggle among popular choices:

Naturally, you may manually toggle the check box of any individual day

Properties: Stores

Assign which stores will display your selected item. Here, the stores list belongs to an instance; with its switch above set to Original, it is exhibiting the original assignments of its source item

Seen only in the Properties for media files and playlists (as well as their instances), assign original items from the Media Library or Playlist panel to specific stores listed in this section.

The checkboxes to the left of each listed store name is toggled to alternate between two (2) states:

Other elements of the Stores section are also common among the original and instance versions:

New Stores” is a feature that is meant to facilitate the assignment of any new stores that are added to the Stores list. Naturally, you may manually toggle the check box of any individual store, existing or new at any time.

There are a few differences between the original and instance store sections in Properties:

Actions Toolbar

The Actions toolbar is anchored to the left side of the screen, to the left of Channels

Anchored on the left side of the screen, the Actions toolbar makes readily accessible the three most important actions in the app.

Actions: Publish Now

From the global toolbar on the left side of the screen, click on Publish Now () to schedule updates on channels immediately.

Be careful not to confuse saving changes with publishing changes:

Actions: Publish Manager

Instead of publishing immediately, channels can be published at a later time, within a 24 hour window:

Set channels to display their items automatically, within a 24h window with the Publish Manager

  1. Click on the Publish Manager () to open its dialog box.
  2. From there, click on either "Unspecified", or the clock icon () to the right.
  3. Select the hour and the minutes from the popup time selector.
  4. Click on “Confirm change publish schedule” to lock in the schedule.
  5. Clock of the Publish manager icon in the Actions toolbar turns orange (), to indicate that a publish is pending
  6. Once the publish passes, the icon reverts to its default appearance.

A publish in both cases (manually or time-triggered) will always publish all present channels for your brand.

Actions: Delete Manager

The third item in the Actions toolbar, click on Delete Manager to force the deletion of any images, videos, playlists and channels that have been uploaded/created, whether they are being used in channels and playlists, or not.

The Delete Manager is used to remove any item (and its instances when applicable) from the interface

Delete Manager Box - Selecting an item for deletion

  1. Click to fill in the checkbox to the right of its name.
  2. Do this to as many items as needed.
  3. Click the Delete button to confirm your decision.

Use Cases

Simple and Quick publish of images/videos

  1. Create a channel, then ensure it is selected from the Channels panel.
  2. Drag and drop assets from the Media Library into the channel’s editing panel below (i.e. Edit Channel).
  3. Preview your content if needed, quickest way is to use the big preview icon () in the editing panel, without adding any preview constraints.
  4. When satisfied, click Publish Now () from the Actions toolbar.

If on the weekends, for example, the displayed content needs to be different:

  1. Create two playlists, one for the weekdays, and one for the weekends.
  2. Select the weekday playlist: in the properties panel, select only the weekdays.
  3. Select the weekend playlist: in the properties panel, select only the weekend days.
  4. Add your content to these two playlists.
  5. Create a new channel, then ensure it is selected.
  6. Drag both playlists in this channel’s editing panel (i.e. Edit Channel).
  7. Click Publish Now () from the Actions toolbar.
  8. Your content will play indefinitely, with weekday and weekend playlists displaying content on their specified days, never overlapping.

Best Practices:

Importing One or Multiple Media Files Via Drag & Drop Method

  1. On your PC, locate and open the folder that contains your chosen file(s).
  2. Select your file(s) then drag and drop them into the Media Library panel.
  3. The files will be made available from the Active tab of the Media Library shortly after they are processed.

Importing One or Multiple Media Files Via Upload Dialog Box

  1. Click on the Import () button from the top left corner of the Media Library panel’s Active tab.
  2. In the resulting File Upload dialog box, select your files.
  3. The files will be made available from the Active tab of the Media Library shortly after they are processed.

Locating a Media File Using the Media Search Field

  1. Click on the Search () field from the Media Library panel’s Active tab.
  2. Using your keyboard, start typing your search term to filter your results in the Media Library panel.
  3. Only the files that match your search term will appear in the Media Library panel.

To display all of your media files again, clear all characters from the Search field.

If you still do not see the totality of your items, look for purple text below the filters advising you that items in panel are still being filtered. Check that your tags and search fields are clear, and when applicable, the file type selector is set to All.

Locating a Media File Using the Tags Field

  1. Click on the Tags () field from the Active tab of the Media Library panel.
  2. Using your keyboard, start typing to see existing tag matches listed just below the Tags field.
  3. Click on a tag among the matches or continue typing your desired length of characters, then hit Enter.
  4. Only the files with tags that correspond to your tag query will appear in the Active tab of the Media Library panel.
  5. Repeat steps 1 to 4 as necessary to add more tags to the field.

To display all of your media files again, simply clear all tags from the Tags field.

If you still do not see the totality of your items, look for purple text below the filters advising you that items in panel are still being filtered. Check that your tags and search fields are clear, and when applicable, the file type selector is set to All.

Creating a Playlist and Adding Media Files to It

  1. From the top left corner of the Playlists panel, click on the New () button.
  2. With the playlist selected, drag your media files from the Active tab of the Media Library and drop them into the playlist’s editing panel at the bottom of the screen.
  3. While still selected you may also add a different playlist into it:
    1. Drag a different playlist from the Playlists panel into the playlist’s editing panel.
    2. Reposition contents in the playlist’s editing panel as desired.

Repositioning a Media File within a Channel’s/Playlist’s Editing Panel

  1. Select a channel or playlist from their respective panels to display its editing panel with its contents at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Within the editing panel, click to hold and drag an item from its initial position, to its new position.
  3. While dragging the item, a green rectangle frames the editable zone while a yellow insertion bar indicates where the item can potentially be placed if released.
  4. Release the item when its insertion bar appears in the desired position.
  5. The dragged item’s position number is instantly updated.

Adding a Tag to a Media file, a Channel or a Playlist

  1. Select the item to which you'd like to attach one or more tags.
  2. From the selected item's Properties panel, under the Details section, click on the Tags () field.
  3. Using your keyboard, start typing to see existing tag matches listed just below the Tags field.
  4. Click on a tag among the matches or continue typing your desired tag for the item, then hit Enter.
  5. Repeat steps 1 to 4 as necessary to attach more tags to the selected item.

Updating an Existing Media File

  1. Select the media file you'd like to update from the Media Library panel.
  2. Only updating the instance cannot be done:
    1. If viewing the contextual menu for an instance, choose the option Select Original Media/Playlist.
    2. From there, you can update the original item.
  3. When an original media file is updated, all of its instances are automatically updated as well.
  4. From step 1, click on the Update () icon from the top left corner of the Media Library panel's Active tab.
  5. In the File Upload dialog box that opens, select the new file that will replace your selected item.
  6. This is especially helpful when you need to put in placeholders while awaiting the actual assets, so that you may work on the editing sequence of a channel or playlist beforehand.
  7. Other times this is useful is if corrections are to be made on an asset prior to a publish. If later corrections need to be made on an already-published item, another publish must be made. See the following use case.

Tip: If you'd really like to just modify the instance, there is a workaround

  1. Re-upload the image so that you have two separate copies of the same item in the Active tab of the Media Library.
  2. Give the copy another name in the Details section of the Media Properties panel.
  3. Update the copy to your liking.

Using Publish Now after corrections

Adding a Media File to a Channel

  1. Select your channel from the Channels panel to display its content in the Edit Channel panel.
  2. Drag your media file from Active tab of the Media Library panel and drop it into the Edit Channel panel.
  3. The media file can be placed between two existing items, or repositioned once it's been added.

Adding a Playlist to a Channel

  1. Select your channel from the Channels panel to display its content in the Edit Channel panel.
  2. Drag your playlist from the Playlists panel and drop it into the Edit Channel panel.
  3. The playlist can be added between two existing items, or repositioned once it's been placed.

Creating an override to an instance's properties without affecting the original item

  1. Select an item from a channel's or playlist's editing panel; the Instance Properties panel of the item comes into view.
  2. Instance: Schedule and Instance: Stores sections each have an Original/Override () toggle switch; toggle these switches to Override.
  3. You can then give the schedule new values under the Override column and assign instances to your stores differently (than the original).
  4. Alternatively, the scheduling values from the Original column can be copied over to the Override column, by clicking on the chevron arrows () that point to each of the corresponding override values.
  5. To copy all original store assignments over to the override store assignments in one go, click on the chevron arrow () that is to the right of the Instance: Stores toggle switch ().
  6. The appropriate switch () must be toggled to the Override position in order to activate these alternate values set in Instance: Schedule and Instance: Stores.

Excluding an instance from being published for a determinate period of time

  1. Select an instance from within the editing panel of a channel or playlist.
  2. Within the Instance Properties panel, under the Override column of the Instance: Schedule section, select and customize your scheduling criteria:
  3. With the override criteria established, the scheduling switch () will automatically toggle to the Override position, ready to be published under this new schedule.
  4. This schedule only applies to this instance; the original media file and its other instance versions will not be affected by this.
  5. The schedule from the original media file can be reassigned to this instance by toggling its switch () back to the Original position.

Blocking a media file's assignment to a store

  1. Select a media file from the Media Library panel.
  2. From the Media Properties panel, under the Stores section, deselect the store(s) where the media is to be excluded (a red x replaces the green check mark).
  3. All instance versions of this media file will be affected by this store exception if their Instance: Stores switch () is toggled to the Original position.
  4. Any instance version of an original media file may still be assigned to a store previously excluded by the original.
  5. To validate a store’s channel content prior to a publish, use the Preview Constraints from the channel’s editing panel (a.k.a. Edit Channel). See “Previewing Channel/Playlist Behavior Under Specific Conditions

Preventing a playlist from being displayed on the weekends

  1. Select your playlist in order to see its properties in the Playlist Properties panel
  2. Under the Schedule section, in the Days field, click on S and S to deselect Saturdays and Sundays (red x's replace green check marks).
  3. All instance versions of this playlist will be excluded from being displayed on the weekends, if their "Instance: schedule" switch () is put to Original.
  4. Any instance version of this playlist may be displayed on any day previously excluded by the original, by making necessary changes under the Override column of their Instance: Schedule section (making changes in the override column automatically toggles the Original/Override switch to Override).
  5. To validate a playlist’s content, use the Preview Constraints from its editing panel (Edit Playlist). See “Previewing Channel/Playlist Behavior Under Specific Conditions”.

The Days icon ( ) in the Schedule section can be clicked on to quickly cycle through popular choices:

Setting a Playlist for a Later Date

  1. Select or create a playlist to display its properties in the Playlist Properties panel.
  2. Under the Schedule section, click on the Start Date field to display the calendar.
  3. Choose the Start Date and End Date.
  4. Add items to the playlist, ensuring the schedules of the instances within do not conflict with the playlist’s schedule.
  5. The playlist can then be inserted into a channel that's ready to be published.
  6. To validate the schedules of items within a channel or playlist, use the Preview Constraints from a channel’s or playlist’s editing panel. See “Previewing Channel/Playlist Behavior Under Specific Conditions”.

Previewing a Channel to Validate Its Scheduled Content

  1. Select a channel from the Channels panel; its contents appear in the Edit Channel panel below.
  2. To view how your channel contents will behave at a specific Store, Date and/or Time, specify the values under Preview Constraints in the Edit Channel panel.
  3. If any instances within have any override values, these will be indicated by corresponding white icons on their status bar, just below their position number:
    1. Schedule (date, time and days)
    2. Stores
  4. When an instance is excluded from being displayed because of test values set in Preview Constraints, its thumbnail is marked by red hatches and red warning icons indicating which of the values in their properties is causing the conflict.
  5. For a visual check into how the channel actually displays its contents under the specified preview constraint(s), click on the play () button seen in the Editing panel.
  6. The preview player window will appear on top of the application.
  7. Edited Items with relevant overrides are ignored and will not be displayed.

Using Force Delete / Delete Manager Functions

Method 1 - Force Delete

  1. In the Active tab of the Media Library, locate an asset that also has instances in various channels and/or playlists.
  2. Delete the asset.
  3. Force Delete Items box appears:
    1. To the left is the asset to be erased.
    2. To the right are listed all playlists and channels that are using this item.
  4. Once Delete is selected, the original media and all of its instances found in channels and playlists are gone.

Method 2 - Delete Manager

  1. From the Actions toolbar, click on the to call the Delete Manager box.
  2. Click to select any item on the left;
  3. If the list of items is too long to scroll through, use the search by tags/filename and sorting dropdown filters to quickly find your item.
  4. Once Delete is selected, the original item and all of its instances found in channels and playlists are gone. Additional info found in "Actions: Delete Manager", under Actions Toolbar.

Bringing back a previously removed asset

Prior to the next publish, any asset that was removed via the trash (), the Delete Manager, or Force Delete can still be brought back to the Media Library:

  1. Go to the Removed tab of the Media Library.
  2. Locate and select your media in this window.
  3. Click on the return icon (), from the top left corner of the window; an identical icon also appears just beneath the thumbnail when mousing over a removed asset.
  4. Your media is now returned to the Media Library.