FLOSS Weekly 147: BigBlueButton

hi i’m dan lynch for floss weekly and today we’re going to be talking to Fred Dixon of big blue button which is an online video conferencing tool that case you love from people you trust this is tweet bandwidth for floss weekly is provided by cash fly at CAC ag/f ly calm this is floss weekly episode 147 recorded Wednesday January fifth 2011 big blue button welcome to floss weekly the show about free libre open source software you may have noticed the observant amongst you will have noticed that I’m not Randall Schwartz unfortunately Randall’s away this week on a cruise but i’ll be your host for this week my name is dan lynch you may have heard me on linux outlaws and you will also have heard me I’m floss weekly before so it’s it’s good to be here and steering the ship and all that kind of stuff and to work in a cruise reference they would steer in the ship anyway so I’m joined today by Aaron Newcomb Aaron how you doing hey good I don’t think we’ve actually talked before so this is a real treat no exactly yeah the first time so it’s good good good to meet you yeah absolutely i’m just gonna wait in there and what yeah i’m just gonna have a big fan of linux outlaws i always one of the podcasts i recommend to people that are you know looking to to learn more so i think it’s a real treat to be here with you and co-hosting this episode excellent thank you and so today’s guest is fred dixon from big blue button and big blue button is an online conferencing tool i suppose you’d call it and it’s used primarily in education and it enables you to do teleconferencing to share your desktop and do all kinds of cool collaborative things for distance learning and other such things and it’s all built on open source tools which is very cool so when ya any thoughts on that I’m really excited to talk to talk about big blue button because I’ve obviously I used to other other tools like dim dim and webex and similar tools to do things and and also obviously I use a lot of video from a video podcast so I’m kind of curious to see what how different big blue button is and how they’re using open source to to do distance learning I think it’s really exciting ok so let’s go ahead and bring on our guest for today Dixon from the big blue button project can you hear us Fred you’re sounding great that’s great so where are we speaking to you from today so I’m currently in Ottawa Ontario in Canada so if I end my sentence with an A every now and then I’ll I’ll give myself away excellent and so I gave it a little introduction to a big blue button at the top of the show but just for the benefit of the the listeners and the viewers can you give us an overview of what big blue button is and what it does absolutely so big blue button is an open source project that’s directed towards billing real-time web conferencing system for distance education so the goal the project is to enable universities to offer remote students a high-quality learning experience so it’s the voice the video to Chad the slides the desktop sharing and then you might think of it all that sounds like generic web conferencing and there are about 150 commercial web conferencing systems out there there are very few open source ones and big blue button is trying to be a very good viable alternative for commercial web conferencing systems for universities and colleges Oh excellent so how long is the project then go for them so it started about three and a half years ago Ashley here at Carleton University there was a master’s program that’s being taught and still taught called the technology innovation management program was teaching engineers how to be entrepreneurs and they were wanting to open the course up to students abroad in Europe and South America all over the world of course to do that you need to have some way for students to join a course remotely so they were using a commercial system and it was not cheap and then the the head of the program Tony valetti said this is silly we’re teaching engineers to be entrepreneurs why don’t we try building the system and they worked out it for about a year and got it going I joined the project shortly afterwards and it’s been about two and a half years now of really intense open-source development to try to build a system that is would enable a university or college to teach your students remotely and it’s been in use of car University for over two years now and lots of works gone on in it mmm sounds excellent so just as a kind of an overview what what kind of things does bigbluebutton allow you to do obviously

teleconference in sharing your desktop perhaps what kind of features does it have right so maybe the best way to give an example is by contrasting it so we’re using skype right now so you can see me I can see you which is great I mean if you want to do one-on-one nan skype is the way to go however if you wanted to enable 20 students remotely to attend this lecture and to be able to collaborate with them in real time you’re tipping into something that requires a server a conferencing server a voice conferencing server a video conferencing server slide sharing and a chat all those things wrapped up together and that’s what big blue button does it we build on about 15 open source projects to enable the student who only needs a computer that can run flash so we use flash as the client and we have a back-end server that accepts connections from the flash clients the teacher can go in he or she has permissions to upload slides the students would see those slides and they can sit back and watch the teacher interact with the slides move the mouse around and chat and there it is yes the video of it or a screenshot of it so you can have multiple webcams so unlike skype which you know at some point whether it’s two three or four users the video will drop you know we’ve had it up to twenty simultaneous webcams on big blue button you can have like 25 people in the voice conference system and there’s controls to mute and unmute people and then there’s the slides which we can upload a PDF or using openoffice we can convert any document open office can recognize into a PDF and then that can be synchronized through all the viewers that’s what it that’s what we basically been working on and then it’s sort of like there are a lot of systems out there there are a lot of commercial web conferencing systems they’re very sophisticated they’re very powerful the metaphor for big blue button we came up with a name was we wanted to make setting up a virtual classroom as simple as pressing a metaphorical big blue button so we’ve just been trying to just keep it as simple as possible not try to do every feature recognizing that most universities and colleges the teachers walking into a class they they just want upload their slides and talk to the remote students maybe see them have the students see them have a good quality audio and have a good session and have it recorded at the end so that students who couldn’t make the class could watch it and the only thing the student needs on their computer to access this is is the Flash plugin is the Adobe Flash plugin is all right yeah and I’ll give a big shout out to Adobe they do a great job on the flash plugin I mean you can see you know there’s always vulnerable ities than they’re upgrading it and so on it’s no different than any other software but they they ship flash on Mac unix in pc and i can tell you in an earlier company i was involved with we did a java-based applet this is back in 97 to 2004 and there were not it was not write once run everywhere it’s probably now right but not back then and i can tell you that on the flash side it’s been really good for us we haven’t had to try to figure out why flash works on one system and not the other so yes students only need to have flash if you want to share your desktop you need to have java installed and that’s because flash can’t access the browser it can’t can’t look outside the browser and look at your desktop so we just start up an applet that will capture frames of your desktop and set it up the server you need that if you were going to be the presenter but if you’re just a student flash is all you need I know that I know this is built primarily for end users who may or may not be open source enthusiasts right but I’m just kind of curious have you gotten a lot of flak back about using flash I know that a lot of times in my conversations with with open source guys they’re like ah flash I hate flashes closed source blah blah blah have you gotten any any negative feedback about that we do get occasionally right and I’ll share with you to a funny example so I was talking with one of the people who were involved with like html5 and I was showing them big blue button and they were at a unit of college and after you know after we were using it he said well why don’t you guys using html5 and there’s some technical challenges right now with html5 that prevent is doing what we do with flash them primarily it’s accessing the users web can em and the audio stream so you know you take it for granted that if you open up flash you can capture audio and video but that’s not easy to do in html5 it’s good for streaming stuff that comes from the server but it’s the capture of it so and it’s not there yet and when it is there you know we’ll use it we’ve done some prototypes where we’ve connected oh I apologize so that’s someone angry about the flash ringing it now yeah that’s a good idea it actually

is worth pointing out I am so I am with I’m one of the developers of big blue button so there’s a core group of people that we’re working on this for 29 years i’m also the CEO of a company called blindside networks and we provide commercial support for big blue button hopefully i didn’t hang up on a customer there but but that’s how this how the project funds itself is we we help universities and colleges with deploying brandine scaling and integrating bigbluebutton hanging always it’s funny somebody’s very good assistant yes I must let that go to I must let that go to to its gonna ring through with two more times this just proves that this is live so this is this oh don’t worry about it but but I’ll finish up the earlier point with regards to the html5 and that’s just html5 isn’t there yet to capture the audio and video it could be a client so it could participate by viewing and we’ve been exploring that but yes we have gotten some pushback and to finish the story this gentleman i was talking to said yeah you should be using html5 and then you sort of me to comment and well is this the stuff actually worked they don’t have to install anything on my computer to get big blue button running well that’s the goal right so what html5 is there will move to it and until then again kudos to Adobe they do a great job flash right right what about open so alternatives to flash do they do they work well with the system so that there’s sort of two parts with that there’s the there’s the open-source alternative on the client which there really isn’t any right you’re using the flash plugin on the server you could use the adobe’s flash media server but we’re using the red 5 server which is an open-source implementation of the flash media server and the red 5 project turned out the timing was perfect had we started to do big blue button five years ago we would have had to write a lot of the server components it turned out at the time that they were we did the first version big blue button like way back three years ago the red fly project just got started so when we when we revved the architecture we looked at red 5 and said wow okay these guys can pull it off that will simplify what we need to do on the back end and the Red five projects done really well and we’ve been building on it since the beginning thanks since version point four and up two point nine one right now so we really do stand on the shoulders of others so on the server side yes there’s an open source option red five on the client side you do need the flash plugin but the the interface or big blue button is all open source our code is hosted at github the project itself is at Google code and we were actually accepted into the google Summer of Code last year and we had two students work on big blue button we had two students lots we had I think it was 79 students apply and we had two students and I can I can share with you more about it but one of them has been working on record and playback and that’s the that’s the last big feature that we’re pushing hard to get into big blue button because the day that a university or college can do a real-time classroom the voice quality is good the audio qualities the voice and video quality is good the slides are good and then they can record that and it’s integrated with say Moodle or Sakai then you really do have a viable option for an open source system right right i mean it’s got to be huge right i mean if you if you ever watch any of the the online lectures from some of the big universities out there they have to have a camera crew basically involved in recording those lectures and and then editors have to go and edit the you know add the slide sometimes and things like that so you could do that automatically it really enables true distance learning where you may not even have to have a classroom so that’s the key right and I can share with you there’s a bunch of submarkets that are really interested in open source web conferencing I mean one of them is online tutoring as the inner it becomes more pervasive you could get teachers anywhere in the world who could match up with students so we see a lot of interest in big blue button in the online tutoring and we said a lot of interest in it with gained universities and colleges who tend to put their classes online and broadcast them or are using it for ancillary capabilities such as a virtual office hours for the teacher or giving students ability to collaborate which is not too easy to do if you’re paying for commercial web conferencing system so there’s there’s there’s there’s areas that were being used in that you know are around the educational space what about how does this compare to other other video conferencing projects and I’m familiar with dim dim horse i’ve used services like WebEx and those kinds of things but dimdim is the one that i think is is also based on open source at least they claim to be based on open source software so how does this compare I know

that one is one is more of a they’re doing the hosting for you dimdi does the hosting obviously and you guys I think are rolling this out so universities can do that can host this but how in terms of features and the software that you’re using I mean how does it compare to something like dim dim so it turns out we’re using a lot of the same components like we use a red five server they use it the OpenOffice PDF just W F to convert power power EF files to swf files shock wave format we we’re not trying to set up blind side networks as being a hosting company we are enabling others to host big blue button and our model is to support them so dim dim does provide an open source version of its software but it’s a bit old it’s not up to date with their latest release and if you wanted to host your own dim dim server you can’t you can use their open source release again but it’s a bit as a bit out of date we thought at the beginning if we’re going to do this as an open source project we wanted to do it as a true open source project so the code is out there we have very active mailing lists we like to think we have a strong community around the glue button and because of our openness and our willingness to take feedback and the idea the secret we found is to actually release bigbluebutton as a formal product so we’ve gone through nine iterative releases so far for big blue button and there is no pro version there’s no there’s nothing that you have to like pay for is all big blue button is in the github repository so in terms of other projects we think we’re probably a bit truer to the open source mantra and we think in the long run that’s probably going to help us grow faster mmm so you mentioned that the intention is to encourage universities to host their own servers running bigbluebutton so let’s say I wanted to do that what kind of thing do I need to run it on same hardware kind of specs and so on yep so it’s a good it’s a good question we recommend any any computer you buy today for a thousand dollars is going to be a quad core with a gig of memory and you know if I’m to get hard disk if you can put a decent computer like that are you have it on your network most universities have a high bandwidth networks you have a system capable of hosting big blue button so you you can hook it up to your your network you install Ubuntu 1004 32-bit or 64-bit on it and then at that point you’d install the glue button and we we basically created the installation through packages so we bundle it as you bunch of packages and with a couple commands the last one ending in sudo apt-get install bigbluebutton you contain you can take that server and turn it into a big blue button server in about 15 minutes and then as we release new versions of big blue button we update the packaging so you just go to the server you do sudo apt-get update and sudo apt-get upgrade and you are now current with the latest release a big blue button cool so do i need to add a repository for that kind of thing to my ubuntu system or you do you have packages in the main universe as they call it in a bunch of no no we we have our own package we have our own repository so you would add the big blue button repository to it you would add the public key you do an advocate up aid you would install either free switch or asterisks and then you install big blue button you know it would be great if we got big blue button into the universe I gotta tell you writing you know doing packaging is a black art like it we’ve been working on it we’ve been doing the packaging for about a year and a half it’s gone through a number of iterations and it’s at the point now where you know we recognize that if there was eight pages of install instructions to install bigbluebutton because they’re a lot of components you need I mean we would be spending all of our time in the forums just debugging installation but we put the effort into doing the packaging it’s pretty solid if you do it on you bunt to 1004 32-bit or 64-bit you are going to have a server running and if you have any problems you post to our mailing list there’s a number of them but one is the glue button dash set up and we will help you out we will make sure that you get your server up and running okay so a bunch of is the kind of recommended platform for this is it and for installing its own yes so and therein lies a choice right there’s two major packaging systems out there there’s the RPM packaging and then there’s the the Debian are you bunt too there’s a couple others like us gentoo and others but the RPM and sent and Debbie on the main ones we actually had support for both in a version about two iterations ago but the effort to support and test both packaging systems was just was just taking a ginormous amount of time and we rather be spending the time developing bigbluebutton so we had to make a call and we said okay we can’t do both really well we’re going to do one and we’re going to do one really really well so that if someone uses it it’s going to be solid so we picked you bun too and we have the packaging for you bunt to for

the latest release of big blue button and then interesting enough so the packaging for centos now is well out of date and it’s not supported we don’t we haven’t updated it and the question was you know would anybody care like if we stop support for centos would would our doors be beaten down and I can share with you that we do they get the occasional call of people really want to run it on centos for very valid reasons and our response has been well okay this is probably going to take us about 20 days that development to update this vert version you know this is open source so you know how this works if you want it you can wait for it or you can help accelerate it and I would say to people you know you can help accelerate this if it’s important to your company and the conversations always lead back to the ends like okay well I guess we’ll just use the Debian version for now you bun to version because it’s a black box we’re going to set up a server it’s going to run the glue button it has an API and at that point the third party applications don’t really care what’s on the server so I suspect that someday a company is going to say to us yes we really want sent OS and then we will pick up where we were we’ll update it and then you will be a commercially supported sent OS version but until then we just it was a quantity versus quality and we chose quality it’s a real there’s a really good packaging right now for you bun two and you’ll get it running in 15 minutes oh so you mentioned that you install Ubuntu and then you add the repository and install bigbluebutton do you have a you know a kind of a live CD or could you make a Reese pan of say abante that I could just install everything in one go so reset up is that is that something you would think about so we’ve essentially done that because we per week we provide you a virtual machine as well so the two main ways people try a big blue button is they download it install it on you bun to or we provide ready to go VMware virtual machine so you can download it you can run it under vmware fusion on mac you can run under vmware player on windows and unix and it will it will power itself up and it will essentially complete Anna bunty based installation the vm is based on you bun to 1004 32-bit and at the end of that you know on your vmware player on your pc you will have the blue button running you’ll have desktop sharing voice over IP all of it it’s all there now you wouldn’t run that as a production server but for purposes of trying it out it’s the it’s the least barrier and I can share with you we actually figured out a while back the vm was actually a pretty good way to do development so so here’s that here’s the problem we had and this may be shared by the open source projects you’ve got a fairly complex system lots of components it takes a number of steps to set up the development environment and our goal is to make it easier for users to for developers to participate in the project what we ended up doing was pre-packaging all the development tools inside the vm so this is how we develop a big blue button right now we have vmware workstation running on our unix windows machines we use flex builder we compile inside the vm so it’s not like you’re compiling on windows and then let’s see how it works under unix we compile from source inside the vm running in vmware workstation we check in through get on the vm and that that reduces the differences between a development environment and production environment we basically use the vm as our development environment so that when it turns around and we run it on a production environment it’s still it’s been built on you bun to 1004 it’s been tested on you bunch of 1004 and some package on you bun to 1004 and it installs on you but to 1004 and do you offer I know you mentioned VMware but what about VirtualBox to you is it a VD MK file that I could import into VirtualBox have you tried that yeah and we’ve got instructions on our Google Code site on how to do it we probably we some point may go to the open virtualization format but most people run vmware and honestly if the our community said hey we want a real one OV m or ovf format we could probably do it but yeah right now it does run in VirtualBox and you know we’ve been at trade shows demonstrating bigbluebutton and we’ve been using under virtual box under those circumstances great awesome another question is you know you mentioned that you’re using open source and you started mentioning some of the open source programs but maybe you can kind of give us a rundown of what other open-source software you use to make this work sure we have our little tagline that we’re based on 15 open source projects so if you count them let’s see if I get to all of them there’s activemq there’s asterisk asterisk java the flex sdk ghostscript grails imagemagick my SQL engine X read five swf tools Tomcat you

bunt to Ziegler open office and free switch Wow awesome I’ve used a lot of I used some of those obviously like imagemagick and some of those programs so I’m familiar with some of them it’s great that you can use them to you know kind of Kabul them together to make your own system and it’s the same with I find what I’m doing you know trying to use open source tools to make my video podcast it’s the same thing you can find tools out there to to get this done I’m kind of curious to who is using this I mean I don’t know you know I’m assuming they’re mostly universities can you name some names here I mean who’s using this and how big of a classroom or how big of a community are they using it for so I can’t give you specific names I mean I can certainly share with you like Carleton University which is the birthplace of big blue button they use it quite a bit they have classes up to 25 people which is about how we which is about how large we recommend it University of Lancaster is a user they are actually contributed to the Sakai integration of big blue button looking at our packages downloads so there’s nothing in big blue buttons going to track the usage but we can tell certainly from servers hitting their package archives there are hundreds of servers out there running big blue button right now there was a question posted or forum and it was a new University of Vermont basically created their own server and posted up online and had a question about it we think that there’s probably upwards between 500 bigbluebutton servers out there right now running and we know what the market wants and we know once we get record and play back in place if we do a good job of it and then there will be a lot more servers running so yeah it’s it’s been a it’s been an overnight success that’s taking at least three years and will probably take another year or two but let’s just say we’re really determined to make this project successful well it sounds like it sounds like you’ve got a good plan before the show started you know you were pointing out all of your uh post-it notes there in the background all the features that you know you want to you want to develop I think that’s great and it sounds like you know being at a university you are keyed into what universities are looking for so you’ve got your market you know fairly narrowly focused on on the market excuse me that you want to focus on I wasn’t redundant was it like so so that kind of leads me to the next question which is how does this you mentioned Moodle and some of them and I don’t know if you integrate with blackboard or some of the other services that universities use for their classroom collaboration so I’m just kind of curious how does this integrate today and what are your plans for integration in the future so we put a lot of effort into crazy creating an API for big blue button so if you think of what goes on in a virtual classroom there’s the before part during in the after where the during is the real time collaboration and the before FAR’s the poor part is all like the setup and scheduling and so on we don’t do any of the before after part now we do basically the real-time collaboration and we have an API so there is integrations with Moodle and sakai the two open source major open source systems we also have integrations with joomla wordpress tikki redmine affront how is Miss one there’s there’s they’re all listed on at the big blue button website but if you have let’s say a moodle integration you can create a you can download a moodle Activity module I give us a chi integration you can download the Sakai plugin I point it to a big button server so you’d set up a server at university or college and then from with inside of the learning content management system you can schedule classes and students can join from within you mentioned blackboard so we actually have the ability to create a blackboard building block for big blue button it was one of the things that we were going to do when someone came to us and said yes we really want to do this and again it’s sort of like the sent to s no one’s come to us yet instead okay we’ll pay you to do this and honestly we’re really focused on the open source side of it if you look at what’s going on in learning content management space the growth of Moodle in Sakai is phenomenal and that’s the area that we we want to play with and it agree with mmm we we touch by earlier about the the fact that you build on a lot of different open source projects does that affect your your release schedule or anything do you find that pulling together so many different disparate strands if you like does that affect your ability to release regularly on time is there anything any impact there so it’s another good question most of the systems that we build on are actually fairly stable right now like you look at free switch and it’s it’s that version like one point 06 it’s been out for a while it’s really battle-tested it doesn’t change a lot things like tom cat and engine X these are fairly stable systems now red5 has been interactive development so we look at the new version of that and we test

it before we integrate it but no most of the things we build on right now are actually pretty stable so a lot of the work that we’re doing is on the front end interface so we had to write the whole big blue button client and in the back end modules some of the modules to do desktop sharing some of them to do like the sip client we took the red 5 phone and we modified it so that we can bridge the audio from the user through red 5 into a back-end voice conference system such as asterisks or free switch the biggest challenge for us which is probably no different in other open source projects is just testing coordination and testing so we do we try to treat again as I mentioned we found a secret is if you want to build a good quality open source project as you treat it like a product so you do formal planning design development testing packaging release and support and so each of our iterations we try to do that and the testing part is the challenging but it actually gets easier over time when you get more users using your products so right now in our developer mailing list we have we just passed 700 members a few weeks ago so when we do go into our testing phase we have a community out there that we create packages for the next release so there’s kind of like the standard core release that is one package archive and then there’s like a dev archive which is being built up to date through Hudson so we run a continuous integration server that when code is checked in to github it pulls it out compiles it builds a packaging stalls it on the repository and remotely updates a dev build server so at dev build big blue button org it’s always running the latest master we use that to test we test with our community and then at some point we call it we we do the release we take a break for a few minutes and then we look at we look at what we want to do for the next iteration and what we’re working on right now is the record and playback and we’re pretty excited about it how difficult is that to coordinate between all the different packages I mean you listed 15 I think open source packages and there and then you’ve got flash and other things going on right so I mean how do you talk about that i mean how difficult is it when you’ve got a problem how difficult is that’s a pinpoint and then how do you ever have to go back to those developers of those individual open source projects and say hey you know we found this bug you know can you do you contribute back to those projects can you talk about that a little bit so we’ve been active in the Red five community we’ve been talking to some of the members I mean kudos to them they’re the reason why we’re here that the red 5 project and we’ve got one of the members of the Red five team on our team as well so we’re pretty close to them they’ve done a good job it’s sort of like it’s kind of like as we as we get the part where we may hit the bugs that are in their system their kind of fixing them at the same time so even though we started off the same red fibers I think a little bit ahead of us and then we kind of are just a little bit behind in terms of okay let’s use this new feature and it’s been in red by for a while and it’s kind of settled down that I’ll tell you the thing which saves us is the two things as packaging one is we can we can do a clean install a big blue button under 15 minutes right from scratch so right away it flushes out any problems in the in the end the in anything new features we add or if we have to add a new component that’s not packaged already so for example like tom cat and engine X we don’t write the packaging for it the bunch of community already has it free switches and as well so by translating our development work into a package it immediately shakes down all the you know any installation issues that otherwise would would you hit if you just added a couple lines to install instructions to say please install this the other thing that helps us as we provide a utility a shell script with big blue button called BBB cough it’s just a shell script that lets you start and stop the glue button but it has kind of like a bunch of tests in it so if you run BBB comp dash dash check it’ll run about 25 test to test the configuration of big blue button to see whether it can talk to itself did all the processes run or the directories of the write permission is there any problems connecting two asterisks or free switch and we built this up over time to the point where you know it would be hard to to go into someone’s system and figure out what’s wrong but we built all these checks that we’re pretty comfortable now that if if you install big blue button from packages and BBB conf runs through the checks and everything looks good you’ve got a working big blue button system so we done those things to help reduce the effort it takes to kind of build a complete system out of all these to spare it open source packages and that’s got to help to like you said with as you’re doing support for these systems I mean all those things that you develop to to to to do bug fixing and things like that and and debugging yourself in the code must help when you have to go

then support an end user yeah absolutely and so we I mean we take the glue button we run it through profiling tools we’ve been looking at you know the memory usage the object allocation the threading and so on what what we also benefited from is a lot of times you know someone will post to our mailing list there’s they’ve had a problem with installation or the server is not running so what we’ll do is we’ll we’ll say I’m a direct email hey are you comfortable giving us temporary root access to your server it’s usually a new server they set up and more often not to say yeah here’s the username password and login will login will learn about how big blue button is running inside of their environment and we’ll incorporate that learning into the packaging or the software so that again every time we solve a problem we try to make the packaging more intelligent or the check more intelligent a software more intelligent so it actually doesn’t get hit again and now having done that for over a year year and a half since the packaging kicked in again if you want to install a big blue button go to google code fire up at no.4 machine run through the packaging and if you can’t get it installed you post the mailing list and you say Fred I can’t get this installed and we’ll help you out that’s very cool and I was curious how many people work on big blue button obviously you’ve got a call team there so who’s involved right so the core team is actually primarily composed of folks at blindside networks so blind side networks is that the students and myself who spun out of carleton university actually students their master students you know they’ve homes families wives kids right we still think of them students so that we’re the ones who take on the responsibility of coordinating their release testing it packaging its supporting it there’s Jeremy tomerson a generic conferencing so Jared conferencing is a company that you that does asterisks voice conferencing and they added big blue button web conferencing and Jeremy provided our API he integrated the API he wrote it he designed it and integrated it there’s chego Jacobs who is one of the Duca meters to the red 5 mailing list and then there’s a number of other open source developers who have become involved with the projects are our translation our localization translation was done by two guys in China Zion Chen and a lot of the translation was done by DJ p one of the members of our mailing list so we have legal been localized in 15 languages and we didn’t have to do any of it it was the community you knew that part excellent so is easy people to get involved you encourage people to you know join your github site and commit stuff as well maybe yeah and that that’s the chance the challenging part dan because as we as we go deeper and deeper into you know real-time voice over IP and all the complexity system there’s a lot of moving pieces here so we put a lot of effort into documentation on setting up the development environment the architecture diagrams I mean supporting developers in the mailing list but we recognize that there’s there’s a lot to learn to contribute the big blue button so we if we see someone on our mailing list trying to do something with big blue button you know we will help them out because we recognize it’s those people who eventually we’ll get to the point where you know you look at them and say oh wow you’re really starting to contribute we’d like to invite you to be able to commit code and and so the way we’ve done there’s various ways to handle how people commit to an open source project the way we decided to do it at the beginning that big blue button was we use the joint contributor agreement from Sun we modified it slightly so it says big blue button instead of Java but we ask everybody who wants to commit code to sign that so there’s never any question that this project can be the code that’s involved in it can be released under an open source license and I can share with you as well we have been moving to setting up an independent not-for-profit organization so called the big blue button ink or or we sometimes call the big blue button foundation but the real the legal name is big blue button ink we’re blind side networks is going is going to shift over the copyright to this not-for-profit because we recognize that most successful software projects do have an independent not-for-profit organization that oversees the development and growth of it and we want we want big blue button to be running out on 100 machines or 500 we wanted running on thousands of machines and where that even though we’re the folks who started we are very interested in working with other companies the free switch integration for example was contributed by an external company so if if someone out there looks at the glue button and says this is great but it doesn’t do a B and C and they have the desire to do a B and C we would like to work with them and then all users akka puku button will benefit from it mmm while I was reading up on the big blue button on Wikipedia I

I noticed a little bit where they said that you moved from google code to get hub in an effort to encourage developers so I was curious was there something about google code that put people off or is there something about github that attracts people or how did that work it was the difference between centralized it’s called management and distributed source cord management in get in google code you know for youtube to build something that had to be checked in and you couldn’t easily pull in other people’s changes i mean this is what i get is doing very well is is you can actually have your own repository and you can pull in updates from the core bigbluebutton repository into your fork or branch so you can maintain current but you can also have your own changes so we we recognize that if we wanted to get developers involved in big blue button anything we could do to make it easier for them to participate is going to benefit us in the long run so it took a bit of effort on our part to move our continuous integration system over to pull from github to understand how get works we made the transition two iterations ago and it’s worked out really well and you’ll notice if you go to github there’s a number of forks a big blue button and we welcome people to fork the code and and and and improve it and then of course we really welcome you to give the changes back so that we can incorporate it in and then it becomes part of the release mmm excellent so I am I was just curious i mean we at the start we talked about your lovely for the benefit of listeners at the lovely wall behind you with lots of lots of post-it notes on it about the future of big blue button and you’ve mentioned recording and playback is a big thing is there anything else that you could tell us about maybe where you’re planning to take a big blue button in future yes so we want to have a really solid core we want to have a really solid core for the voice the web the video the desktop sharing the record and playback and if you think a look if you think of some other very successful open source projects and eclipse comes to mind eclipse basically has this really core platform which other people can build on it so if you had an idea to do some type of collaboration and you wanted the video and audio as well our vision is that big blue button could be a platform on which you can build your collaboration component add it to big blue button but then all the record and playback all the other modules are all there for you so just as we have an API today to connect external applications to be glued we want to have sort of a component API so that you can have these building blocks and if you want to add a new module say a survey module or something you would have the means to add it and build on it so that modularity is one area that we’re looking to go to the second is of course access to multiple endpoints so at some point you’re going to see a flat like an Android or an iPhone or an iPad whether we do it or someone else is going to do it it’s inevitable where students are users on that will be able to participate in it and they’ll be able to depending on how much support html5 maybe they can be view only so they’re getting the stream of audio and video or maybe they can do to way but you’re going to be able to basically have a component architecture you’re going to be able to have multiple endpoints and then what you’re going to the final part is is basically modularity a big blue button itself so today if you look at big blue button you fire up a big cool button client you have your voice your web your video your Chad your desktop share so all those components are useful wouldn’t it be great to just take the voice component out in a bed in your website or the video component embedded your website we think of it as the big blue button toolbox so we would like to get to is where the components are actually stand alone which requires of course a big blue button server but if you only needed chat could you just use chat from big blue button of course you have this big blue button server running which means next when you want to go to voice or the video or two slides it’s going to be very easy for you because the server is already there and then and so those those are the three areas you know we take scalability and solid and core and well documentation for granted that’s what we’re building in the project that’s our goal the high quality remote learning experience the modularity the multiple endpoints and then actually having the big button component stand alone we think as we as we as we fill in though that that roadmap big loop lawton becomes a platform right now it’s cut as more of an application but if it can become a platform then we built something that a lot of other open source projects could build on just like we built on the project other projects themselves so yeah yeah of course I’ve got to ask just a quick question about that because you brought up something that kind of intrigues me a little bit obviously you’re not the only ones that are interested especially in the ipad right as a as a learning tool and as an interface i was talking to a company just last week who is also really really interested in this and they’re wishing

that html5 supported some of the functions that you talked about earlier because they want to get on the ipad so i’m curious if you’ve looked at FaceTime you know Apple calls their implementation open implementation so I’m curious because I can see potentially Apple moving that to the next version of the ipad have you looked at that as a possibly a way to to get these services on to an iphone or ipad device so it would be great but it’s there just different architectures I mean Apple uses the AAC encoding the h.264 codec it’s it’s a great system but of course it’s a complete system and under apple for us we use flash with red Phi which means we use the real-time message protocol the rtmp protocol so it’s a different protocol it’s a different video encoders the just too many pieces that are different I think what you’re going to see is Apple is going to come out with facetime on the ipad of course it’s going to be great for collaboration it’s going to the ipad is going to do very well in the educational market space there we would love to see big blue button do very well as well and that if you’re on an iPad you can participate in some in some manner and that you know the recorded sessions could be uploaded to iTunes U for example so maybe you didn’t maybe it wasn’t done in and FaceTime but the end result is the end result of 20 people getting together and on on classroom and the teacher talking in using the whiteboard and getting people feedback and so on all that was captured and then was played back inside a QuickTime file that was available through iTunes U right right okay thanks yep and that was something I meant to ask earlier on and completely forgot it probably should have asked it right to start but what what license is the big blue button code released under so it’s interesting give you quick back story there used to be a component of it it’s lgpl right now except for the voice over IP component the red 5 phone because that’s GPL but everything in big blue button we’ve done is lgpl it actually used to be the the desktop sharing component the client part the Java applet that runs in the server part that broadcasts out all the messages we wrote both the client the server we used to have that as a GPL it was because we built under jugs uglier early on for it and which struggler was a GPL at that time so it used to be this GPL component and we had to do a licensing and we generated some revenue from that where companies set up we like your desktop sharing component but we don’t like a GPL with like a commercial license and we did that for a while but you know again we we we looked at and said okay the a GPL is can generate some revenue but I think there’s more revenue to generate if we can get thousands of big blue button servers running out there so let’s just make it really easy for thousands of people button servers to run so now it’s primarily lgpl and the red 5 phone component is GPL excellent now I have to ask you Randall’s favorite question which is why or emacs you have a preference by I’ve been doing vice and beyond because maybe I I know a lot of people say VI I say bye but there we go I save eye to eye but I my fingers just they memorized by the assertion replace I could do that in my sleep you know absolute oh cool so anything else you want to you want to mention before we before we wrap it up so I will I like to say that we’ve looked at other open source projects we try to look at what made them successful and where they had struggled with certainly documentation certainly support making it an open real open source project we have built big blue buttons so that if a developer wants to get involved there’s a means to do it check out our FAQ if a commercial company wants to integrate the glue button others have done it the brook path is their blind side networks is one of the companies involved but we try very hard not to position ourselves as a company we recognize that if we can build viable ecosystem of users universities and colleges commercial companies and end users who are all benefiting from and contributing to big blue button then this will become a very successful project and and we are very determined to make this a successful project excellent so thank you very much for joining us today Fred and if people want to find out more about big blue button and they should go to big blue button dot org I’m assuming it’s best place anywhere else people should go to have a look that’s the best place from there the links to to google code you’ll see links to the companies providing support for big blue button you’ll see links to the integration modules and you can also follow the blog and we Twitter there’s a Twitter account as well which will post up as well and we’ll post it will tweet when this record obsession becomes

available excellent okay thanks very much for joining us take care with speech you soon bye-bye my pleasure guys