May 17, 2021

Secure your account in 3 easy steps

WMSPanel cloud control panel provides extended control over your Nimble Streamer server instances. Softvelum customers utilize Nimble extensively to build their media delivery networks and streaming infrastructure, and they use WMSPanel to perform the setup easily via both web UI and API.

Web services have a lot of upside like convenience of operations. However there is a downside to it as well: if you compromise your account credentials, an abuser may take control over your assets and do significant damage.

Besides evil intentions, people just make mistakes sometimes, so you need to improve your account security to avoid them.

Here are some general practices which we highly recommend for all of WMSPanel accounts and users to improve security and robustness of your account.


1. Users management: admins vs. non-admins


First, let's check what you can do on a company account and user level.

There are two types of users in WMSPanel: admins and non-admins.

Admins can do the following.

  • Install servers and register them in WMSPanel.
  • Add and change all Nimble Streamer settings on all servers.
  • View all stats for all servers.
  • Enable and disable statistical metrics.
  • Create and change subscriptions and view invoices.
  • Add, change and remove users.
  • Track users' activities log.
When you create an account in WMSPanel, your login becomes an admin user.

Non-admins cannot do much unless you allow them to:

  • They only view the stats in the data slices where they are assigned by admins.
  • Admins can grant non-admins specific permissions for specific servers, e.g. change live streaming settings only on a designated Nimble Streamer server instance. This article explains how it works.
  • Admins may also assign a group of non-admins to control a separate group of servers using data slices. This article describes the approach and its setup.

As you can see, there is no need to make some people the admin users while you can make them non-admins and grant only some limited permissions.

The rule of thumb is: don't grant too many permissions unless you really need to do that.


2. Two-factor authentication: a must-have


Being a user with WMSPanel login, you have to make sure your credentials are not exposed to anyone else. Doesn't matter if you are a full-scale admin or a non-admin who wants to view stats. However, if your credentials are obtained by malware or as a result of some sophisticated targeted attack, you need the second line of defense.

So you must enable two-factor authentication for your WMSPanel user. This is a modern de-facto standard for operations on the Internet so you must be familiar with it. So read this article to learn more about enabling 2FA.

Or just go to Settings menu, open Security tab and follow the instructions there.


3. Nimble config cloud backups: "undoing" mistakes


If you use a Nimble Streamer instance, one of your most valuable assets is its streaming settings. This is what you do as a streaming infrastructure architect and engineer: set up Nimble, test it with your source streams or files, launch it in products and make changes to those settings if necessary.

However, people make mistakes. Whatever you do to secure the users, those users can accidentally remove a server, erase some setting or make some experiment which would ruin the setup. You need to be able to overturn events like that.

We created Cloud backups of Nimble Streamer configuration to cover this use case. It allows making both manual and automated "snapshots" of server instance configuration which is then stored in WMSPanel cloud infrastructure. The key feature is that those backups cannot be erased or changed by any end user - admin or non-admin. When the backup is set and enabled for a specific server, those backups will allow restoring the state of settings of that server.

Cloud backups cost just 1 USD per month per backup.


These are simple rules to make your WMSPanel experience more secure and reliable.

Let us know if you have any questions.


May 13, 2021

KLV metadata in Nimble Streamer

KLV is a standard used for embedding meta information, usually into video feeds. Some of our customers use it for their use cases so they've been asking us for its support.

So now Nimble Streamer supports KLV metadata passthrough. It works for the following protocols:

  • MPEG-TS-based input: MPEG-TS over UDP and over HTTP, SRT and RIST.
  • Supported outputs are MPEG-TS over UDP, SRT and RIST.

So if your MPEGTS input has KLV streams in it, you'll be able to pass them through.

To enable this feature, you need to add max_forwarded_klv_streams parameter into Nimble config file to set the maximum number of expected streams.

max_forwarded_klv_streams=4

Don't forget to re-start Nimble instance to make it work.

You can use ffprobe to see how many KLV streams there are in your input MPEGTS streams.


Let us know if you have any questions and if you have any specific cases for KLV.


Related documentation

Nimble Streamer MPEGTS feature set

Advertizer per-session ads insertion and stats

Nimble Advertizer is a wide feature set for server-side ads insertion for Nimble Streamer software media server. It allows adding pre-roll and mid-roll ads into live and VOD streams according to customer business logic.

Dynamic ads can be inserted into HLS, RTMP, SLDP and Icecast outgoing live streams, along with HLS VOD output.

Previously the Advertizer allowed setting rules for ads insertion per application, per stream, as well as define per-user rules based on pay-per-view framework of Nimble Streamer.

With recent update it's now possible to apply Advertizer to more use cases:

  1. Make per-session ads insertion for each individual user by using customer-side session handler.
  2. Get per-session statistics to accumulate ads insertion metrics for advertisers' confidence.

In current article we'll focus on per-session mechanics without going into common details of Advertizer functionality like pre-requisites or general config grammar. You can find full set of details about Advertizer set setup and usage in Advertizer tech spec. You can also take a look Advertizer demo page showing the playback of all supported protocols with inserted ads.

Notice that per-session ads insertion is available for HLS, SLDP and Icecast outgoing live streams and for HLS VOD output. RTMP output is not supported for per-session scenarios.


1. Workflow


Let's see how Advertizer works with regular workflow and how it can be adjusted with per-session approach.

In a regular workflow the steps are straight-forward:

  1. Nimble Advertizer calls ads handler web application to get a business logic description.
  2. Advertising handler returns ads content description and applicability rules of what ads need to be inserted in which streams.
  3. Nimble Streamer gets the ads files and inserts their content them into output streams according to.

In per-session workflow, the second and third steps will have additional layer or activities.
  1. Your advertising handler (main handler) will now need to return the URL of per-session handler in addition to ads content description and applicability rules.
  2. Nimble Advertizer will call the per-session handler to send rules request and session info.
  3. Per-session handler gets the request and session info, and then makes the decision about who needs to watch which ads. It may also save the stats for further analysis.
  4. Per-session handler returns a set of rules specific to individual users.
  5. Nimble Advertizer serves ads according to new rules received by per-session handler, with session rules having priority over rules provided by the main handler.
Let's see how you can follow the described steps.

2. Enabling per-session handler


Per-session handler, just like main Advertizer handler, is a REST controller application which is called by Nimble Advertizer. You may use any language and framework to create it. Handler response must be a valid JSON text. Handler app must be available via HTTP/HTTPS protocol and accessible from Nimble instance.

Per-session handler URL needs to be returned in main handler's response in a new section called "session_handler" like shown below.

{

  "session_handler": {

    "apps": ["local", "remote", "live"],

    "url":"http://127.0.0.1:8085/session-handler"

  },

  "contents": [

    {"id":"1","uri":"http:\/\/127.0.0.1:8085\/ads\/1_180.mp4", "height":"180"},

    {"id":"2","uri":"http:\/\/127.0.0.1:8085\/ads\/1_240.mp4", "height":"240"},

    {"id":"3","uri":"http:\/\/127.0.0.1:8085\/ads\/1_360.mp4", "height":"360"},

    {"id":"4","uri":"http:\/\/127.0.0.1:8085\/ads\/1_360.mp4", "height":"480"},

    {"id":"5","uri":"http:\/\/127.0.0.1:8085\/ads\/pre-roll.aac.mp4"}

  ],

  "rules": [

  ]

}

This and other examples are available in Advertizer github repo, like this one.

The session_handler section may contain optional elements, here's full example:

"session_handler": {

  "url": "https://server/handler",

  "apps": ["app1", "app2"],

  "timeout": "1000",

  "onerror": "skip"

}

The elements mean the following:
  • url is the URL of per-session handler.
  • apps is a list of applications which are defined in Nimble Streamer, and which ads insertion will be applied to.
  • timeout is a period of time which Nimble can wait for per-session handler response. It's measured in milliseconds and it's 1000 by default.
  • onerror defines what action needs to be made is response is not received on time. It's "skip" by default which means that the playback will continue. The "stop" value means that the playback must be stopped and not processed since session handler has failed.

Let's see what happens when Nimble Streamer calls per-session handler.


3. Sending request to handler


First, open per-session-handler-request.json example from our github to illustrate the description below.

The request has two sections: session_info and rules_request. The handler is called in any of these events:

  • Each 30 seconds to send session_info part, you can use advertising_session_rules_request_interval to set it.
  • On each new connection, to send rules_request part. Also session_info can be sent with collected session information if available.
  • Each request_interval time slot, as defined in section 4.

Let's see what each section provides.

session_info is included in the request to show the statistics of ads viewership.

It has subsections for all sessions served by Advertizer since the last handler call, each session has its subsection. Here are the elements of each session:

  • session is a session ID.
  • app and stream show the stream which was served.
  • client_ip is the IP of a viewer.
  • user_agent is a data from viewer's User Agent header.
  • state is either active or inactive.
  • views contain data about ad viewership. It has 3 subelements: rule has ID of an ads rule applied, content has ID of ads content shown and uri is a URL of content applied.
  • userif you use pay-per-view framework, you will get user element which indicates viewer's user ID.

rules_request is included in requests to get response about what Nimble must do for sessions. Each session has individual section. It has the following elements.

  • session is s session ID.
  • protocol is a protocol type of a stream. This can be "hls", "sldp" or "icecast".
  • app and stream show the stream which is being served.
  • client_ip is the IP of a viewer.
  • user_agent is a data from viewer's User Agent header.
  • stream_time is a duration of a session prior to the moment when the request was sent

With these two sections, your per-session handler can make decisions about the ads content to be shown to your viewers.

Here's what per-session handler is expected to return to Nimble Advertizer.


4. Getting response from session handler


Take a look at response example below.

{
  "rules":
  [
    {
      "time_offset": 0,
      "time_sync": "stream",
      "type": "session",
      "id": 101,
      "contents": [{"id": ["1", "2", "3", "4"]}]
    }
  ],
  "rules_response":
  [
    {
      "rules": [101],
      "session": 5,
      "request_interval": 10
    }
  ]
}

You may also find it in Advertizer github.

Per-session handler response has two sections.

rules section defines rules for ads insertion which will be applied to sessions from rules_response section. The grammar for this section is the same as for main handler response describe in Advertizer spec. The only difference is that "type" element must always be "session".

These rules are also appended to the rules from the main handler response, so you may combine both per-session and default approaches to ads insertion. If there are per-session and main handler rules with the same rule ID, then session rule will be applied as it has priority.

rules_response section describes which ads insertion rules need to be applied to a particular session.

  • rules is the list of ads rules to be applied.
  • session is the ID of the session where rules are applied
  • request_interval defines how often after that Nimble Advertizer needs to request rules for this session.

The rules from response will be applied to current session once it's received by Advertizer. Some delay is possible in case of HLS just because of chunks download time and player reaction.



If you have any questions about Advertizer or per-session ads insertion, let us know.


Related documentation

Nimble AdvertizerNimble Advertizer spec, github repo for Advertizer,

March 30, 2021

Q1 2021 news: Cloud backups, Advertizer, Talkback, tutorials and more

Softvelum team kept working on products' improvements during Q1 of 2021 so let's see what we've got.


WMSPanel cloud service is the best way to control Nimble Streamer as it provides web UI for operating the vast majority of its features. Nimble settings are defined in the panel and synced up with Nimble instance.

Our customers always needed some way to back up their server settings, so in Q1 we introduced Nimble Cloud Backup. With cloud backups you can save streaming configs of your Nimble Streamer instances into distributed cloud database to improve redundancy. You can do it manually or automatically. If a customer needs to get back to some version of their cloud backup, he or she can restore it within WMSPanel account as a new server instance. After a backup is restored, a customer can initiate respective server instance to obtain these settings from WMSPanel, thus make new server to move into previous state. Learn more about Cloud Backups and try it in action.


Nimble Streamer Advertizer now has VOD server-side ads insertion. At the moment, HLS output with MPEG-TS and fMP4 containers is supported. Take a look at VOD SSAI overview article and also read tech spec page for full details.

We are working on other improvements for server-side ads insertion so stay tuned for updates.


SLDP protocol is actively used by our customers to provide low latency playback, especially after Flash has been officially abandoned and has put RTMP playback at denial. One of the use cases that our customers have discovered is browser-based videowall.

So we've made mosaic videowall demo page which allows playing 4 streams simultaneously. You can make your own mosaic using reference simplified version on our github. You may change it accordingly to make as many players as you need.


This quarter we also posted a number of video tutorials on our YouTube channel.

  • Converting NDI to Apple Low Latency HLS. There we demonstrate how you can use Nimble NDI feature set to get NDI input and transform it into Apple Low Latency HLS output. This can be a great case for customers who need to deliver live streams with low latency, check this brief description as well.
  • NDI to SRT to AWS Elemental MediaConnect via Nimble Streamer. Amazon recently introduced SRT support in their MediaConnect service. In our video we show how to take NDI input and use SRT feature set to stream live content out into AWS.
  • Widevine EZDRM setup in Nimble Streamer. Nimble DRM allows protecting live, DVR and VOD content using Widevine, Playready and FairPlay using various key management providers. This video uses EZDRM to show how easily you may set up Nimble DRM.
  • RTMP setup in Nimble Streamer. RTMP feature set is one of the most popular in Nimble Streamer so there we show all major scenarios related to the protocol.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get other upcoming updates.


Larix Broadcaster has got a number of significant updates this quarter.

Larix Broadcaster now supports Talkback, which is the ability to get an audio return feed. So while you generate a stream, you may get audio stream via SRT, RTMP, SLDP or even Icecast. This is a great feature for those creators who need to get a word from their studios while streaming live. Other updates of Larix include SRT Listen and Rendezvous support and some improvements for RIST protocol.

The talkback feature already got some attention. Take a look at How to: mobile reporter video demonstrating SRTMiniServer working with Larix Broadcaster by getting its live stream and returning talk back feed.

Larix Broadcaster SDK for Android and SDK for iOS pages now have architecture overview of Larix Broadcaster to make it easier to understand for beginners. They also refer to apps' sample code available on github.

Larix Player for Android and iOS was also updated with fresh libsrt and got SRT playback in Listen and Rendezvous modes.

You can learn more about Talkback, Larix SDKs updates and other features by reading this blog post.

Also, since we've mentioned MediaConnect, we've made Stream to AWS MediaConnect via SRT from Larix Broadcaster article describing the process in case you need to stream there from mobile.


That's all for now. Follow us via social networks to get our updates as they appear: Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Reddit.

March 23, 2021

NDI to SRT to AWS Elemental MediaConnect via Nimble Streamer

AWS Elemental MediaConnect can now receive SRT streams which means a lot of streaming software is able to deliver content there.

Being an active SRT Alliance member, Softvelum is excited to see this shift. So we decided to make a simple video where we show how Nimble Streamer can get NDI stream, transform it into SRT and publish to MediaConnect.



The described use case gives flexibility for various live production teams which use NDI as their primary format and who want to deliver their content over Amazon network.

Feel free to try this approach in action.

Take a look at related materials as well:


March 22, 2021

Stream to AWS MediaConnect via SRT from Larix Broadcaster

AWS Elemental MediaConnect recently announced their support for SRT ingest. This makes it capable of receiving streams from all modern encoders, media servers and other SRT-powered software.

Larix Broadcaster has full support of SRT besides RTMP. RTSP and RIST, it also allows streaming simultaneously to multiple destinations.

Here's a brief instruction for how you can stream from Larix to MediaConnect using SRT.


Set up MediaConnect


First, log into your AWS account, go to MediaConnect control page and open Flows section.

Then click on Create flow to enter flow creation dialog.


First you enter a name for your flow and select availability zone if you need to. The Protocol name needs to be SRT listener. Another important field to specify is Inbound port which will be used for further connection setup. Also, White list CIDR block must be specified to allow your devices streaming into Media Connect.

Once you save the flow, you'll see the Inbound IP address, you'll need it for further connection setup.


Click on Start for your flow to get it ready to receive the content.

Now let's proceed with Larix Broadcaster setup.


Set up Larix Broadcaster via Larix Grove


If you haven't installed Larix Broadcaster yet, you can do it via Google Play and AppStore.

Now, in order to set up Larix easily, we'll use Larix Grove. Larix Grove format allows propagating streaming setting across devices using special URL. It can be distributed via QR code for easier import in your device. So we'll create QR code with our SRT ingest point.

Go to Larix Grove wizard, enter srt://ipaddress:port in URL field and select Caller mode for this connection. Click on QR code button to get the image.


Having the QR code, scan it it on our device using any app capable of that. It will open Larix Broadcaster and will import the connection settings automatically. All you'll need to do  after that it to tap on big red start button to initiate the stream.


Check MediaConnect input


Now go to MediaConnect, you'll see when your input becomes active.


You will see charts which means you have the stream up and running. You may also change flow setup if you need to make changes specific to SRT protocol, like set up latency, maxbw or other parameters.



You can use AWS Elemental MediaConnect documentation to see what you can do next with your stream.


Related documentation

SRT capabilities of Softvelum productsLarix Broadcaster, AWS Elemental MediaConnect docs


March 20, 2021

Mosaic videowall with SLDP

We've released a demo page with mosaic videowall of SLDP HTML5 players in 2*2 grid. This is a useful setup for cases when you need to manually monitor and track multiple SLDP real-time streams on the same screen. By default, the sound is muted so it would not interfere, and players instances have VU-meters to track the audio level.

You can make your own mosaic using reference simplified version on our github. You may change it accordingly to make as many players as you need.

Learn more about SLDP low latency protocol and its benefits.

March 15, 2021

Converting NDI to Apple Low Latency HLS

Nimble Streamer supports NDI processing to get real-time input and produce multiple output formats. Apple Low Latency HLS is one of the protocols that can be produced from NDI.

We've made a brief video demonstration of how Nimble Streamer can produce Apple Low Latency HLS from NDI source stream.


Here are the steps described there:

  1. We use Nimble Streamer instance which has been previously installed.
  2. That instance has SSL set up with HTTP/2 enabled.
  3. Low Latency HLS is then enabled for a separate application.
  4. Then NDI processing was set up via Nimble Live Transcoder.
  5. The output is then checked for playback on Mac and iPhone.
We used default recommended settings:
  • 6 seconds chunks,
  • 1000ms parts duration,
  • 2000ms key frame interval.
Our latency is around 4 seconds on both Apple devices. You can follow our Low Latency HLS setup article to get more details about reducing the latency and other tips and tricks.

You can also watch Low Latency HLS setup tutorial and NDI setup tutorial to see more details about these respective technologies in depth.


March 4, 2021

Cloud backups of Nimble Streamer configuration

With cloud backups you can save streaming configs of your Nimble Streamer instances into WMSPanel to improve redundancy. You can do it manually or automatically.

Here are basic principles of our cloud backup approach.
  • Nimble Streamer streaming-related settings are defined via WMSPanel UI and stored in WMSPanel account and also locally in rules.conf file.
  • So usually customers perform backup by copying rules.conf for further restoration.
  • WMSPanel cloud backup allows copying all streaming-related settings into a distributed database within Softvelum cloud infrastructure.
  • A customer may initiate backups manually, as well as set automated backups creation. They all will be stored in the cloud.
  • If a customer needs to get back to some version of their cloud backup, he or she can restore it within WMSPanel account as a new server instance.
  • After a backup is restored, a customer can initiate respective server instance to obtain these settings from WMSPanel, thus make new server to move into previous state.
  • Cloud backups have multi-step removal process in order to avoid accidental damage.

The price is just 1 USD per month per backup.

More details can be found on Cloud backups page.

February 3, 2021

Larix SDK 2021-01 releases and tutorials

Softvelum mobile development team has released a major release for our SDKs.

Our subscribed customers have already received respective notifications and may download new packages under their WMSPanel account, where they always download them.

Larix Broadcaster and Larix Player SDKs for both Android and iOS now have version "2021-01". You can visit mobile releases history page to see the changes and here we'll briefly describe them.

First, we've created separate pages for each individual SDK to describe what customers get when they subscribe and give some other details.
  • Larix Broadcaster SDK for Android and SDK for iOS pages have architecture overview of Larix Broadcaster to make it easier to understand for beginners.
  • Larix Player SDK for Android and SDK for iOS has basic information, we'll add architecture description later on.

Now, here's what we added to the SDKs.

Larix Broadcaster SDK for both platforms:
  • Talkback audio return feed via SRT, RTMP, SLDP and Icecast. This is a feature which was often requested by Larix users, so we released in early January into production and after a few minor fixes, the final implementation is now available in SDK.
    Notice that if you want to enable Talkback in your apps, you'll need to purchase Larix Player SDK and use libsldp library from it. You'll get more details in release not in SDK package.
  • Publishing via SRT Listen and SRT Rendezvous. Larix now supports all modes of SRT for producing the live content.
  • libsrt 1.4.2: we moved to the latest stable release of libsrt.
  • librist 0.2.0RC2: RIST is getting more attention, so we moved to one of the latest librist release candidates.
Also, additional tutorials were added on our github showing how to create minimal application for iOS and Android based on our streaming library. They are just step-by-step guides easy to follow.

Larix Player for all platforms was also updated:
  • It can be used for enabling Talkback in Larix Broadcaster.
  • Playback via SRT Listen and SRT Rendezvous was added, so Player now supports all SRT modes to consume live streams.
  • libsrt 1.4.2: we also moved to the latest stable library here.

If you'd like to subscribe for any ot all of the SDKs described above, visit mobile SDKs purchase page or any individual SDK page for respective instructions.

Contact us if you have any questions and follow us via TwitterFacebookTelegramLinkedInYouTube and Reddit.