April 10, 2019

SCTE-35 markers passthrough

Nimble Streamer covers wide variety of live streaming scenarios for numerous use cases. Some of them are related to advertising solutions which involve the usage of SCTE-35 markers which need to be delivered through Nimble Streamer without interruption and alternation.

Following the requests from our clients we added support for passing through the SCTE-35 markers  from incoming MPEG-TS and HLS streams into output MPEG-TS and HLS delivery. So if your original stream has some markers in it, they will be passed through into the outgoing stream.

To enable this feature you need to add the following parameter into Nimble Streamer config file:
scte35_processing_enabled = true
You can read this page to find out how exactly you can make changes to Nimble Streamer config.

If you find any issues with SCTE-35 passthrough, please file us a support ticket so we could help you.

Related documentation


Nimble Streamer live streaming scenarios, Nimble Streamer configuration file, Nimble Advertizer,

March 31, 2019

2019 Q1 summary

The first quarter of year 2019 brought a new product and several interesting updates by Softvelum team.


Qosifire live streaming quality monitoring service

Qosifire is a web service for monitoring live streams' availability and quality.
This is our approach to quality monitoring for a variety of streaming companies which need simple, powerful and reliable solution.

Qosifire has 3 basic components:

  • Agent software is installed on customer server to check streams;
  • Our web service console collects data from agents;
  • Free mobile apps notify users' devices about alerts and show stats.

At the moment Qosifire supports Icecast audio streaming quality monitoring. We are working on HLS quality monitoring for video and audio - stay tuned for our updates.
As for pricing, Qosifire is a SaaS with simple and affordable cost structure.


Now let's get back to the flagship product - Nimble Streamer.

For those of our customers who are working with VOD, take a look at video discussion between Jan Ozer of Streaming Learning Center and Yury Udovichenko of Softvelum, called Dynamic packetizing: pros/cons/recipes about pros and cons of dynamic packetizing of live, VOD and DVR content. Your video comments are welcomed!

As for live streaming, you may remember that in 2017 Adobe announced they would stop Flash technology support by the end of 2020. For all live streaming companies this means the decline of RTMP end-user "last mile" streaming.
We've released an article called Get ready for Flash farewell and RTMP decline which describes the timeline for that decline and describe the alternative which our team created to solve that problem - the SLDP low latency live streaming technology. Read this article and let us know of your thoughts on this.

Meanwhile our customers keep using RTMP for "first mile" delivery of live streams, as well as for streams' transfer between origin and edge nodes of their delivery infrastructure. Using that protocol, people care about security of their delivery over public network, so we kept receiving requests for adding RTMPS (RTMP over SSL) support in our products. So we did it.

RTMPS in now supported in Nimble Streamer in all delivery modes like publish, reception and playback.
In addition, RTMPS and RTSPS are now supported in Larix Broadcaster application and mobile SDK for Android and iOS.
Moreover, RTMPS is supported in SLDP Player to allow not just secure publishing but also secure playback in case it's needed too.

Those of our live streamers who use Nimble DVR for recording and playback, might find a new API for DVR export to MP4 very convenient.

Speaking of convenience, take a look at server tags in WMSPanel. We made that for those who has big number of servers and would like to access them easier through the panel.


Last but now least, take a look at The State of Streaming Protocols for Q1 2019 with RTMP declining and HLS going up.


We'll keep you updated on our latest features and improvements. Stay tuned for more updates and follow us at Facebook and Twitter to get latest news and updates of our products and services.

The State of Streaming Protocols - 2019 Q1

Softvelum team continues analyzing the state of streaming protocols. It's based on stats from WMSPanel reporting service which handles data from Wowza Streaming Engine and Nimble Streamer servers - there were 3800+ servers on average this quarter. WMSPanel collected data about more than 14 billion views. Total view time for our server products is nearly nearly 1.7 billion hours this quarter, or 18+ million view hours per day.

Let's take a look at the chart and numbers of this quarter.

You can see HLS share has increased to 74% with RTMP going down to 12%. It's early to say for sure but this might be one of the first signs of shifting from RTMP due to its future decline. We'll see the progress through the year.

The State of Streaming Protocols - Q1 2019 

You may compare that to the picture of 2018 streaming protocols landscape:

March 17, 2019

Server tags in WMSPanel

WMSPanel has been the best web service for media servers reporting for many year so far. We're improving our reporting and monitoring capabilities all the time.

Following the feedback from our customers we've improved our servers management page.

Now you can assign any number of tags to each media server instance and filter them by those tags in servers list. This especially helps customers with significant number of servers to distinct them by their functions and purposes.

To define the tags for a server, go to servers list (Servers top menu). Here you can click on gear icon and select Edit item or click on server name and them click Edit on a newly opened page. You will see server details page.


The Tags edit field will allow entering multiple tags.

Once you save data, you will see server details. Once you go back to servers list, you will see new added tags as well as "All" and "No tags" items. You can click on any number of tags, this will show only those servers which have the selected tags. Clicking on "All" will reset the filter and show all servers. "No tags" will show those servers which have no tags at the moment.



We believe this will help you work with your servers more convenient.

Related documentation


WMSPanel media servers reporting

February 20, 2019

DVR export to MP4

DVR feature set in Nimble Streamer provides streams recording and playback. Basic playback is available via a direct HLS or MPEG-DASH link as described in described in this article.

However you may need a "hard copy" of a recording which is just a MP4 file. It can now be exported via Nimble API call. Let's see how you can use it.

First, you need to set up Nimble Streamer to process direct API calls. Open API description page and read "Starting point: enable API access" section regarding the initial setup. You may also want to secure your calls as describe in "Option: Making authorized requests" section.

Second, you need to use this HTTP GET call to obtain the archive:
/manage/dvr/export_mp4/<app>/<stream>[?start=<utc_time>&end=<utc_time>]
The content of MP4 result file will be returned in HTTP response body.

The "start" and "end" parameters allow defining the time frame which is going to be exported.


This command will get a portion of your archive:
curl -o archive.mp4 -v "http://127.0.0.1:8082/manage/dvr/export_mp4/live/stream?start=1542708934&end=1542712534" 

This one will download the entire archive: 
curl -o archive.mp4 -v http://127.0.0.1:8082/manage/dvr/export_mp4/live/stream

As mentioned above, the result will be returned as a body of HTTP response.



If you have any questions on this or other features, let us know.

Related documentation


Nimble Streamer DVR feature setDVR setup for Nimble StreamerLive streaming scenariosUsage snapshots

February 10, 2019

RTMPS: SSL support for RTMP in Nimble Streamer

Today RTMP still remains the de-facto industry standard for publishing of live streams from encoders and their delivery between nodes over the Internet. Nimble Streamer has full support for this protocol in all 4 delivery modes - publish and get published stream, provide playback and pull streams.

Having a constant need for security for data transmission, our customers requested more security for RTMP delivery. So now Nimble Streamer supports RTMPS which is RTMP delivery over SSL in all 4 modes.

If you're not familiar with RTMP usage, please refer to RTMP feature set digest page.
If you already have some experience with Nimble Streamer setup, please follow the steps below to make adjustments to your current setup and use SSL for RTMP.

Set up SSL certificate


This step is required if your Nimble Streamer server will be providing RTMPS playback.

You need to set up SSL certificates via nimble.conf. Read this article to see what steps need to be followed.

Receiving RTMPS


Setup is done the same way as it's done for un-encrypted RTMP: you need to add global or application setting and then define interfaces to receive stream.
The only difference is the interface setup - you need to check Use SSL parameter for interface via UI.


If you need to use both RTMP and RTMPS, you need to add 2 ports, one of them with SSL checkbox being checked. The rest of the setup is the same as for un-encrypted RTMP, read this article as example.

Also notice that Larix Broadcaster supports RTMPS publishing so you can use it for secure delivery from users' mobile devices to your streaming infrastructure.

Re-publishing RTMP over SSL


The re-publishing setup is also doesn't differ from common use case setup, except for specifying Use SSL parameter for port as shown below.


The rest of parameters are the same as for non-SSL stream setup described here.

Pulling RTMPS streams


Once you have RTMPS stream available via some URL, you can pull it by Nimble Streamer. Setting up RTMPS stream pull is set up the same way as it's done for un-encrypted RTMP. The only difference is the URL, you just need to use rtmps:// prefix and specify SSL port.
rtmps://192.168.0.1:443/live/stream
You can see example here:



Other fields are used the same way as usual.

Providing RTMPS playback


Once you have your certificate ready as described in "Set up SSL certificate" section above, your RTMPS streams will be available as other RTMP stream. The only difference is rtmps:// prefix and a port number in URL, e.g.:
rtmps://192.168.0.1:443/live/stream
Other than that there's no difference from common playback setup.

Notice that even though RTMP is a great way to publish streams, its playback scenarios will soon be declined by the industry due to Flash technology support discontinuity. So if you need real-time latency for live streams, take a look at Get ready for Flash farewell and RTMP decline article explaining to handle this shift. However, pulling and publishing capabilities will not go anywhere so you can use them as much as you need.


If you need to change the outgoing content, like create multiple streams for ABR, use our Live Transcoder for Nimble Streamer to transform. It has high performance and low resource usage.

For other live streaming scenarios, check our live streaming use cases.

Related documentation


RTMP feature setLive Streaming featuresLive Transcoder for Nimble StreamerPay-per-view for Nimble Streamer,

January 30, 2019

Introducing Qosifire - live streaming quality monitoring service

Live streaming is an industry which is rigorous to quality. If you participate in live auction or track surveillance, you cannot miss any part of live stream. Even if you run an online radio or sport stream, your viewers must not find themselves in front of black screen or hear silence.

A lot of companies are building their own streaming infrastructures, that's why QoS - quality of streaming service - and QoE - quality of content experience - are highly anticipated. Hence the need for some tools and services which might help monitoring the quality of live streams 24/7.

Qosifire is another approach to quality monitoring for a variety of streaming companies which need simple, powerful and reliable solution. It's a web service for monitoring live streams' availability and quality.

Qosifire is based on these basic parts:
  • Monitoring agent software is set up on your servers. It tracks streams real-time for a number of protocol-specific items and sends results to monitoring service.
  • Monitoring service gives you full picture over your streams performance. It collects data about streams, tracks issues, provides end-users with access to stats and sends email and mobile alerts.
  • Mobile applications notify users about alerts via push notifications and give them ability to track stats.

Icecast streams monitoring is the only currently available protocol. We are working on video streams monitoring at the moment.
Current audio monitoring feature set covers all Icecast-specific transfer details on both network and protocol level. Qosifire also checks for buffering issues and provides silence detection.

Qosifire is a subscription-based service with free trial. You can use it almost full scale and then subscribe for monthly payments.


Qosifire products set is brought to you by Softvelum, the team behind your favorite Nimble Streamer media server with Nimble Live Transcoder, WMSPanel reporting panel, a set of mobile streaming solutions and other products you might have used already. All of our experience for high-performance and reliability was implemented into Qosifire and we'll keep rolling out more features during 2019.

Visit Qosifire web site to get more details and start your free trial period.

January 10, 2019

Get ready for Flash farewell and RTMP decline

In 2017 Adobe announced that they would stop supporting the Flash technology at the end of 2020.

This announcement agitated the media streaming industry as it meant that Flash Player, a critical requirement for consuming RTMP streams in web browsers, would not be updated and distributed anymore. Major browser owners like Google, Mozilla and Microsoft released their timelines for Flash decline. Common intention is to disable Flash plugin by default in 2019 and then remove Flash completely in 2020. So with the final release of Flash and its removal from browsers, the majority of Internet users will not be able to play RTMP streams.

It’s hard to overrate the impact of Flash and RTMP streaming protocol for online streaming industry. Flash gave a flexible way to implement interactive browser applications, while RTMP gave ability to deliver video and audio to those apps. This tandem boosted the industry, showing the potential of media delivery and consumption over the Internet, opening the door to other technologies. Now we live in a world of HTML5/JavaScript web apps in MSE-enabled browsers with protocols like HLS, MPEG-DASH and WebRTC to deliver the content. As you can see in our quarterly and yearly State of Streaming Protocols reports, HLS now dominates the delivery field with nearly two thirds of traffic.

However, RTMP and Flash remain active, as you can see in the aforementioned report as well. The reason is simple: up until now RTMP was the best way to deliver ultra-low latency live streams to end-users. Neither HLS nor other HTTP chunks-based protocols could provide proper level on latency and start-up delay.

A number of areas require the streaming latency and start-up delay to be as low as possible:
  • Watching sports on your device, you don’t want to get your picture a minute later than your friends who are watching TV. The e-sports also fall under the same category. Regardless of the nature of competition you want to see what’s happening right now.
  • Betting and bidding use cases have big money at stake so you don't want to be even a couple of seconds behind the other participants to make your bet.
  • Law enforcement, security and surveillance scenarios demand to have a hand on pulse in real-time to make an immediate response in case of emergency.

So with the fade of RTMP, a lot of people will get a very bad user experience. Thus many companies are looking for a replacement. Besides the core requirement of latency and delay, new solutions must have support for new codecs and adaptive bitrate (ABR). RTMP was designed long before these elements became a must-have, so currently they are available mostly in HTTP-based protocols like HLS or MPEG-DASH.

We understand the strive of our customers for something better so our team began creating a technology which would cover all the needs mentioned above. As a transport layer, we chose WebSockets which is now the industry standard for cross-applications interaction. A lot of communication solutions have been using WebSockets for several years, so the choice for underlying foundation was not hard.

On top of that we built our media delivery layer to cover all the use cases we discussed above. This required both server-side and player-side implementation to use full advantages for this new technology for last mile delivery.

We called it SLDPSoftvelum Low Latency Protocol. As all of our products, it’s built with high performance and low resource usage in mind.

Its basic features are listed below.
  • Sub-second delay between origin and player. This applies both to start-up delay and on streaming latency. This is a crucial part of SLDP.
  • SLDP is codec-agnostic. You can delivery and play whatever codec your end-user platform can play. These are H.264, VP8, VP9 and H.265/HEVC video with AAC or MP3 audio.
  • ABR support for switching between bitrates according to your network conditions. Changing channels takes just a GOP time.
  • SLDP is firewall-friendly as it uses HTTP/HTTPS.

SLDP provides full feature set for media delivery and consumption available to you with low efforts.

Let’s see what steps you will follow to replace Flash-based RTMP streaming with SLDP.

Input stream processing


Softvelum Nimble Streamer freeware media server has full support for SLDP for a server-side. This includes processing incoming streams via any of supported protocols and codecs.

If you already use Nimble Streamer for processing some live input then you’re all set and good to go further. You won’t need to do anything else to prepare your content for SLDP streaming.

If you haven’t yet tried live streaming with Nimble Streamer then first start with installing it on your server.

Second, you need to describe incoming streams. Nimble Streamer is capable of receiving published RTMPpulling RTMPpulling and receiving RTSP, process SRT streams via all existing modes, take MPEG-TS input, pull HLS and even Icecast streams. Each way has its setup procedure, follow the respective links to get it done. All operations are performed via easy-to-use web UI and it will take just a couple minutes to complete.

Most common case is taking published RTMP stream as input. Once you describe the incoming stream and push it to Nimble, it will appear in the output streams and you’ll be able to use it for playback right away. You can also take a look at other RTMP-related articles.

The input codecs can be whatever you have in your source stream, it depends basically on your encoder and transport protocol capabilities described on this page. At the moment it’s H.264/H.265/VP8/VP9 video and AAC/MP3 audio.

If you'd like to use multiple resolutions in your streams, check ABR setup how-to with general steps to complete that.

Stream delivery


Having your streams been set up properly via web UI, you can either use them directly for playback or build some network for further delivery. You may want to consider setting up origin server to deliver your content to several edges over various networks using appropriate delivery protocols like RTMP, SRT or any other. Take a look Softvelum usage snapshots to see how you can use SLDP with our other products. You can also check frequently asked questions to see best practices of SLDP usage and tuning.

Speaking of complex use cases, check our article in Haivision company blog describing stream delivery from Haivision encoder via SRT through delivery network to end user player using SRT and SLDP protocols. It should give a great overview of both protocols’ capabilities.

As an extension of Nimble Streamer capabilities, you can use Amazon CloudFront which has full support for WebSockets so SLDP can be delivered via this delivery network seamlessly. Take a look at CloudFront setup for SLDP delivery to learn more about proper settings. You can use any other network with WebSockets support, you can be sure Nimble Streamer can be used fine there.

Up to this point the setup wasn’t much different from any other solution. You just set up your infrastructure to get input and deliver the output to your client.

At the edge of your delivery chain (whether it’s one server or the entire network), you will get a playable SLDP stream URL which you can use on your client, both browser and mobile.

Browser playback


Now it's time to start replacing your Flash-based web player with SLDP player.

SLDP web player is an HTML5 JavaScript app. It connects to media server via WebSockets, exchanges commands, receives media data, plays it on a browser’s MSE engine and provides control over the playback process.

We provide freeware version of SLDP web player, you can download it here and set up for your own use cases. There you can see sample JavaScript code and description of player's parameters. It works in any MSE-enabled browser regardless of your platform, e.g. Chrome or Explorer on Windows, Chrome or Mozilla on Linux etc. You can even use it on Android browsers even though we have a separate app for that platform (see the next section).

If you’d like to make deep customization of look-and-feel, you can obtain our web player SDK. It’s available via subscription which covers updates and technical support from our SLDP team.

Mobile devices playback


If your users need to have iOS or Android playback experience, they either use your own branded native applications by now or have some free apps from markets installed.

In the first case, you probably have some mobile app in place, so you’ll just need to add another stream receiving engine in addition to RTMP. Softvelum provides SLDP Player SDK for Android and SDK for iOS. Both SDKs are available via subscriptions which cover periodical updates and technical support from our mobile development team. Having our SDKs, you’ll be able to add SLDP processing and playback to your existing apps or create brand new ones. This won’t require much efforts by your mobile developers as SDK has easy-to-use code of our SLDP Player free app.

We provide free SLDP Player applications available for iOS and Android. Your users can download it for free and play designated URLs. You can use player app to evaluate our SDK capabilities before purchasing premium subscription. Those apps' source code is available as part of SDKs packages too.

Further usage


So at this point you should have your RTMP playback be replaced by SLDP with our solutions to cover existing scenarios and also to provide more features like new codecs or ABR. This overview article showed the basic steps you can follow to consider SLDP as a replacement of RTMP for end-user playback for low latency scenarios.

You don't have to make this technology shift right away as RTMP is still working perfectly. However you should definitely consider researching its replacement with some new technology. And we hope SLDP will be the one you choose for production.

Please check some snapshots of Softvelum products usage to see how you can have SLDP utilized with other products of our company, including content protection, DVR, Live Transcoder and Nimble Advertizer.

If you have any questions regarding our products, feel free to contact our helpdesk.

December 24, 2018

2018 summary

The New Year of 2019 is approaching so it's time to look back at what Softvelum has accomplished.
We've had an interesting year as you will find out below.

First, take a look at a few numbers in our State of Streaming Protocols for 2018, our customers stream more each year and we're excited to see continuous connections number growth.

We had a couple of publications which you may find interesting:

Speaking of streaming use cases, this year we started making series of "snapshots" to show how Softvelum products can be used for real-life streaming scenarios. As example, check first case study with mobile-to-mobile delivery chain or "power origin" approach to building CDN. Let us know if you'd like to see more scenarios covered like that.

Nimble Advertizer


The biggest start of this year is Nimble Advertizer. It's a live streaming server-side ads insertion (SSAI) framework for Nimble Streamer media server.

Key features of Advertizer are:
  • Pre-roll ads per each connection.
  • Mid-roll ads flexible timing setup.
  • Per-stream ads insertion business logic.
  • Personalized ads based on users' IDs.
Advertizer supports HLS, RTMPSLDP and Icecast protocols output. It supports both video+audio and audio-only modes. Advertizer may use all input live protocols supported by Nimble Streamer, which are RTMPRTSPSRTUDTHLSMPEG2TSIcecast and SHOUTcast.

The workflow is easy to adopt within any business logic:
  1. Nimble Streamer media server processes incoming streams to get the content.
  2. Nimble Advertizer calls your handler web application to get business logic description.
  3. Advertizer gets files with advertisements to process them via Nimble Streamer according to your logic defined via handler.
  4. Nimble inserts the ads into original media and packages it into output protocol.
  5. End user connects to Nimble and gets the stream containing original content mixed with advertisements.
  6. Playback is running smooth regardless of ads insertion over time in any player which supports the output protocol.
You can read full technical spec for more information. Also Nimble Advertizer demo shows simple ad insertion scenarios for HLS/RTMP/SLDP/Icecast in action, with all setup details.

SLDP


Softvelum Low Delay Protocol was introduced in 2017 and this year it's been widely adopted among our customers as a replacement for RTMP low latency delivery.
It's now gaining momentum since Adobe announced that it's going to decline Flash in 2020 which will cause elimination of Flash-based RTMP playback. Major browsers will also decline its usage in 2020 so those who need to have low latency real-time streaming, will have to choose other technologies.

SLDP is a great replacement with its sub-second latency, buffer control, adaptive bitrate and multiple codecs support. Based on WebSockets, it allows playback on MSE-enabled browsers with our HTML5 player, as well as mobile playback on iOS and Android devices with our free apps. Early next year we'll introduce more details on transition from RTMP to SLDP for your ultra-low latency, so stay tuned for our blog and social networks.

Meanwhile, CDNs start adding WebSockets support which allows SLDP delivery natively through their networks. Take a look at CloudFront WebSockets delivery setup with Nimble Streamer as example of such support.

We've been improving SLDP protocol through this year to make it a great solution for RTMP playback replacement.

Nimble Streamer


Besides Advertizer and SLDP, Nimble Streamer also got a number of improvements.

The aforementioned Jan Ozer article How to Create a Live HLS Feed With HEVC refers to fMP4 container support for live streaming. In addition to fMP4 support for live streams, Nimble now has VOD support for fMP4 HLS. So if your customers use latest iOS version, you could use that container for both live and VOD to optimize your distribution costs.

Our customers have been requesting more features regarding end-users connections control. Nimble Streamer now supports sessions authorization via external handler to decide which of the connecting users may continue receiving the stream. Player connects to Nimble Streamer instance via any stream URL, then Nimble reaches the external handler which returns response to define further behavior of the server.
This gives even bigger flexibility to paywall feature set which allows building monetization solution for your content.

Nimble Streamer now has DVR thumbnails generation as JPG files and as single-frame MP4 files, this helps showing preview for any point in recorded stream.

Mobile products


Our mobile solutions are being improved all the time following customers' feedback.

Larix mobile SDK now supports SRT streaming from Android and iOS devices. Nimble Streamer had SRT support for a couple of years so far, so adding that protocol to a mobile publishing SDK has been highly anticipated.

Modern devices are getting support for HEVC (H.265) encoding, so Larix apps and SDKs have support for it as well. You'll need to use RTSP or SRT protocols as a transport for it, as RTMP has no HEVC support.

Latest mobile devices also have high frame rate, e.g. 60fps, so Larix has that for both for iOS and Android on those devices which have that feature support. On Android phones you can now select fixed or variable frame rates, depending on current device capabilities - that's crucial for some transcoding solutions.

SLDP Player for Android and iOS now has Icecast support to give playback capabilities for numerous online radios.
In case you use HTML5 browser player on iOS and have any issues, take a look at SLDP iOS Player fallback setup.

Minor improvements and updates were continuously added to both products during entire year.


We have a couple of new products to deliver for you next year, so stay tuned for updates and we'll continue providing the best possible improvements to help you grow your business.

Our team wishes you a Happy New Year!

The State of Streaming Protocols - 2018 summary

Softvelum team continues analyzing the state of streaming protocols. It's based on stats from WMSPanel reporting service which handles data from Wowza Streaming Engine and Nimble Streamer servers.

In 2018, WMSPanel collected data about 48 billion views.
We also added a new metric - total view time for our server products. It's nearly 6.7 billion hours.
On average, there were 3600 to 3900 servers under WMSPanel observation at any moment of time.

Let's take a look at the chart and numbers of this quarter:

The State of Streaming Protocols - 2018