Manchester, UK’s NowSignage has announced what it touts as the “world’s first digital signage platform to become truly hardware agnostic through a single code base.”
The argument is that NowSignage users can now load their digital signage content on to any screen hardware “without having to compromise on security, reliability or performance.”
“Our global customer base demanded a digital signage solution that isn’t limited by hardware constraints,” suggests CEO Nick Johnson. “As we operate through our channel partners, NowSignage has many distributors and resellers who already have existing relationships with preferred hardware and SoC manufacturers, and it is therefore imperative that our software solution is compatible with all providers.”
The company argues:
Traditionally, cloud-based digital signage platforms build and support many versions of their application, to enable compatibility with as many hardware options as possible. This can soon become quite a burden for technology companies as they need to support different code bases to function across the major Operating Systems (Windows, Android, Apple and Linux) as well as variations of these Operating Systems utilized by leading manufacturers, such as Samsung using Tizen and LG using WebOS.
“It all started by asking a simple question to our development team,” says Johnson. “Why does it all need to be so complicated, can we just build one code base that supports all hardwares?”
“To keep our agile team delivering features as they are required by customers and far ahead of our competitors, we had to discover a path through the problem of building multiple applications,” adds Matt Ryder, CTO. “Our new single code base enables us to deploy updates that are compatible with all Operating Systems at a fraction of the time, meaning less time wasted and more time spent releasing great features to our customers.”
NowSignage says this approach benefits the industry as it streamlines onboarding, simplifies installs, and enables new features to be released to market at speed.
I wondered if this was genuinely different from any number of CMS companies that have developed and released “web players” that would fire up and run on any number of platforms. The challenge with those, in general, is that they were truncated versions of the real player applications, and did only the basics. In effect, as I often say, they got their software to work, but that’s about it.
So I asked Johnson, who relayed Ryder’s POV on this:
Where other providers start from scratch, or from a few tiny modules that they’ll work from when developing for a new platform, our approach is to load the mainline codebase with the platform and devolve specific components only where required.
A great example of this is found within our Tizen build, we started off by running the exact same code we have running on play.nowsignage.com and then worked out any differences in the platform – we have custom code to handle file storage and Tizen’s built-in media player. All other functionality will be homogenous, Power BI reports loading on your laptop will perform identically on a Tizen display and iOS-based tablet.
The comprehensive test suite that we have to ensure quality on the web-based codebase does not need to be altered, rewritten or updated and maintained separately. We’re saving a great deal of time by basically writing new features once and deploying those features to everyone at once.
We’re at the beginning of our exploration into our next-generation of player, and the industry will see that we’ll be delivering features more rapidly than before, such as multi-zone display, real-time content changes and integrations with Google Drive, Office 365 and Spotify – rolled out to all customers, no matter your hardware choice.”
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.