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Digital Signage Application Launch

Today we launched the second major version of DCSI's digital out-of-home media player. The first version, written primarily in Adobe Flex on Adobe AIR, has been going strong for over a year.

The PHP back end automates video and image conversion, playlist building, and content pushing, and monitors each player's health and actual play logs. Weather, sports scores, and news feeds are all pulled live, with caching built in (on server AND client) to reduce bandwidth requirements and improve reliability. Since there are hundreds of active locations with thousands more contracted, we've put a lot of effort into streamlining the way this application works.

DCSI legacy player software DCSI's legacy player has one fixed state, but can display a wide variety of content.

Two point oh

Version two is written primarily in JavaScript on the Appcelerator Titanium platform. It also allows new states to be defined and added to the player, so panels can be any size, anywhere on the screen. The player smoothly transitions from state to state, which in itself can be more visually engaging and draw the eye.

DCSI's new player software Sample states for the new player (current count is over a dozen). In "real life" the panels smoothly resize and reposition themselves based on state and content. The logo, weather, and time are also regular panels, and can also change size and position, or even be replaced with any video, image, or RSS feed.

Difference in development

It can be both exciting and harrowing developing on Titanium. At Geekworks we're used to working with bleeding edge technologies, but there are times when Titanium's beta status can be risky for production code. Some days Appcelerator's cloud goes down, and that means I may not be able to compile until it comes back up.

Fortunately the bad times are few and far between, and the support team is always quick to respond. Actually, because Titanium is an open source project, it's often easier to get fast support than it can be with Adobe AIR.

And the winner is...?

I don't think either AIR or Titanium will become the One True Answer for cross-platform development and deployment. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and the goals driving each platform appear significantly different. I will continue to use AIR for quick personal applications and things I want to make easy for "the masses". It's easier and faster to deploy an AIR app, and you can run the same installer on Windows, Mac, or Linux.

Titanium has become a better choice at work, despite its beta status. I expect we will continue using it for many client projects to come. It always seemed like we were fighting AIR's sandbox issues and other OS restrictions, which makes Titanium the clear choice for enterprise software and kiosk or other "locked down" systems. All this may change as both platforms evolve.

Roll out!

Today's launch will be about 5 venues in Phoenix, AZ. After that we will begin rolling out to over a hundred locations across the United States. Where do you live? I'd love to get some comments from people who have seen either version in action. Post your location, and I'll let you know where to find the nearest sign!

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