Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Top 10 Edtech stories of 2009

In his educational blog Dave Cormier picked his top ten Edtech stories of 2009.

BigBlueButton came in at #3.

Thanks Dave, like, no pressure on us now. :-)

Monday, December 21, 2009

We're covered in EdTechTalk

We just listened to an audio broadcast EdTechTalk, a community of educators interested in discussing and learning about the uses of educational technology. They covered BigBlueButton in EdTechWeekly #147. You can hear them talk about the product at about 29:00 minutes into their broadcast.

They were positive in our efforts to provide an integrated setup. They also correctly pointed out that we don't have record and playback in the system yet -- that's coming soon. Right now, we're focused on getting release 0.63 solid and finished. We've got plans for record and playback in the future, but we know from experience that we need to focus on the current release.

If 0.63 is good, then we'll have a solid base for adding record and playback in future iteration.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

BigBlueButton 0.62 Released

BigBlueButton 0.62 saw many improvements to desktop sharing. We're proud that it support desktop sharing from mac, pc, and unix systems.

Users will benefit from the faster desktop sharing, and developers will benefit from using the BigBlueButton VM as pre-configured development environment (it’s how we develop BigBlueButton internally).

See release notes for more information on this release and where to download and try it out.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

BigBlueButton Sightings!

It's always cool to see other people showing BigBlueButton.

This presentation was made during the Linux Day 2009 in Teramo, Italy. You can see the translated pages here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Monthly Release Cycle (or why it's not every two weeks)

The days of a long release cycle are gone.

A year ago, we'd plan this big feature for BigBlueButton, estimate that it would take two months, then end up finishing in four months (twice as long). And while the feature was good, we felt we had somehow missed the mark.

During the past six months, we've released a new version almost every month. This is due to our adopting a more agile development process: two week sprints, daily stand ups, and putting everything in an issue tracking system. The funny part is, we initially wanted to release every two weeks, but we ended up releasing every four weeks (again, twice as long!).

That's OK. In looking closer at our release cycle, our extra effort is a mixture of (a) testing, (b) working on customer-oriented projects for integration of BigBlueButton (which tends to accelerate other features, which is good), and constant refactoring of existing code. All good stuff for a healthy open source project. So, externally, you'll see we now release every month, but internally we are trying to keep our efforts to two week iterations to account for the above.

If you want to see what's planned for our upcoming iteration for this month (October), check the issues tagged for BigBluebutton 0.62 release

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Release of BigBlueButton 0.61

We've released BigBlueButton 0.61 (code named Titan). This release focused on stability, refactoring of source code, simplification of desktop sharing, and support for 640x480 video streams from web cameras.

You can check out the release notes here.

We also incorporated Xuggler, a java wrapper to ffmpeg, into our desktop sharing module for converting the images from the presenter's desktop into a video stream.

Xuggler is licensed under the Aferro General Public License. To understand how this license affects BigBlueButton, please see Installing Desktop Sharing.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Refresh for

While the developers are working on finishing up a new release for BigBlueButton, the main site just got an upgrade as well.

This updated site focuses on introducing BigBlueButton to new users more quickly so they can experiment and explore its features with others.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Phidgets def. A phidget is a physical representation and/or implementation of a GUI widget.

Check out this YouTube video of a raise hand phidget created by Yunatio Li (yuntao2006 at gmail with a dot com), a graduate student at the University of Carleton. Yunatio's supervisor is professor Michael Weiss.

This video demonstrates how an instructor could be notified, by a physical device, when a remote student raises their hand during a presentation in BigBlueButton. Here's another video that demonstrates logging into BigBlueButton using a smart card reader.

Very cool!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Open Source Components

We have just finished creating a page listing all the Open Source components used to create BigBlueButton. Turns out that there are over 14 different components, click here to view the list.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Release 0.6!

We're releasing BigBlueButton 0.6 today. The major change in this release is the new integrated VoIP module. That's right, you don't have to use a phone or skype anymore to connect to the voice conference, just connect your headset and click the shiny new icon.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Migrating to the Mate Framework

When BigBlueButton started, we used the Cairngorm framework. Then we switched to PureMVC. Now, we're switching to Mate.

While switching to different frameworks takes time and energy, you gain not only by using a better framework, but because the switch forces you to refactor code you've developed since the last time you did it.

Mate is a declarative programming framework for Flex. It lets you write business code the same way you write your Flex UI - using mxml tags. Of course, mxml code simply gets compiled to ActionScript. Mate abstracts this AS code for you, and lets you write clean, simple, minimalistic code.

And because Mate is centered around Events, the code you write is decoupled as there are no direct object-to-object calls, except when you want them

While Mate sounds great, it still has limitations. The framework provides components for most common tasks, such as calling HTTP Services, SQL queries, RemoteObjects, etc... However, when we started using Mate we noticed a lack of component for handling calls to Remote SharedObjects.

Luckily Mate is extensible, so we created our own SharedObjectInvoker. You can read about it and get the source here

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

We got the BigBlueButton Virtual Machine (VM) working and ready for download. This means you can run your own BigBlueButton server. The VM also serves as a complete development environemtn as well.

Check out this video (it shows how to run the VM and gives an example of makinga change to the client). Try downloading the VM and running it yourself. You'll need VMWare Player for Windows or Unix, or VMWare Fusion for Mac.

To give us feedback, please post to the BigBlueButton-Dev mailing list. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

One challenge with delievering open source software is the number of required components. In BigBlueButton, we have red5, activemq, swftools, mysql, ngingx, and so on.

For developers, there is lots of documentation at our Google Code Site on how to setup a developer environment, but that's for technical people who know their way around the command line.

To make it easier to try out (and develop for) BigBlueButton, we been working on packaging our system as a virtual machine that you could download and run within VMWare Player. We're testing this internally now and should have something to share with you shortly.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Integration with Moodle

We've been thinking a lot about integrating into Moodle the recording/plaback of a class. Looks like there's an pretty active discussion on this topic (after clicking the link, choose 'login as guest' to view the discussion).

Here's a quote from the discussion

My original post in this thread was more along the lines of providing a unified framework in Moodle that would work on most user's systems that could be used for anything from chat, to collaborative whiteboards, to recording voice messages, to video blogging, to secure video streaming, to full-on VoIP conferencing.

Right on.  To do this, the user needs something to record voice/video (Flash 10 does nicely) and there needs to be a streaming server (red5) to record and playback the A/V.   We've got the A/V components today in BigBlueButton and we're looking at how we best can integrate them into Moodle.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Red5 Phone

There's another Google Code project called SipStream that's working on integrating the Red5 phone into BigblueButton.

We're now working on integrating the SipStream project into the BigBlueButton code base so we can have built-in VoIP web conferencing.