HTML5 client is coming!

Hosting

As many of you know, browsers will stop supporting Adobe Flash at the end of 2020.  In response, Blindside Networks has been transitioning from Flash to HTML5 for BigBlueButton (referred hereafter as simply “HTML5 client”).

We completed the first step of this transition in September 2018 with the release of the HTML5 client for mobile users.

Since then, whenever a student joined a BigBlueButton session using their mobile device (phone or tablet), their mobile browser automatically loaded the HTML5 client.   This first version of the HTML5 client focused on the functionality needed for viewers (students). The moderator and presenter functionality still required the Flash client.

That is going to change. We have been working on implementing the remaining moderator and presenter capabilities in the HTML5 client.

We are ready to make a complete transition to a HTML5 client on April 20, 2019.

This document gives you an overview of the transition, where you can test the new client, how Blindside Networks will support you to ensure a smooth transition, and a list of frequently asked questions.

Try it out yourself

Here’s a link to some overview videos of the new HTML5 client

https://bigbluebutton.org/html5

We have a public test server available where you can try out the new HTML5 client anytime you wish.  See

https://test.bigbluebutton.org/

Overview of HTML5 client

The new HTML5 client requires no Flash, no Java for screen share, no browser extensions, and no plugins to download an install.  It’s pure HTML5 and runs withing the browser.

In comparison to the older Flash client, the HTML5 client loads twice as quickly, requires about a third of the download bandwidth, is more accessible to screen readers, and provides a unified user interface across desktop, laptop, Chromebook, and mobile devices (iOS 11+ and Android 6.0+).

For desktop users, we recommend Chrome and FireFox browsers.  

February 2019 our logs showed that 67% of users were on Chrome, and 10% on FireFox, so almost 80% were using the recommended browsers by default.

We do provide limited support for Edge, but Edge does not currently support sharing webcams very well (it takes a long time for them to appear).  However, this support should improve later this year as Microsoft is moving towards using the Chromium engine within Edge.

Users can also use Safari in Mac OS X, but Safari does not currently support screen sharing.

In short, we recommend users use Chrome or FireFox?  These browsers have really good support for web real-time communication libraries (WebRTC), which enables the browser to send/receive audio and video without plugins.

The BigBlueButton HTML5 client loads within the mobile browser on iOS (Safari Mobile) and Android (Google Chrome).  Because it runs within the browser, there is no mobile app to install/update.

How Blindside Networks will support you in the transition

There is nothing you need to do on the day of the switch — it all happens our our end.

For support, we have a single support page that lists all the support resources for Blindside Networks, including training material for the upcoming BigBlueButton HTML5 client.

Based on early testing (some customers have already transitioned over), we think you’ll find the new HTML5 client easier to use than the current client.

To help with the transition, we offer to provide a training session for your school on the new HTML5 client.  To schedule a training session, send us an e-mail to support@blindsidenetworks.com with some suggested times and we’ll confirm.

We’ll be sending out more hosting updates on the HTML5 client as April 20th approaches.  And, if you have any questions at any time, don’t hesitate to contact us at support@blindsidenetworks.com.

FAQ

Do I need to do anything before April 20th?

The switch to the HTML5 client will be transparent.  After April 20th, users will load the HTML5 client by default.

Can I switch earlier than April 20th (or later than April 20)?

Yes, just send us an e-mail to support@blindsidenetworks.com with details on when you would like be switched over.

What are the newer features?

The HTML5 client now lets you share YouTube videos during the session; however, the videos are not yet captured in the recordings.

What features are missing in the HTML5 client?

We’ve implemented pretty much all the current features of the Flash client except the ability to support live closed captioning.  We’ll be working on adding live closed caption to the HTML5 client after the April 20th.  For a detailed list of what is left, and known issues, see

https://support.blindsidenetworks.com/hc/en-us/articles/360025341371.