Celebrating 25 years of NDS with Frank van den Berg

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Celebrating 25 years of NDS with Frank van den Berg - Software Engineer

In this fourth week of expert interviews, it is time to ask Frank van den Berg all our burning questions. Like Jeroen, our first expert, he is one of our software developers. In the four years that he’s been with us, he’s done a lot and learned even more. In this interview, he will walk us through our PADS4 HTML5 Viewer.

Q: Can you tell us Frank, when did you start working at NDS and what is it you do?

I was 22 years old, recently graduated, and looking for my first job. After a long search I found NDS, where they were looking for a junior software engineer. I’ve always loved gaming design and software engineering, and I already kept myself busy with different techniques and design. At NDS I could combine lots of different things, from User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) Design to solving problems on the backend, it’s all part of my daily activities. The days are never boring and time literally flies here. I’ve been here for four years now and I’m not planning on leaving anytime soon.

Q: What can you tell us about the PADS4 HTML5 Viewer?

To start explaining the PADS4 HTML5 Viewer, it might be smart to tell you a little something about HTML5 first. HTML stands for HyperText Markup language, and HTML5 is the most recent version of this language. It gives the visible part of your webpage a solid structure.

The HTML5 Viewer has one very important goal; to be able to support a wide range of platforms, from System on Chip to Android and even Windows in the future. When we started building the HTML5 Viewer, it was supposed to be a small project, only to replicate the PADS4 Windows Viewer so we could offer display viewer solutions for HTML5. Eventually it turned into much more than just a small and simple project. We noticed the HTML5 Viewer gaining popularity quickly, so we decided to develop it even further to make sure it’s totally future-proof. There are already quite a lot of platforms that already support the HTML5 Viewer, Samsung SSSP (TIZEN) and LG webOS to name a few.

Q: How is the PADS4 HTML5 Viewer used in combination with PADS4?

To make it a little bit more understandable, the HTML5 Viewer is actually a website. PADS4 simply hosts the website, and platforms like Samsung SSP and LG webOS can use this. It is also used quite often in combination with Android SoC’s, such as the Philips Q line, which makes the Viewer more like an interactive application. For example, this is what happens with meeting room solutions.

Q: What are the biggest advantages when using the PADS4 HTML5 Viewer?

Since the HTML5 Viewer is in fact a website, it can be used on everything that supports HTML5 websites. From Samsung SSP to Google Chrome, as long as your PADS4 Server is working, there is nothing else you need to install. If you simply add the correct viewer address for your browser, you will have a working HTML5 Viewer that can play any content you like. Another advantage is the great performance of the HTML5 Viewer. Since it’s optimized for relatively slow hardware, the performance on faster hardware only increases. The HTML5 Viewer uses the HTML5 Engine, which makes everything look just a bit better.

There is one small disadvantage, but it’s one also shows our power. Since it’s so accessible, we are not able to guarantee a perfect use of the HTML5 Viewer when it is used on non-supportive platforms. However, in cooperation with the manufacturer, we can always work out a solution.

Q: Could you name your 5 favorite applications of the PADS4 HTML5 Viewer? And why are these your favorites?
  • The possibility to manage and display content on multiple different screens. It’s as easy as can be to schedule a presentations that then plays on all connected screens.
  • I love the Android tablets that support our HTML5 Viewer. You can use a simple, and fairly cheap Giada Player and make any television screen look like a fully functioning digital signage screen.
  • Streaming RTP and UDP on SoC devices is definitely one of my favorites. You can watch a live football match, but also displays the power of PADS4 during breaks when you are planning commercials.
  • As said, the PADS4 HTML5 Viewer can also be used with meeting room solutions. It combines interactivity with NFC to make room reservations. Think of the combination with the ProDVX surround LED bar.
  • At the office, we use the option to make the HTML5 Viewer a widget on your dashboard. Here it is used to share information about our planning, but it can be used in many different ways.
Q: What do you think PADS4 will be like in the future?

In the future, PADS4 will be even more web based than it is now. We are working hard to build certain functionalities into HTML5 with our PADS4 CTRL Center and our HTML5 Viewer. This will make PADS4 even more accessible. It will support even more different platforms, and it will be usable in even more situations. I also think PADS4 will have more visible possibilities, virtual reality and augmented reality will become applicable within digital signage. Personally I would like to refresh the PADS4 GUI, where design and user experience are even more aligned, maybe even adding in some gamification. I think it would be great to make PADS4 easy to learn, but hard to master.

Thank you Frank for all this information on our PADS4 HTML5 Viewer. Next week we will wrap up our expert series with another interesting insider. Wondering about what all the experts that went before Frank had to say about PADS4? You can find all of them here.