Desktop Sharing!


In some applications, there is a need to desktop/application sharing, whiteboard etc. Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 is a great solution for you in case you need Video Conferencing, Desktop/App. sharing, whiteboard and so on. Of course, only MSCS R2 Web Access which can be installed on a x64 OS is suitable for web-based desktop sharing.

Since MSCS is a sort of expensive server and it will make your customer to pay an arm and a leg to purchase required licenses, you may need a simpler and cheaper solution. For instance, in a web-based Learning Management System (LMS) application, there was a need to enabled desktop sharing for teachers. Only teachers would share their desktop and there was no mutual interaction  between the instructor and learners. As you may guess, the customer could not afford the cost of MSCS licenses.

To answer this need, I used Microsoft Media Services and Microsoft Media Encoder. Using these two services, the instructor was able to capture his/her computer’s screen and broadcast it over the network so that students could see what he/she was doing.

What you need:

1- Windows 2003 Server

2- Windows Media Encoder

3-Windows Media Player

To install Windows Meddia Services, on the computer which should be your streamign server, go to Control Panel -> Add Remover Programs -> Add/Remove Windows Component. Then at the buttom of  Windows Component Wizard dialogbox, check  Windows Media Services checkbox and click OK.

windows_media_srv

After installing Windows Media Services, you need to configure it. There are two things that should be configured:

  1. Authentication
  2. Protocol Control

Go to Administrative Tools ->Windows Media Services snap-in. Then click on the name of server computer and navigate to Properties tab. Find Authentication and open properties of each authentication method (if availible). Specify who can access this service and grant each user or group proper access rights.

authorization

Logically, students should have Read access but Teachers should have Create and Write access along with Read access because a teacher pushes the media content to media server.

At the next step you should enable control protocol and configure it. If your server is configured as a web server and has IIS installed, IIS is likely to occupy port 80. Therefore, you need to specify another open HTTP port thorough which Windows Media Encoder can push media content to server. If port 80 is used, WMS Http control protocol is disabled. right-click on it and choose Enabled item. Afterwards, open properties window and specify a new port number as shown in the picture bellow:

controlprotocol1

At this stage Windows Media Services is configured and ready to use.

On each instructor’s client computer, install Windows Media Encoder. To begin broadcasting, run it and from New Session window, go to Quick Starts tab and choose Broadcast Company meeting (then click next).

New Session Window

Then Windows Media Services Publishing Point window is appeared. In this window, enter server IP or name along with the Port number you specified in WMS Http Control Protocol window. You must also specify a name for your publishing point. For example, VisualC#1 !

Publishing point windowBy clicking on OK button, Windows Media Encoder begins and Properties window is seen. If not, click on “Properties” button on toolbar. In this place, for Video, choose Screeen Capture. You can click on Configure button and tell Windows Media Encoder how to capture your computer screen. Available options are: Entire Screen, Region or Window.

If you wish to broadcast your computer’s audio, enable Audio and select your preferred audio device.

Also, for “At End” option, choose “Stop”!

Properties window

At the next step go to Output tab, and uncheck these two options:

  1. Pull from encoder
  2. Archive file

Output

After doing this, go to Compression tab and from Destination drop-down, choose Windows Media Server option. Then from the Video drop-down control, select “Screen Capture (CBR)”. You can also change the Bit rate. The higher Bit tare meand the higher quality but slower transmition.

Compression

Ok! This process might be a little complicated and hard to memorise. No worries, go to File menue and save your configuration. You can provide your saved configuration file to your teachers and ask them to simply double-click on the file to begin recording (except they should change the name of publishing point)!

The Publishing Point name must be generated by your application and shown to the instructor to be used in Windows Media Encoder and also should be used in the client’s viewer for connecting to media server.

Clients can visit the streamed video by Windows Media Player. The protocol used for watching streamed videos is MMS, like http! for example , we may use mms://videoserver/myvideo

At the above address, Videoserver is server’s name and MyVideo is the publishing point name.

To create the client’s viewer we need to embed Windows Media Player ActiveX into our .aspx page. Visit this address to see how this is done:

http://www.mioplanet.com/rsc/embed_mediaplayer.htm

After embeding, URL parameter must be set properly. The best way is to write a function (with Internal access modifier) to generate the url and bind it to URL parameter:

<PARAM NAME=”URL” VALUE=”<%=GetMMSURL()%>”>

Each time the instructor begins broadcasting, students can open their viewing page and watch the deskop of their teacher! The teacher can display his/her desktop, open an application and show it (like in a Demo session) or open Microsoft Paint and use it as a white board!

The approach above is a one-way method unless you provide a facility for clients to send text messages to teacher and ask questions. However, for low incomers, this should be a reliving way of desktop viewing 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Desktop Sharing!

  1. Alic says:

    Great post! We use Office Communicator, but the absence of NetMeeting-like desktop sharing was crippling.

    Thanks Alic,
    Communicator also has desktop sharing for Windows but getting it to work at web is somehow difficult and costly.

  2. Yeah, tools like RHUB web conferencing servers enable people located at distant places to work on a single document or projects through application sharing, desktop sharing etc.

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