I’ve been enjoying a lot of the new programming that has been shared recently on our NEW old radio friend, ds106rad.io … This evening I’m hearing yet another wonderful episode of the CBC radio theatre series Nightfall that Grant Potter has programmed into the new Airtime station management software. (Now playing, The Chrysalids, earlier this evening, Wildcats. Wonderful!)
To help keep track of what is happening where (broadcasts on the new server versus the old server, currently playing data, etc.), I’ve been poking around with a few of the disparate bits that help out with the original ds106radio, the NEW Old ds106rad.io, and with the soon-to-be-1-year-old self-proclaimed sibling, 105theHive.org.
Providing easy and accessible support for as many possible listeners (and especially folks who may be new to custom streaming audio) requires working with a number of different technologies.
However, during the transition, some of the old pipes and some of the new pipes need some of those special-made-to-order copper-to-pvc fittings. I’ve had my monkey wrench out a bit. This post will focus on the first of three components, detailing a number of different player options for listening.
I’m hoping to move on tomorrow onto keeping track of what’s on the air (the metadata, and notifications that help you to know when someone goes live), and then, if necessary, options for broadcasting, although nothing critical has changed there recently other than the server connection details. The new programming software, however, and what can be done with it, will be some new learning for later. (Grant tweeted recently that he’s looking for some assistant station managers to help feed the new Otto!)
iOS and Safari, in-browser player
The following HTML5 native tag player works in-browsers on iOS devices and Safari browser.
If you open other pages or navigate to other pages using open tabs, the stream will continue. But if you close the web-page or tab, the stream will stop, and you’ll have to re-open the page and press play again.
On Safari, the player provides a volume control slider (click on the speaker icon to access a vertical slider). On iOS, the AirPlay icon shows in the player bar and provides the option to direct the audio stream to remote AirPlay speakers (if you are attached to a WiFi network). On iOS, you control the volume with your iDevice volume buttons.
This functionality is provided on my WordPress sites using the native HTML5
However, this HTML5 option fails on both Chrome and Firefox browsers, regardless of operating system, as not all browsers support the same audio codecs.
The following player will work in-browser on Safari, Chrome, and Firefox, but requires Flash, which puts it out of the running on iOS, or whenever a new Flash-bug prompts a required update to Flash. Like a few days back!!
This player also provides a volume control (which can be pre-set as part of the coding, on 105theHive.org, I have the pre-set volume at 10%, so that the station welcome bumper doesn’t blare out from multiple netbooks almost simultaneously, as students load the player), and can be most easily implemented via simple HTML embed code which is generated on an online website.
However, as noted previously, with Flash comes the need for continued updates to address security loopholes that are discovered on an ongoing basis, and potential issues with Flash caching and memory use.
The Quick Path
So, in seeking the easiest quick-path to new-listener connection, my plan is to use a bit of php coding and not-really-preferred-but-at-this-point-necessary feature/browser/OS detection to selectively feed out either
- the HTML5 audio player for iOS web browsers,
- or the Flash-plugin player for other web browsers.
I could go with HTML5 for the desktop AND mobile Safari, but I think instead I’ll keep the desktops flash based. If you have thoughts on this, please let me know.
In the interim, you may wish to check out and bookmark ds106radio Can You Hear Me Now? page, which reflects the current implementation of the results of my ongoing investigation. Eventually, regardless of your platform, my goal is that you will see ONE functional browser-based player. In the interim, users on desktop Safari will see two functional players, and everyone else should have one functional player.
Despite my continued efforts (and those of Grant Potter), I’ve not yet found a functional .m3u streaming audio plug-in or code that sucessfully employs HTML5 with Flash Fall-back. I’ve tried a number that purport to offer this functionality, but no luck as of yet. So the plan right now is to use these two players above and just serve up one or the other, based on your device/browser
Other Listening Options
Seasoned listeners to ds106radio will likely have one, several, or all of the following in place:
- bookmarks to the station in their computer iTunes or VLC players,
- FStream installed on their iOS device
- have a bookmark to the Icecast 2 status page to monitor the status of the stream (This page includes links to the .m3u and .xspf playlist files which will play in a configured audio application (iTunes, VLC), or which while open in Safari via Quicktime under iOS. (At the time of writing, there is a meta-data disconnect between the Airtime server and the status page, so the data may not always be up to date, although the playlist links will still work. That’s part of the transition still in progress.)
In the interests of providing folks with a variety of options for listening, I have documented a good number of players for various devices on the http://105thehive.org/listen/listening-details/ page. Aside from the difference in streaming URL, these work identically for ds106rad.io. Please let me know if you have other favourite players that work, so that we can provide folks with good direction on how they might best listen and stay connected to the ds106rad.io community.
I’ll hear you on the radio!! #4life