Web content

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Introduction

"Can web content be displayed by the player?" is definitely one of the frequently asked questions we receive. The answer would be yes, although it is not as straightforward, as it depends on the player model, plus "web content" can mean a lot of things, such as:

  • an image from a certain web page
  • a video from sites like YouTube, Vimeo etc.
  • an entire web page
  • some data from a social network site or web service

Furthermore, the players' rendering engine has been optimized for SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) content, which is generally better suited for displaying typical digital signage content than HTML is, and the player models before the HMP400 don't have a built-in web rendering engine.

Display media from a web page

If you want to display an image / video from a web page, you have two options:

Display web streaming content

Capturing and replaying video or streaming content from sites like YouTube and Vimeo, is normally prohibited (intellectual property rights, non-commercial usage, etc.) outside their website or apps.

Displaying video or streaming content from sites like YouTube and Vimeo, is possible on the HMP400 using the Web Page layer. This method doesn't work though for HMP350 and HMP300 models because the webkit process dealing with web content has limited resources allocated and lower priority - not enough for real-time rendering of that web page. A possible workaround is to download those video(s) locally (using browser add-ons, extension etc.) and then import the video into your Elementi project or upload it onto the player web interface.

Display a web page

Displaying web pages on a digital signage screen is usually not a good idea, because these are mainly designed to be opened and used interactively within a browser — the user will scroll and click within the content to get to the desired information, while in the case of digital signage screens, people are just passing by and usually don't have any way to interact with the screen. Furthermore, with public pages, there's no control on what the page content might actually be, nor on the server reliability.

But, can a web page be displayed by the player? Well, it depends on the player model.

SpinetiX players 4th generation.jpg
These players feature an HTML5 rendering engine, based on Chromium, with support for hardware accelerated video decoding and WebGL — most of the web pages can be displayed, including embedded video content.
This feature can be activated with a DSOS Kiosk or DSOS Systems license.
SpinetiX players HMP350 300.jpg
These players use a pseudo-HTML engine based on PhantomJS — only static and semi-static web pages can be displayed, while complex web pages would probably not work. Note that this HTML engine has been marked as deprecated since June 2021 (firmware 4.7.1) and may be removed in a future firmware version.
DiVA thumb.jpg
These players don't support displaying web pages.
SpinetiX players HMP200 130 100.jpg
These players don't support displaying web pages.
Note Notes:
  • The SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) content generated on SpinetiX platforms is generally better suited for displaying typical digital signage content than HTML is. Because of that, the players' rendering engine has been optimized for displaying SVG.
  • If the web page displays in Elementi, make sure to test it on the player as well because the player has limited resources comparing to the PC running Elementi. Video content is only supported on HMP400 and HMP400W.
  • Web pages requiring basic authentication can be displayed, if the proper credentials are added into Elementi / HMP, if the URL is not redirected to another page. This doesn't apply for frames embedded into the web page.
  • Web content can only be used on a single screen when creating a multiscreen project.

Display static HTML content

If you want to display a static HTML page (like simple presentational websites) the best is to use the original file from your design application (e.g., Illustrator, Photoshop) and export it to SVG or save the graphical assets as PNG / JPEG images.

Static content can also be displayed using the Web Page layer, available starting with Elementi 2015 for HMP300 and HMP350, respectively Elementi 2020 for HMP400.

An example of such static HTML page is this one: https://download.spinetix.com/content/elementi/weblayer/ .

Display semi-static HTML content

Add a Web Page layer

For semi-static websites, which combine HTML code, JS / CSS animations, and eventually simple Ajax calls, the solution is to use the Web Page layer, available starting with Elementi 2015 for HMP300 and HMP350 models, respectively Elementi 2020 for HMP400.

Display complex web content

Displaying highly dynamic websites, like those where all the content is generated through JavaScript, including the animations, through the Web Page layer should work on HMP400/W, but might not work on the HMP300 and HMP350, because of the limited support and resources required in the process.

Web Robot

Displaying protected web pages on digital signage screens usually requires connecting a USB keyboard and entering the credentials manually, which is not very practical. Fortunately, the HTML5 engine on the HMP400/W players features a Web Robot that can automatically fill up credentials and submit authentication forms on websites, meaning that such protected web pages can be displayed without needing a human intervention to handle the login part. This works only when the login process is relatively standard (i.e., a simple form with username/password input fields and a submit button) and the credentials are stored on the player under “Saved passwords” (respectively under “Network Credentials” in Elementi). Here is a summary of what happens in the background:

  1. The Web Robot checks whether a saved password exists for the web page to be displayed.
  2. If so, it tries to find a <form> field on that web page with at least one <input> field of type “password”, and a submit button (or similar element). It also tries to locate another <input> field before the password field that could credibly be of a username or email address; having a username field is however optional.
  3. Given these 2 or 3 HTML elements are found, the Web Robot fills the saved password in the field which is of type “password”, the username or email in the other field, and then it clicks on the submit button.
Note Notes:
  • If loading a web page triggers a redirect to another page that handles the authentication, when entering the credentials, the server URI must match the address of the authentication page. For instance, the target page might be a protected Power BI dashboard (https://app.powerbi.com/...), but you need to enter your Microsoft account credentials for https://login.microsoftonline.com/ instead, as that's where the sign in is actually handled.
  • The built-in Web Robot cannot handle a complex login process, like non-standard form fields, credentials that must be passed over multiple steps (like the login to Office 365), two-factor authentication, etc. In such cases, you can either enter the credentials manually using a USB keyboard or ask the SpinetiX Professional Services team to customize the Web Robot to pass the authentication (note that for two-factor authentication, human intervention is still required!), as well as to perform other actions like: navigate, scroll, zoom on the content of interest, and/or click through consent popups on HTML5 pages. If interested in this service, please contact your local SpinetiX Partner or SpinetiX for a quote.

PhantomJS

Note  
Applies to HMP350 and HMP300.

The HTML engine on HMP350 and HMP300 players is based on PhantomJS, a JavaScript library supporting the most common HTML5 features.

  • An extensive list of supported HTML5 features when rendering a web page can be found in this screenshot. Be aware that this is only the result of the web page rendering test, the HMP350/HMP300 fully support natively all SVG rendering features, including video and audio using media layers.
  • Phantom.js 2.1.1 version is used starting with firmware 4.1.x and Elementi 2016. Phantom.js 1.9.8 version is used within firmware 4.0.x and Elementi 2015.
  • The rendering speed of the web page is approximately the same as for an iPhone 4.
Note Warning:
As of firmware 4.7.1, the pseudo-HTML engine is deprecated and may be removed in a future firmware version for these devices. See SpinetiX-SA-21:01 security advisory for more details.

Display data from a web service

If you want to display data from social networks, web services, APIs or similar sources, you can use the data feed feature - the HMP can connect to most data sources from the web using the data-driven widgets from Elementi.

You might want to check these tutorials as well:

Display data from a web page

If you want to display data some data from a web page and the data you are looking for is included into the page as pure text (and not generated upon rendering), you can use the data feed widgets from Elementi (or write some jSignage / JavaScript code if page is more complex) to retrieve the text content of the entire page, parse it (i.e. remove all the HTML tags and keep only the needed information) and display the results on the screen. The HTML table widget is an example of such customization of the existing data feed widgets.

This page was last modified on 23 January 2023, at 13:54.