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First Look: Wowza Streaming Engine 4

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The third section is a Status section, which provides status information regarding AddOns, CPU, memory, Wowza’s Java heap size, as well as total memory and disk capabilities on the server itself. A separate graph shows the number of simultaneous connections on a rolling time window.

9:06 AM: Time for our first test. In the old days, as in last week, the first thing you’d need to do before you launched a test was launch Wowza Media Server.

To do this, you had dig down to the Application folder and find the Wowza Startup link. But, before you could launch the server, you needed to use the WowzaMediaServer alias, which then linked to the actual server’s folders, and add in a number of hand-coded lines of code to launch services.

Today, you don’t need to do that. All you do is scroll to the lower part of the Manager dashboard and choose Test Players from the Test Video section. We’ll cover that more in a moment, but first let’s step back a bit.

What if you chose not to have Wowza Streaming Engine Manager startup after completing Wowza Config? If so, go to the Applications folder (on a Mac, or Program Files on a Windows machine). Find the folder labeled Wowza Streaming Engine 4.0.0 and double-click on it.

What you see -- or don’t see, as the case may be -- may surprise you. This folder contains fewer files than the one noted above for older versions of Wowza Media Server. In previous versions, you were presented with options like JConsole Startup, Wowza Shutdown, Wowza Startup, QUICKSTART.HTML, Read Me, and two legal documents. In the Wowza Streaming Engine 4.0 folder, users are presented with the only two choices that matter: a Read Me file and the Wowza Streaming Engine Manager application, plus a few folder aliases.

Only one of the two files clearly looks like an application icon, which means that first-time users intuitively know what to click. Launch the Wowza Streaming Engine Manager.url, and your browser of choice will pop up with a welcome screen, as we’ve noted above. It’s that simple.

Wowza says it supports all modern browsers, meaning the Manager can operate in Chrome, Firefox, the latest version of Internet Explorer, and Safari. Wowza recommends the Chrome browser, for a few reasons, but we ran tests in Internet Explorer on Windows 8.1 and Safari on OS X Mavericks, as well.

On the Mac, both Chrome and Safari took quite a bit of time (almost ten seconds) to bring up the dashboard after the log-in screen, but using Internet Explorer on Windows 8.1 was much faster.

Regardless of which you choose, when it’s time to launch your first streaming test, you’ll be pleasantly surprised: Wowza Streaming Engine Manager contains test players for a variety of media.

By default, at least on Internet Explorer, the first test player is RTMP, the Adobe protocol somewhat akin to the industry-standard RTSP.

Not every test player is supported on every browser. One issue we ran into, for instance, was attempting to play content in the test player using Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming (HLS). As you can see in the picture, HLS is not supported by default on Internet Explorer.

We also ran into trouble playing MPEG-DASH content, although there was a warning that we might “experience inconsistent playback using this third-party beta DASH test player.” In addition, Microsoft Smooth Streaming required a download of Silverlight on the Windows 8.1 machine.

The three Test Player options that seemed to work flawlessly on Windows 8.1 were RTMP, Adobe’s HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS), and the Mobile settings.

Mobile settings are cleverly split into two URLs, one for iOS devices and one for Android devices. When we entered the iOS URL into an iPod Touch on the same network, the stream started right up.

Conclusion. We put Wowza Streaming Engine through its paces on two test machines, viewing content on two mobile devices. We ran into several glitches with the pre-release bits that Wowza provided, and we will watch to see how those are corrected in the final release. Wowza has begun down the path towards a proper GUI and visual dashboard in a way that should make both power users and first-time streaming producers happy with the balance of power and ease-of-use.

We will follow up with additional details in the next few weeks as Wowza ships the final version of Wowza Streaming Engine 4.0.

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