Digital Signage Software
October 28, 2019 2:57 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for non-subscription-based digital signage software and/or software that may not be made for it, but would do the trick

I’ve been tasked with upgrading the display screen in the lobby of the company I work for. Currently, it’s an old CRT monitor in a kiosk connected to some kind of super old title-generating hardware box. We just use it to welcome visitors (by name) to the company. Our IT department suggested running the new system off of an Intel NUC. Intel has a page dedicated to using the NUC for this purpose with links to various software packages which all seem like they’d do what we want and more, but they all seem to be subscription-based. I’ve done lots of googling and have only found stuff that’s subscription-based.

So, I'm wondering if anyone knows of any non-subscription software for digital signage, or if anyone can suggest a way to “home-brew” something. It would need to be simple to use for various people who work at our front desk, allow me to setup templates so they could just plug in information, and ideally not require them to do anything other than save the file when they’re done (or export into a specific location).

I don't think we need to show videos or animations, but that could be a bonus.
posted by jonathanhughes to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I poked around for a bit for our library, most of the digital signage has gotten into the premium/cloud model$. A few 'free' solutions that were almost workable for me was 'screenly' (it has a free tier), 'magicmirror' (requires more fiddling to get just right) Ultimately, I chose to just build a webpage to cycle through content, with 'blocks' of information, with the main content being a google slide for ease of (end user) management.
posted by edman at 4:49 PM on October 28, 2019

On a previous job, we displayed content on signage by displaying a simple web browser in kiosk mode. At that point, any web publishing platform will do what you want--including potentially something you're already using in the company.

Or, what edman said.
posted by gimonca at 5:00 PM on October 28, 2019

This is what Raspberry Pis are for. A couple of the free signage systems are Screenly OSE and kweb. The latter's more of a kiosk browser, but it can be used to serve multiple pages in sequence.
posted by scruss at 5:53 PM on October 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

DAKBoard has a free tier that might work for you.
posted by MonsieurBon at 8:47 PM on October 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

We have Userful at our work place. It comes in standalone or cloud based. I understand that it comes with it's own hardware and is scaleable Here's a link.
posted by Zedcaster at 8:52 PM on October 28, 2019

I recently went to a library tech talk where one of the other participants was using Raspberry Pis and Binary Emotion's Digital Signage OS. It looked very nifty and if signage feel into my remit, I'd look into it. (I am, however, looking at their Kiosk OS for my OPAC replacement project.)
posted by halcyonday at 2:17 AM on October 29, 2019

Yep, there was a big inflection point a couple of years ago.

Big companies (like the gag-inducingly named Industry Weapon) jacked up their pricing, while inexpensive Raspberry Pi single-board computers, paired with free software, blew the bottom out of their pricing.

Several of the providers have both free and paid versions; some of them are for multiple displays across a campus while others are for a single, direct-connected display. The trade-off is usually whether it's pre-packaged or requires some set-up.

There are other projects like DAKBoard and MagicMirror, which are suited for hanging in your home -- but your use case they might be perfect. You could set up modules for day & date, weather, and the daily visitor calendar (or something) and turn it loose.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:53 AM on October 29, 2019

Also: take the money they are willing to spend on a NUC and instead buy a $39 Raspberry Pi 4, plus the paid license for one of these choices.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:54 AM on October 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

My office has in the past used Xibo which is free/open-source and has player clients for Windows, Android, Ubuntu and others. There are options for paid support and/or hosting, but this is not required if you install your own instance of the server. However, they seem to have changed their server model since the last time I used it; it now wants to be run as a Docker container (which requires non-free software) - manual setup is still possible with PHP/MySQL but is unsupported beyond a FAQ unless you pay. This is a shame because it used to be pretty good.
posted by CyberSlug Labs at 8:04 AM on October 29, 2019

Our lobby has a large-screen monitor mounted on the wall, with a small Windows PC behind it. It's wired-in to the network with a network cable. We connect-in using TightVNC. The messages are displayed using PowerPoint, with automatic (timed) transitions between the slides. I created a Windows Task that reboots the computer twice per day, because PowerPoint tends to freeze-up over time. It works well. But we don't update the presentation very often -- maybe once very two or three months. If this is something you'd need to update multiple times per day, then I'm not sure if it would work for you.
posted by JD Sockinger at 11:14 AM on October 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

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