Frequently Asked Questions about Spreed Web Conferencing Systems

Table of Contents

  1. Connection Management
  2. Diversity of Support
  3. Trainee Management
  4. Text Chat
  5. Client-side Technical Requirements
  6. General User Interface
  7. Content
  8. AV Support
  9. Whiteboard
  10. Application and Screen Sharing
  11. Remote Control
  12. Synchronized Web Surfing
  13. Breakout Rooms
  14. Polling & Assessment
  15. Recording/Broadcasting Features
  16. Security
  17. Integration
  18. Architecture
Question Answer

Connection Management

Up to how many trainees can each video conference session accommodate with no loss in quality? The maximum number of trainees depend on Spreed meeting type. Normal meetings with audio and video for EACH participant, i.e. any trainee can hear and see the other trainees, the maximum number of trainees is limited to 42 trainers.

With the E-learning meeting type, each trainee can hear and see the trainer(s) and hear the other trainees. E-learning meetings are currently limited to 60 participants. Instant and broadcast meetings transmit audio and video from one or more trainers to all participants.

Participants can give feedback by chat. The number of participants with speed Instant and Spreed Broadcast meetings is virtually unlimited. The max. number only depends on the number of Spreed servers and available Internet bandwidth.
Is there an automatic reconnection to the video conference session (without loss of content or disruption of services) if a short connection outage occurs? Yes. Lost connection are automatically re-established for short (less then 30 seconds) connection losses. If the connection is lost for more than 30 seconds, the meeting participant can manually re-establish the dropped connection.
Are Video, Audio, Slides and whiteboard content always in sync? Yes. Content is always in sync under the assumption that  the available Internet bandwidth is sufficient for all participants. Documents which are presented can only be out of sync in case that the Internet connection is lost. Slides, audio and video are automatically synchronized after a connection loss. Changing slides is instantaneous and requires a minimum bandwidth of few hundred bits per second.
Is there support for non-broadband trainees? Is there automatic compensation in quality for such trainees? Yes, the video resolution and bandwidth will be reduced for slow connections
Is it possible to configure the product to run in 'lite' mode (limited features - for eg, no AV, only text chat)? Yes. Profiles and custom layouts can be configured server-side.


Diversity of Support

Can non-Windows clients can simultaneously participate in the same session (no loss of quality or features)? Windows, Linux and OS X clients are supported. Screen sharing of OS X applications is currently available in a pre-release for selected customers only.
Can Firefox/Safari/Opera clients simultaneously participate in the same session (no loss of quality or features)? Yes, full support for IE, Firefox, Safari and Opera.
Please list all languages supported? English, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Frensh, Swedish, Czech. Languages soon available: Portuguese


Trainee Management

Do activity lights indicate the activity being undertaken by the trainee (chatting, raising hands, using whiteboard, sharing screen, etc)? Activity lights indicate which person is speaking (can be multiple persons simultaneously). Spreed has full-duplex audio and independent audio channels for each trainer/presenter/moderator.
Can all questions asked by raising-hands be saved or exported for future reference or FAQ development? Chat can be exported and saved as text file.
Are IM features like "away mode", etc. available? Yes. "On line", "Away" and "Busy" are available.


Text Chat

Does the chat feature allow public and private text messages between participants? Yes. Can be disabled for a given meeting type.
Are text chat messages visible in real-time and are they color-coded? Yes. Text chat messages are visible in real time and color coded.
Is the complete history of text messages received always visible? Yes. Maximum 1000 lines of chat (limit server side configurable).
Can message history can be exported/saved as a text file? Yes, text file.
Is the use of text chat controlled or moderated by the trainer? Yes. The trainer switches on text chat for participants.


Client-side Technical Requirements

Do clients have to download/install any application/applet/control? Spreed is a Web 2.0 application. Spreed runs entirely within the web browser. A download is not required to participate a web meeting. Screen and application sharing on the presenters side requires just starting an application (presenter only).
Please describe firewall-related implications in detail? What ports are operated on? What protocols are used? Please refer to the Spreed technical paper and network diagram


General User Interface

Do all participants in the session always see the 'same screen'? The usability of the user interfaces are optimized for the use, e.g. e-learning, presentations, webinars. Trainees and trainers usually have a different screen layout. Furthermore the screen layout and look/and/feel can be configured on the Spreed server.
Is there any 'preparation mode' available which allows trainers to perform actions that trainees can't see? Yes. Sessions have a "paused" and "started" state. Trainers can easily prepare sessions before the sessions are actually held.
Are portions of the screens resizable? If yes, who controls resizability? The layout is flexible and fully resizable. The Spreed user interface is fully scalable and resizable by every single participant.
Is there any additional download/plug-in required for applications like whiteboard, app sharing, screen sharing? If yes, please describe. Spreed runs entirely within the web browser. A Flash-enabled browser is required for basic operation. Screen/application sharing needs an application that can be downloaded when screen sharing is started within a session.
Please elaborate on the size of downloads and the nature of the objects being downloaded (what they are and what they do). Spreed screen sharing is a single file with file size less than 500 KByte.
What are the screen resolution requirements for trainees and trainer? Does the UI scale automatically if someone with a lower screen resolution logs in? 1024x768 yes. 800x800 yes. Fully scalable. 640x480 should be considered as the minimum resolution.
Can the UI and its components (whiteboard, for example) access the system clipboard? Yes. Text can be pasted from the Clipboard to the Spreed application.
Are branding elements of the UI configurable? Can the licensee logo be inserted? Can the vendor logo be moved/removed? Yes. Text can be pasted from the Clipboard to the Spreed application.


Content

Is direct support for all MS Office files available? Yes. MS Office, OpenOffice and PDF. In addition most graphic formats (JPEG, PNG, GIF, JPEG2000, TIFF, etc.) and most video and audio formats, e.g. Quicktime, Podcast, MP3, AVI, FLV can be presented.
Can participants collaborate on a live document? Edit a document/spreadsheet for example? Or can the content only be displayed? Using the whiteboard, all participants with presenter rights can collaborate. With desktop remote control two participants can simultaneously collaborate on a live desktop application with the other participants as viewers.
Is direct support for all PDF available? Yes, excellent support. PDF can be presented in high-quality scalable vector format. PDFs can be annotated with the whiteboard and downloaded as annotated PDF. Any document and graphic file can be rendered as PDF document for download.
Can the trainer restrict navigation of slides to control the navigation through a presentation? The Trainer(s) can restrict navigation and access in the presentation area.
How does audio/video presentation work? What AV file formats can be played back in the content area (Flash, Quicktime, Mpg, etc.)? Spreed offers full support of time-synchronized real-time play-back of most video and audio formats: MPEG-1/2/4, Quicktime, many AVI, Pod casts, AppleTV video, FLV (Flash video), MP3-Audio. The files must be uploaded to can be presented.
Is presentation content protected so trainees cannot save or print it? Printing and saving of documents can be restricted.
Can trainees screen capture images from their desktops to create content? Yes. Screen captures (and taking photos of the participants screen) are not protected.
Is there a need to distribute content before session or is the distribution of content optimized enough to not need pre-distribution? No preparation required for distributing content. Content is real-time and can be presented on-the-fly.
Can content be easily loaded on the fly during a session? Yes.
Can trainees upload content from their side? Depending on the trainee rights content can be uploaded by trainees during the session.
What markup and annotation tools are available? Spreed Whiteboard. The Spreed Whiteboard creates PDF annotations. PDF documents can be easily exported.
Can a content library be maintained? Yes, the content library is account or session based.
Can trainees search for content? Yes, within archived sessions (e.g. google search).


AV Support

Can both trainees and trainers broadcast web cam video? Yes.
How many participants can broadcast web cam video at the same time? How does it affect bandwidth of the entire network? By default 15 participants can simultaneously share audio and video. Up to 42 participants can held a many-to-many meeting. Up to 15 participants can share video and audio and another 37 participants in the many-to-many meeting can share audio. All participants can simultaneously talk and hear other participants. Spreed provide a real full-duplex communication for all participants (up to 42) within a meeting. The bandwidth required for each trainee increases linear with the number of participants and with the video resolution set. All limits can be defined server side.
What resolutions does the AV stream support? Available video resolutions, frame-rates, video formats and bandwidths can be defined server-side (Spreed server configuration). By default Spreed offers 16:10 video format at 15fps. Video resolution of 206x116 and 412x232 are set by default.
Can the trainer adjust specs of the AV stream? If no, are the specs configurable in the server software? If yes, in what manner & with what options (both in A & V)? The trainer and trainee can choose between the resolutions and frame rates which are set on the server.
Is there automatic buffering and dynamically accelerated playback of the AV stream to compensate for Internet delays and maintains all participants in real-time? Yes. A streaming server delivers synchronized audio and video to all participants.
Does Audio/Video transmission require any additional plug-in or download? No.
Can the trainer know when the trainee's AV levels are lagging due to a bad connection? No. The Spreed system knows the quality of each connection. Statistics can be generated by the system.
Is there a plug-in with a standards-based teleconference system available? Spreed has full PSTN support. No additional plug-in is required.


Whiteboard

Is there any limit on the number of people using the whiteboard simultaneously? No.
Is the whiteboard scalable? If yes, by whom? Yes. By any participant with moderator rights.
Is the whiteboard object-oriented (drawn objects can be selected, moved, edited, grouped, aligned, resized)? Yes.
Can content on the whiteboard be layered (identified as background/uneditable)? Yes. Document layer and whiteboard layer. Layer can be switched on and off. Any number of pages.
Is the whiteboard content exportable or save-able directly to client machine? What are the rights required to do so? Yes. Whiteboard content can be saved and exported as annotated PDF documents.
Are whiteboards persistent? (Moving between whiteboard screens does not remove any changes made to previous screens). Yes.
Can whiteboard content can be marked as secure/proprietary to prevent saving or printing by participants? Yes. Feature optionally available.


Application and Screen Sharing

Who can share? Trainee, Trainer or both? Both, depending on settings. In general any participant with presenter rights.
Can the participant share the entire desktop? Or a region of the desktop ONLY? Or both? Entire desktop and specific application windows. Application sharing can be limited to a given set of applications (server-side configuration or LDAP).
Can the participant share an individual application ONLY? Yes. The applications which shared by a presenter can be limited to a set of known and defined applications. The set of known application can be defined using LDAP or an server-side XML configuration.
Can the participant share a high-resolution application and using web cam broadcast at the same time with no performance impact (assuming bandwidth available)? Yes. A special high-resolution/high color-depth mode for medical imaging is optionally available.
Can participant-scalable application sharing automatically adjusts to everyone's screen resolution? Yes.
Does the application sharing require any additional plug-in or download? Screen sharing does not require software for participants. Presenting a desktop or an application requires to start an application which is available on the Spreed desktop.


Remote Control

Who can grant access? Trainee, Trainer or both? Presenters and moderators. Participants with presenter rights.
Can the host grant access to the entire machine? Or a specific application? Or Both? The host can grant remote access to the entire machine.
Can the host take back control with some Hot Keys? Yes. Hitting the ESC key stops remote control.
Does the remote control session work side by side with web cam broadcast with no performance impact? Yes.
Can participant-scalable remote control automatically adjust to everyone's screen resolution? Yes.


Synchronized Web Surfing

Can the trainer take participants to a website? If yes, does the site load on the trainees' desktops or as a trainer screen broadcast? Yes the trainer can take participants to a website. The website loads on the trainees' desktops.
Can the trainer use the Web as a presentation tool and automatically take the participants along for the ride? Yes.
Is each trainee session disparate and different from other sessions? Yes.


Breakout Rooms

Can a private session run in a breakout room - with private content, chat, whiteboard, etc.? Yes.
Is there a limit on the number of breakout rooms possible? Max. 1000 rooms per server.
Can trainer easily jump from room to room? Yes. The trainer can be present simultaneously in multiple rooms.
Can trainer easily move content from room to room? No. This feature can be offered depending on custom needs.
Can breakout rooms be created on the fly or in advance? Yes.
Do multiple rooms have any impact on overall network bandwidth? No.


Polling & Assessment

Is it possible to create a quick on-the-fly yes/no poll? Yes.
Is it possible to create a quick on-the-fly MCQ? Yes.
Can the poll or MCQ result be displayed in graphical format? Yes.
Can the results be made public or private? Yes.
Is there a dedicated quiz/survey/assessment tool? No.
Can the quiz/survey/assessment be pre-defined and saved in a library? Yes.
Can questions be added to the quiz/survey/assessment on the fly? Yes.
What question formats (MCQs, True/False, Yes/No) are supported in the quiz/survey/assessment? There are supported the question formats MCQs, True/False, Yes/No. You can define all answers yourself.
Can the results of the quiz/survey/assessment be graded and viewed immediately by the trainer? Yes.


Recording/Broadcasting Features

Can all content and interaction during a session be recorded? Yes.
Can the trainer turn the recording on and off within a single session to record selected parts of the session? Yes. On/Off available.
How are the recordings made available for future viewing? Who can view these recordings? Are the recordings streamable or downloadable or both? Recordings can be played back live, i.e. streaming. Furthermore you can publish a meeting with its recordings. In addition audio-recordings are available for download. Video-recordings will be made available for download soon.
In what format does the recording take place? Does it get recorded in a single file? What is the typical recording file size for, say, a 5-hour full blown session? The video size and the number of video and audio streams (can be more then one) determines recording size. The recording size of a typical 5 hour session with one trainee with video/audio is between 200 and 400 MByte
Can the recordings be edited? Video and/or audio editing is supported for Quicktime and Podcast exports. Tools like iMovie can be used for editing off line.
Is there a feature to broadcast the recordings only? To async "receive-only" trainees or those who missed the session? Both.


Security

Is there support for HTTPS or SSL Encryption? If yes, what kind of overhead does it put on the server resources and network bandwidth? Yes. HTTPS and SSL are available. The HTTPS/SSL encryption limits the number of simultaneous trainees to 200-1000 trainees per server depending on the server hardware.
How are user passwords created? Are password configurations customizable? Users create their passwords. The password quality is checked.
Can sessions be locked, preventing others from joining? Yes.
Can trainers throw-out/remove trainees from a session? Yes.
Is there support for HTTP tunneling? Yes.
Is all content (AV, text messages, whiteboard data) encoded between client and server machines? Yes.
Can the server software be hosted behind a firewall? If yes, what are the implications? Yes. The Spreed server software and appliance comes with a build-in firewall.
What authentication models (RADIUS, LDAP, Kerberos, etc.) are supported? LDAP, TLS, Kerberos.
Is there a feature allowing "guests" to enter sessions? Yes.


Integration

From the architecture point of view, does the product allow for any interface/integration with any other system? Or is designed to be a stand-alone application? Spreed is designed as an integrated application. Spreed can be easily embedded within web pages and other systems. Spreed has a extremely powerful remote control interface (Spreed  Remote Control).
Does the vendor provide any SDK or API to enable integration with other applications (like LMS, for example)? SDK available. Web service integration available. XML-RPC interface.
Does the vendor provide any integration services? If yes, are there any known case studies/success stories of integration? Yes. Spreed has been successfully integrated into existing portals by social networks, e-learning companies, telecommunication companies and Internet Service Provider (ISPs).
Is there any SIP support for AV communications? Yes. SIP and IAX2 (Asterisk).
Is there any integration possible with a 3rd party scheduling/calendaring system to enable automatic/rapid creation/scheduling of sessions? Yes. MS Outlook and Zarafa and other integrations are still available.
Is there any integration available with MS Exchange/Outlook? Yes. Spreed Meetings can be created and scheduled directly from within Outlook (with a plugin available from  zarafa.com). Spreed Web Meetings are created like a normal meeting scheduled with Outlook calendaring. By  double-clicking on the meeting entry the Spreed meeting room is entered.
Is there any integration possible with a 3rd party registration system to enable automatic/rapid creation of trainee accounts/invites? Yes. Spreed remote control interface.
Is there any integration possible with a 3rd party assessment system to delivery assessments and capture responses for grading/scoring? Through Spreed remote control.
Is there any integration possible with a 3rd party attendance system to automatically track participation of trainees? Yes. By using the build-in web interface or Spreed Remote Control.
Is there any integration possible with a 3rd party archival system to enable automatic/rapid creation/playback of archived sessions? Yes.


Architecture

PLEASE REFER TO THE Spreed ARCHITECTURE OVERVIEW AVAILABLE FROM OUR SALES TEAM
What are the recommended server specifications? The Spreed web conferencing server is available as Virtuozzo virtual appliance, as software installation and as server appliances. Spreed server virtual appliances take use of the following configurations:

Software
environment:
  • SWsoft Virtuozzo, 1VE
  • Operating systems:
    • CentOS 3.x, 4.x
    • Red Hat Fedora Core 1, 2, 4
    • Red Hat 9 Red Hat Enterprise 3, 4
    • SuSE Enterprise Server 9
Hardware:
  • 2 or 4 CPU, 64-Bit, 2+ GHz Intel Core2Duo/XEON or AMD Opteron
  • 4/8/16 GB RAM depending on usage
  • IP bandwidth from 10 MBit/s up to 4 GBit/s per server (depending on usage)
  • 200 GB HD (RAID-5)
  • Optional: IPSec/SSL/TLS protocol accelerator (PCI-X adaptor)
Is there any support for NLB or clustering or distributed server architecture? Yes. Spreed servers are built to be load balanced and cascaded with Spreed streaming concentrators.
Is there any support for Multicast? Yes, Spreed servers communicate with Spreed servers using a Reliable Datagram Protocol (SRDP - Spreed reliable datagram protocol). The SRDP server-to-server communication protocol can be a multicast protocol and/or peer-to-peer. The number of Spreed servers and streaming concentrators on a network (Spreed peers) is virtually unlimited.
Is there any support for distribution of CDNs? Yes.
Is there any server redundancy support? Yes, hot fail-over is optionally available. When a Spreed server fails or a network connection is interrupted, other Spreed servers will take over the running session within few seconds. With hot fail-over running sessions will be interrupted less then a few seconds in case of fail-over.
From the design point of view, what does the return path from the trainee to the trainer look like? How does it work? Technically spoken, Spreed is not client-side peer-to-peer. Trainers and trainees do not communicate directly to each other through the network. All network communication is routed through the Spreed server. However, multiple Spreed servers are communicating peer-to-peer using its proprietary high-efficient SRDP (Spreed Reliable Datagram Protocol).