Bringing convenience to stream testing

Getting the video stream right: Make the playback adapt optimally to different uncontrollable network conditions. Protect it with DRM, enhance it with subtitles and different audio languages. Observe live latency and timeshift window length. Verify that the audio and video codecs are compatible with every client environment. And most importantly: Ensure it is error free, consistent, and the expected content appears from the encoded bits and bytes.
Tor Erik Alræk

In Vimond, we have been assisting our customers on verifying stream setups, testing playback, and troubleshooting streams for 10 years, contributing to high-quality, well-functioning catalogs of streaming content in their online video services. One essential part of this task is simply getting the stream to play, observing how it performs, and checking for errors. Rinse and repeat, until the stream satisfies the requirements. 

What is then the right tool for this job?

Good tools are half the work. They should be ergonomic, fit the usage and its user, and reduce wear and tear imposed by doing the same task over and over again. For professional needs they should provide the right amount of power.

Streamlab: The dedicated stream test tool

With these criteria, Vimond engineers have seen the need for creating a dedicated web app fulfilling the day-to-day needs. Making it easy to start, troubleshoot, and inspect streams with advanced features, doing it over and over again until the stream is verified to be optimal and error free. 

We have chosen to share this tool not only with our customers, but also with the whole community of streaming professionals.

So here is Streamlab.

This web app offers one consistent and convenient user interface for testing all kinds of online video. It builds upon several state-of-the-art implementations of adaptive streaming in web browsers, and supports playback of MPEG-DASH through Shaka Player, HLS through HLS.js, and smooth streaming through RxPlayer. Of course it also plays whatever the HTML <video> element supports natively in different browsers.

Features

Fill in stream URLs and configure playback, and the setup will be persisted between browser sessions (and closed/reopened tabs). All playback attempts are added to a history, and earlier stream URLs and other details can be restored and retried. The full setup can be shared in a link for others to try out.

Streamlab displays context-aware messages with guidance on technical stream details, and attempts to bring error details up to the surface when the stream doesn't play. Reveal even more technical stream details by turning on debugging to the browser console.

All modern browsers are supported. Streamlab facilitates testing of live/DVR streams, DRM, subtitles, multiple audio tracks, thanks to the features of the adaptive player libraries' mentioned above. 

Go try it out with an example stream or any stream you prefer. The project is open source and in its first public release represents a starting point for many possible enhancements and extensions to analysis, inspection, troubleshooting.

Powered by Replay

The central component of the Streamlab web app is Replay, yet another open source initiative from Vimond.

Replay is a player component for the React web app development ecosystem. With this project, Vimond developers share 20 years of experience with building video players to be embedded into web pages. Furthermore, this is also about bringing convenience to another group of tech people working with online video solutions, namely web developers.

It takes away the complexity of integrating the earlier mentioned adaptive streaming player libraries into React applications, so that HLS, CMAF, MPEG-DASH, or progressive videos can be played just by inserting two React elements. It provides a rich, extendable, and consistent user interface and API on top of the libraries. It facilitates professional grade streaming functionality with very little code. It fully embraces React principles, and is designed with performance in mind.

Contributing back to the community

At the core of Vimond’s foundation, and our customers’ businesses, is playing online video streams. This is a complex technology field on its own, in an infrastructure spanning from production, encoding, and packaging, out to all users’ devices. The essence is to deliver a stellar experience to the public, centered within and around the video content itself.

Here, the industry has moved together with great progress, creating standards and a wide range of open and free tools. Vimond people want to join in on this effort. Hopefully, our contributions can reduce the complexity for online video professionals in yet some specialised niches.

Learn more about the Vimond products