BigBlueButton is an open source web conferencing system that enables real-time sharing of audio, video, slides, chat, and desktop sharing.

Story Behind BigBlueButton

We believe that every student with a web browser should have access to a high-quality on-line learning experience. We intend to make that possible with BigBlueButton.

Open Source

We built BigBlueButton on a full open-source stack. The key components are FreeSWITCH (for sending/receiving audio) and red5, an open source implementation of a RTMP server. The desktop sharing uses a Java applet for sending the presenter's desktop.

Creating a synchronous tool that enables real-time sharing of audio, video, slides, chat, and desktop is quite an undertaking. The project was started in 2008 and has a team of core developers steadily building, hardening, and integrating BigBlueButton with other applications.

We have released twelve versions of the project and it's localized into 35 languages. We use WebRTC for the audio (very high-quality audio for the student).

GigHacks

BigBlueButton's application desktop sharing currently uses Java. It works, but it (a) requires the presenter to run Java and (b) isn't fast enough for sharing graphic intensive applications.

We want to use WebRTC for high-quality desktop sharing.

This would achieve two goals

  • The presenter would not require any additional software (using FireFox or Chrome)
  • Students would get a higher-quality on-line learning experience (this is our mission)

We're working on an HTML5 client for BigBlueButton as well. With desktop sharing via WebRTC, viewers of the HTML5 client running on Android will be able to see the presenter's desktop.

List of the features of gigabit used

Desktop sharing takes a large amount of bandwidth -- especially as the screens get larger (hello 4K). With large numbers of students, the amount of bandwidth scales linearly.

Video

Here's a quick video we did of getting the WebRTC desktop sharing going through to the BigBlueButton client.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6i6DIQqRE-U

This will give all students a high-quality view of the presenter's desktop.

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