BigBlueButton 1.1-beta

    This document covers the new capabilities in BigBlueButton 1.1-beta:

    • Closed Captioning (see 2517
    • Breakout Rooms (see 1934)
    • Faster Desktop Sharing (see 3520)

    As with every release, we’ve refactored components to improve stability:

    • Updated Playback Layout (see 3521)

    We’ve added enhancements for developers/administrators as well, which include

    • updateRecordings API call (see API)
    • Ubuntu 16.04 (see 3118)

    In moving to Ubuntu 16.04 we rewrote the init.d scripts for BigBlueButton as systemd unit scripts. Also, the newer version of Ubuntu provides a much later version of libreoffice and ffmpeg, which means they no longer need to be manually installed. The new desktop sharing also doesn’t require opening port 9123 (it uses the existing port 1935 for RTMP).

    Welcome to BigBlueButton 1.1-beta. We hope you enjoy this release. If you have any feedback, please post to bigbluebutton-dev. To install see install BigBlueButton 1.1-beta.


    Closed Captioning

    BigBlueButton now supports live captioning during a session - a moderator (such as a stenographer) can enter captions for a selected language, and students can view the live captions for a language. The recordings will display the captions as subtitles.


    The moderator then selects a language to provide captions.


    And then clicks the first tab (it will have the name of the selected language).


    Next, the moderator clicks ‘Take Ownership’ (this ensures only one moderator at a time is entering captions for the given language).


    At this point, the moderator can begin typing text (or using a stenographer machine to inject text).


    Viewer Capabilities

    When a viewer (student) selects the Closed Captioning layout, The Closed Captioning dialog will display the active language streams.


    Clicking a language opens a new tab. Clicking on the first tab shows the live captions as they are typed.


    Viewing captions in Playback

    Later, when viewing the recording, the playback bar will have a ‘CC’ button. Clicking on the ‘CC’ button will show the available captions.

    Faster Desktop Sharing

    The presenter now launches desktop sharing outside the browser by opening a Java Network Launch Protocol (JNLP) file called screenshare.jnlp.

    Starting Desktop Sharing

    To start desktop sharing, the presenter clicks the desktop sharing icon in the toolbar.


    BigBlueButton client will display the Desktop Sharing Presenters Preview window (this will show the presenter a thumbnail view of their desktop sharing stream when desktop sharing starts).


    The window display a set of images that guide the user through starting the desktop sharing. These images are specific to the user’s OS + Browser.

    When the user clicks ‘Start’, BigBlueButton will download screenshare.jnlp. The file may be called screenshare(1).jnlp, screenshare(2).jnlp, etc. depending on previous downloads.

    Following the steps shown in the window, the instructor can opens screenshare.jnlp, which causes Java to launch and download and run BigBlueButton Screenshare. Java will display certificate confirmation dialog requesting permissions to run BigBlueButton Screenshare.


    Once running, the Desktop Sharing Presenters Preview window shows a thumbnail video of what students are currently seeing. This thumbnail is not resizable (students see the desktop in a resizable window).


    The presenter can pause/resume the desktop sharing stream. Clicking ‘Close’ will stop the desktop sharing.


    Sharing a Region

    On Windows and Linux, the presenter has the option of sharing a region. When choosing region, the presenter will see a dashed outline of the desktop sharing area when BigBlueButton Screenshare runs.


    Clicking ‘Start Sharing’ will start sharing the selected region. As with sharing full screen, a thumbnail version of what the remote students see will appear in the Screen Sharing Presenter’s Preview window.

    Due to the limitation of underlying components in the new screen sharing, there is no option on Mac OS X to share a region – it will only capture full-screen of the first monitor.

    Breakout Rooms

    Any moderator (usually the instructor) can now place students into breakout rooms, monitor their interaction, and end the breakout rooms at any time.

    Breakout rooms are full BigBlueButton sessions. The ability to record breakout rooms is under development. Each student in a breakout room has moderator role, which means any student can make themselves presenter and upload a presentation for sharing with other students.

    To start a breakout room, choose “Breakout Rooms …” from the gear icon.


    Configure Breakout Rooms

    When you choose “Breakout Rooms …” the following dialog box appears.


    The Breakout Room dialog enables the instructor to specify

    1. the number of breakout rooms: 2,3,4, or 5
    2. time limit
    3. enable/disable recording
    4. drag and drop users between rooms
    5. which users should not be placed into breakout room (the “Not Assigned” room)

    Student Joining a Breakout Room

    When the moderator presses the ‘Start’ button in the Breakout Room dialog, any user assigned to a breakout room will see the following dialog inviting them to join the breakout room.


    Clicking ‘Yes’ causes the breakout room session to open in a new tab. The user remains joined in the main session (where they can chat with the instructor and ask questions). BigBlueButton will disconnect drop them from the audio from the main room. This will prevent students from being joined into two different audio sessions at the same time.


    The breakout room will have a countdown timer about the chat to inform the users of the remaining time [1]. Once the timer reaches 0, the breakout room will automatically close.

    Users can return to the previous tab and rejoin the audio in the main room.

    Monitoring Breakout Rooms

    When the instructor clicks ‘Start’ in the Breakout Room dialog, a breakout room status table will appear in the Users window.


    The instructor can join the breakout room in a new tab [1], or join only the audio [2]. The instructor can also close the breakout rooms early (before the time remaining expires) [3].

    Updated Playback Layout

    The new playback layout provides an expandable list of thumbnails. The playback format also supports subtitles for sessions that had live closed captioning.


    Miscellaneous upates

    API Updates


    Param NameRequired / OptionalTypeDescription
    webcamsOnlyForModeratorOptionalBoolean Setting `webcamsOnlyForModerator=true` will cause all webcams shared by viewers during this meeting to only appear for moderators. This is useful when there is low bandwidth for remove students and they don't need to see each other's webcam.
    isBreakoutOptionalBoolean Setting `isBreakout=true` indicates that this is a breakout room. In a breakout room, the create Breakout Room button is disabled.


    With breakout rooms, getMeetingInfo will return additional information to let you determine which room is a breakout room.


    If a meeting is a breakout room, then getMeetingInfo will return a link to the parent meeting.



    We upgraded the version of FreeSWITCH to 1.6.15. This brings support for forward error correction (FEC) in WebRTC audio, which means viewers using Chrome (support for FEC is coming soon to FireFox) will have even better audio on wireless or low-bandwidth networks with packet loss.

    FreeSWITCH is a great open source project and the development team has done a solid job on creating an open source soft switch.


    This release builds upon red5 1.0.8-M13 which includes a number of bug fixes over the previous release we were using in BigBlueButton 1.0 (thanks to the red5 team for being so responsive to our requests).