BigBlueButton is an open source web conferencing system for online learning.

    The goal of the project is to enable remote students to have a high-quality online learning experience. A key component of achieving this goal is giving the tools to engage remote students.

    This document gives you an overview of what’s new in BigBlueButton 2.0-beta (hereafter referred to as BigBlueButton 2.0).

    BigBlueButton 2.0

    We added three new features for increasing ease-of-use and user engagement:

    • Improved User Interface (easy-of-use)
    • Multi-user Whiteboard (engagement)
    • Shared Notes (engagement)

    Want to watch a quick overview video? We uploaded BigBlueButton 2.0 Overview to YouTube.

    Want to try the features outlined below? Visit our demo server at https://demo.bigbluebutton.org/.

    Want to setup your 2.0 server (or upgrade from the previous version)? See the instructions at Install BigBlueButton 2.0.

    Improved User Interface

    One measure of a successful user interface is how little effort it takes new users to master it.

    While we’ve spent years building and improving features in BigBlueButton, we had never really done a comprehensive review of the overall design. Until now.

    In BigBlueButton 2.0 we’ve re-designed the interface with an updated skin and icon set. The overall interface should look more coherent and consistent. Consistency means that there is a uniform design language through that enables users to anticipate (and intuit) how functions work.

    overview

    We’ve simplified the dialog boxes so they are easier to navigate. For example, the new join audio dialog box shows two large icons for easy choice.

    audio

    All icons are now rendered from vectors; they appear crisp even on the highest resolution monitors.

    For consistency, the actions for sharing audio, webcam, and desktop (when you are the presenter) are now grouped together at the top middle of the screen. The meeting title is on the left, and the record button is on the right.

    buttons

    We’ve simplified the layout of the Users list by removing the unneeded headers (it’s pretty obvious what the icons for headset and microphone mean).

    20-users

    In addition to improving the overall design, we’ve added a number of features that have been requested by our community (outlined below).

    Enable Presentation Download

    The presenter can now give students the ability to download a presentation.

    When uploading a presentation, the presenter can check “Enable download of presentation”.

    enable-download

    If this option is checked, a download button will appear for all users in the Presentation area.

    download-button

    Later on, when a user clicks the download button, BigBlueButton will display a dialog giving the user the ability to download any presentation that was enabled for download.

    download-dialog

    Smoothing of Pen Tool

    BigBlueButton smooths all strokes of the pen tool. When drawing with the pen you’ll see it work as before, but when you release the mouse, BigBlueButton will smooth the lines a bit.

    smooth

    This smoothing makes math equations and diagrams a bit easier to read for students.

    Promote Viewer to Moderator

    Moderators now have the ability to promote/demote any viewer to the role of moderator. To promote a viewer, click the gear icon to the right of a user’s name and choose “Promote”.

    user-promote

    Later on, any moderator can demote the same user back to a viewer by choosing the “Demote” option from the gear icon.

    user-demote

    Download Public Chat Messages

    In previous versions BigBlueButton enabled users to copy chat to the clipboard by right-clicking anywhere on the Chat area and selecting Copy All Text.

    In BigBlueButton 2.0, the Options tab now gives users a button for copying public chat messages to the clipboard (which makes the function more accessible for users with screen readers).

    chat-options

    Next to the copy button there are two others buttons

    1. Download the public chat as plain text
    2. Delete public chat (moderator only)

    End Meeting on Logout

    Ever wanted to end the meeting and kick out all users. Now, when anyone who is moderator logs out, they will have the option to immediately end the session.

    end-logout

    Selecting “Yes and end meeting” will cause BigBlueButton to immediately end the session, which in turn kicks out all other users and initiates the processing of the recording (if the meeting was set to be recorded).

    Full Screen Mode

    Users can now have BigBlueButton take the entire screen with the Full Screen button.

    full-screen

    Clicking this button causes BigBlueButton to take over the full screen (this invokes the browser’s built-in full screen capability).

    When users click the Full Screen button, the browser displays a confirmation dialog on the switch to full screen mode.

    full-screen-exit

    Users can exit full screen mode anytime by pressing the ESC key.

    Shared Notes

    Active learning is more effective than passively watching a lecture. Engaging students to recall and apply what they just learned re-enforces new concepts and ideas. Breakout rooms are an example of having students engage in discussion.

    BigBlueButton 2.0 adds a new layout called “Shared Notes”, which gives students a collaborative note pad capturing content during the session.

    Shared notes are visible by choosing the “Shared Notes” layout.

    shared-notes-create

    When choosing this layout, the Shared Notes window appears on the left-hand side. Any user can write/edit in the window at the same time.

    shared-notes-window

    Note: Shared notes are not saved as part of the recording. Think of them as a collaborative notepad during the live session.

    Any moderator can clear the shared notes using the “Clear this note” option in the gear icon (this icon is only visible to moderators).

    shared-notes-clear

    Multiple Shared Notes

    A moderator can launch (up to) two additional shared notes windows. Clicking this button opens a new window called “Shared Notes 2” and “Shared Notes 3” (you can name them whatever you wish).

    shared-notes-create

    When this option is selected, the moderator can name the new shared note window.

    shared-notes-create

    The two additional windows will be visible across layouts.

    Text Formatting

    The Shared Notes window allows users to apply formatting changes (font, font size, and style) to any of the text in the shared notes.

    shared-notes-format

    Download Shared Notes

    Users can also download the content of the shared notes as plain text or HTML.

    shared-notes-download

    The download option lets users save the shared notes for later use. As stated above, shared notes are not saved as part of the recording - they are cleared from memory when the meeting ends.

    Multi-user Whiteboard

    Another form of student engagement is getting user kinetically involved in the lecture. This is especially true of K12 students who may have a hard time sitting and watching a lecture without involvement.

    BigBlueButton 2.0 now supports multiple users updating the whiteboard in real-time. This enables a tutor, for example, to collaboratively work together with a student on a math problem.

    To enable/disable multi-user whiteboard, the presenter clicks the Multi-User Whiteboard button on the toolbar.

    mu-button

    When engaged, all users can annotate the current slide. The User’s names will appear to the right of their cursor.

    mu-over

    Users can only clear their own whiteboard marks (by clicking the ‘X’ button).

    If the presenter clicks the ‘X’ icon when multi-user whiteboard is turned off, BigBlueButton will clear all marks by all users.

    The recording format for BigBlueButton 2.0 is updated to record and playback all multi-user whiteboard annotations.

    Miscellaneous

    defaultMaxUsers

    In previous versions, the value for defaultMaxUsers in bigbluebutton.properites (located in /var/lib/tomcat7/webapps/bigbluebutton/WEB-INF/classes/bigbluebutton.propreties) was not used.

    # Default maximum number of users a meeting can have.
    # Current default is 0 (meeting doesn't have a user limit).
    defaultMaxUsers=0
    

    In BigBlueButton 2.0 the server will enforce the value and, if the maximum limit is reached, redirect the user to the following URL

       https://IP_or_HOSTNAME/?errors=[{"message":"The number of participants allowed for this meeting has been reached.","key":"maxParticipantsReached"}]
    

    A value of defaultMaxUsers=0 means the server will not enforce the limit.

    Refactoring of messages

    In BigBlueButton 2.0 we have refactored the messaging format used to communicate between the different server components and between the client and server. The goal of this was to streamline the creation and processing of messages which in previous versions required a lot of steps. The end result is a much easier system to work with that allows for quicker edits and additions.

    More efficient processing of recordings

    BigBlueButton 1.1, there was one thread that would archive all recordings, then process them, then publish them. If there were many recordings to process, they would all need to finish processing (which could take many hours) before any would publish.

    In BigBlueButton 2.0, the archive, process, and publish steps for creating a published recording now occur in parallel. This means there are three threads now, one for each step, and they execute in parallel.

    Branding

    We’ve made it easier to brand your BigBlueButton 2.0 client. You can now change the logo

    logo

    and copyright text

    logo

    by modifying the /var/www/bigbluebutton/client/conf/config.xml. To modify, edit this file and look for the XML tag branding.

    <branding logo="logo.swf" copyright="&#169; 2017 &lt;u&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;http://www.bigbluebutton.org&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot;&gt;http://www.bigbluebutton.org&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/u&gt; (build {0})" background="bbb_logo.png" toolbarColor="#F0F2F6" showQuote="true"/>
    

    You can change the parameters:

    • logo : The logo file name. It will be displayed in the higher left-hand corner. JPEG, PNG, BMP and SWF files are accepted. The recommended maximum height is 35 pixels. Default location is /var/www/bigbluebutton/client/logo.swf
    • copyright : The copyright mention that will be displayed in the lower left-hand corner of the footer. It accepts HTML but should be HTML-encoded. The {0} token will be replaced by the build number when the application is launched.
    • background : The background image name. It will be displayed behind the windows. JPEG, PNG, BMP and SWF files are accepted.
    • toolbarColor : The background colour of the top toolbar. Must be an hexadecimal value that starts with a #.
    • showQuote Show the initial quote on startup

    After changing, refresh the browser (no need to restart BigBlueButton) and you’ll see the changes take effect.

    Support for (up to) 8 breakout rooms

    The number of supported breakout rooms is increased from 5 to 8 rooms.

    mu-over

    Setting up a development environment for BigBlueButton 2.0.

    Here are the steps for setting up a development environment.