Overview

    BigBlueButton 2.5 offers users improved usability, increased engagement, and more performance.

    • Usability - making common functions (such as raise hand) easier
    • Engagement - giving the instructor more ways to engage students
    • Performance - increasing overall performance and scalability

    Here’s a breakdown of what’s new in 2.5.

    Usability

    Screenshot of current slide with annotations

    To capture the current slide with annotations, you can now have BigBlueButton give you a PNG image of the current slide.

    Download Annotations

    Easier setup of breakout rooms

    Breakout rooms remember your previous rooms assignments within the current session. This lets you re-use the existing breakout rooms.

    Change time of breakout rooms

    You can now easily change the duration of a breakout rooms to a new time.

    Change time

    When you change the duration of breakout rooms, BigBlueButton will notify each breakout room in the public chat of the new duration.

    New duration

    Webcam pinning

    You can now pin a webcam so it always stays visible. This is useful if one on of the webcams is showing sign language, for example, and you always want it to be visible.

    Pin webcam

    Improvements to Guest Lobby

    Private guest lobby message, display position in waiting line

    Improvements to Endpoint API

    New endpoint

    A new API endpoint was added: /insertDocument. Now, it is possible to send a batch of documents with all the common presentation parameters such as current, downloadable and removable.

    All the presentations are sent via payload (the body of the request) such as when preuploading documents in /create endpoint, whether by a link to download the file or by base64 encoded file. See the API documentation for more information

    Engagement

    Text message broadcasting to breakout rooms

    You can now broadcast a text message to all breakout rooms. This message will appear in the public chat of each breakout room.

    Message breakout rooms

    Polling support for multiple answers per question

    Analytics

    Learning Analytics Dashboard improvements

    Newly introduced Timeline with slide thumbnails and improved display of user emoji timing.

    Performance

    Improved scaling of webcams and screenshare

    BigBlueButton now uses mediasoup (instead of Kurento) as its default WebRTC media server. You’ll find mediasoup able to handle more media streams (including screenshare) using less memory and CPU.

    For analysis on mediasoup vs. Kurento, see BigBlueButton World - BigBlueButton’s Media Stack and the Road Ahead. Note that Kurento is still installed on the system and still plays a role in the recording of media.

    Experimental

    Two-way microphone connections using Mediasoup

    FreeSWITCH is awesome, but it doesn’t support dual-stack IPV4 and IPV6 (we bridge this with nginx). It does not support trickle ICE for quick connections.

    The experimental microphone bridge introduced in 2.4 is moving towards feature complete in 2.5. Support for the following features are now in 2.5:

    • mediasoup now proxies audio connections for FreeSWITCH
    • Echo test
    • Input and output device switching
    • Audio filters

    For a list of pending issues for the experimental audio bridge to be considered production-grade, check this Depends on section in GitHub.

    Moreover, the steps for enabling this have changed slightly since 2.4. If you want to try this (keep in mind it is still experimental), you need to add the fullAudioEnabled: true flag in bbb-webrtc-sfu’s configuration (/etc/bigbluebutton/bbb-webrtc-sfu/production.yml).

    mkdir -p /etc/bigbluebutton/bbb-webrtc-sfu
    if ! grep -q "fullAudioEnabled: true" /etc/bigbluebutton/bbb-webrtc-sfu/production.yml; then echo "fullAudioEnabled: true" >> /etc/bigbluebutton/bbb-webrtc-sfu/production.yml; fi
    

    Once that flag is enabled in bbb-webrtc-sfu, there are two ways of opting in:

    1. Using API parameters you can have specific meetings use the experimental bridge by passing: CREATE parameter meta_fullaudio-bridge=fullaudio to override the default sipjs value

    2. You can change the defaults in the settings for bbb-html5 by adding the following to /etc/bigbluebutton/bbb-html5.yml (you will likely want to merge it carefully with your existing file):

      public:
        media:
          audio:
            defaultFullAudioBridge: fullaudio
    

    After a restart of BigBlueButton (sudo bbb-conf --restart), it should be ready to test. Reverting to the default options can be achieved by removing the override sections (and passed API parameters) and restart of BigBlueButton.

    Upgraded components

    Ubuntu 20.04

    Under the hood, BigBlueButton 2.5 installs on Ubuntu 20.04 64-bit, and the following key components have been upgraded

    • Tomcat 9
    • Java 11
    • Meteor 2.7.1
    • NodeJS 14.19.1 (for bbb-html5-*)
    • SBT 1.6.2
    • Grails 5.0.1
    • Gradle 7.3.1
    • Note that BigBlueButton 2.5 is the first iteration running on Ubuntu 20.04

    For full details on what is new in BigBlueButton 2.5, see the release notes. Recent releases:

    Installation

    For server requirements, BigBlueButton 2.5 needs similar minimum server requirements as 2.4.

    To install 2.5, use bbb-install-2.5.sh. For example, the following command installs BigBlueButton 2.5 using bbb.example.com as the hostname and notice@example.com as the email for Let’s Encrypt (you would substitute these values for your own hostname and email address). Notice the version is -v focal-250, which will install the latest officially published release (alpha/beta/etc) of BigBlueButton 2.5. If you instead use -v focal-25-dev, you will be installing/updating to the very latest build tracking the source code from branch v2.5.x-release.

    wget -qO- https://ubuntu.bigbluebutton.org/bbb-install-2.5.sh | bash -s -- -v focal-250 -s bbb.example.com -e notice@example.com  -a -w
    

    After installation finishes, you should see the following installed packages (your version numbers may be slightly different).

    # dpkg -l | grep bbb-
    
    ii  bbb-apps-akka              2.5           all          BigBlueButton Apps (Akka)
    ii  bbb-config                 1:2.5-9       amd64        BigBlueButton configuration utilities
    ii  bbb-demo                   1:2.5-2       amd64        BigBlueButton API demos
    ii  bbb-etherpad               1:2.5-3       amd64        The EtherPad Lite components for BigBlueButton
    ii  bbb-freeswitch-core        2:2.5-4       amd64        BigBlueButton build of FreeSWITCH
    ii  bbb-freeswitch-sounds      1:2.5-2       amd64        FreeSWITCH Sounds
    ii  bbb-fsesl-akka             2.5           all          BigBlueButton FS-ESL (Akka)
    ii  bbb-html5                  1:2.5-12      amd64        The HTML5 components for BigBlueButton
    ii  bbb-learning-dashboard     1:2.5-2       amd64        BigBlueButton bbb-learning-dashboard
    ii  bbb-libreoffice-docker     1:2.5-2       amd64        BigBlueButton setup for LibreOffice running in docker
    ii  bbb-mkclean                1:0.8.7-1     amd64        Clean and optimize Matroska and WebM files
    ii  bbb-pads                   1:2.5-2       amd64        BigBlueButton Pads
    ii  bbb-playback               1:2.5-2       amd64        BigBlueButton playback
    ii  bbb-playback-presentation  1:2.5-2       amd64        BigBluebutton playback of presentation
    ii  bbb-record-core            1:2.5-3       amd64        BigBlueButton record and playback
    ii  bbb-web                    1:2.5-6       amd64        BigBlueButton API
    ii  bbb-webrtc-sfu             1:2.5-6       amd64        BigBlueButton WebRTC SFU
    
    

    This installs the latest version of BigBlueButton 2.5 with Let’s encrypt certificate and the API demos. With the API demos installed, you can open https://<hostname>/ in a browser (where <hostname> is the hostname you specified in the bbb-install-2.5.sh command), enter your name, and click ‘Join’ to join ‘Demo Meeting’. For more information, see the bbb-install-2.5.sh documentation.

    We welcome feedback on our bigbluebutton-dev mailing list.

    Development

    For information on developing in BigBlueButton, see setting up a development environment for 2.5.

    The build scripts for packaging 2.5 (using fpm) are located in the GitHub repository here.

    Contribution

    We welcome contributors to BigBlueButton 2.5! The best ways to contribute at the current time are: