Data feed management for digital signage applications

How to integrate data feed into your content to improve its appeal

Want to improve your digital signage content’s appeal? Look no further than data feeds. Live and constantly updated data is the simplest and most effective way to attract and retail the viewer’s attention. QL’s Template and Ticker designer apps let you integrate any type of data into your template layouts. Display real-time content such as news, weather information, sports scores and business dashboards. You can even create digital menu boards that display information stored in external databases, or delivered from QL Server itself.

Data feeds are external sources of information and graphics that are stored in your company’s databases, or from third-party data providers. QL Templates can display data in two formats. Individual cells show each record sequentially with user-specified transition effects. Data can also be shown in table formats organized in columns and rows. You specify the format and QL does the rest. Information is continuously updated which means your screens will display fresh data without the need for human intervention. Data feeds can also be used for content automation where the user sets playback rules that determine when an item can be shown on screen. Think of an ad for ice cream that’s only shown when it’s sunny and hot outside. Data feeds can contain any type of information, even URLs or HTML code that refers to a picture or a video.

How to use rss, media rss, xml, social media and calendar data feeds?

You can use data feeds to display information in a custom template or ticker.

Designer Weather small

You can use data feeds to activate any content based on live events using stored values and rules you create.

Data Feed manager

You can also use data feeds to trigger one or multiple media items based on live events using stored values and rules you create.

Digital Signage For Fire Evacuation

QL data feed management

  • RSS, media RSS, and XML. Typically news and weather but can also be data extracted from an ERP, CRM, or any software capable of interacting with a database. Common alerting protocol (CAP) is also supported. Content must be available as alphanumeric data or links to images and videos
  • Social media feeds from Twitter or Facebook that can be filtered geographically or by language.
  • Microsoft 365, and Google Calendar data.
  • QL hosted data feeds in table format with cells containing alphanumeric data and images.

What are the differences between xml, rss, social media, and calendar feeds ?

QL stores its values and content in the application’s internal database. You simply build and host your data feed inside QL and there is no coding involved.

Data feed refresh protocols and architecture

Data Pull: Users set QL Player’s data refresh rate for all RSS, XML, social media, and calendar feeds.
Data Push: QL Players receive QL server data feed updates whenever a user modifies the data using the QL Data Feed Manager or when a third-party application modifies the data via the QL API.

Why use QL server feeds?

  • QL Server feeds are safer because they don’t require your digital signage players to make calls to third-party data providers, especially if they are outside your system’s network. Also, changes are broadcast instantly to all your players.
  • Users can take advantage of QL Mobile to publish photos and post messages to any QL Player instantly. This is great for retail stores and QSRs.
  • Data is pushed out to your players whenever there is a change. The server sends these updates in real-time, but only to the players who require the data.

How to personalize a data feed on the fly, from one site or player to another?

Let’s say you have QL Players deployed across the country and you want to personalize the information displayed at each location but you don’t want to create and manage individual templates and data feeds for each one. To achieve your goals, you will use QL’s dynamic data feed feature so you can show the current weather conditions and forecasts based on each player’s physical location using a single template.
Here’s how this works… You start by assigning variables to each location and enter each player’s latitude and longitude. You can also assign other variables if you want to show the temperature in Celsius in some locations and show Fahrenheit in others. You could even specify different languages for each location.
You assign variables to each player via a unique technical profile and enter the information that QL’s Data Feed Manager will use to recreate the data source’s URL. So, if variable 1 assigned to a player contains the location’s longitude data, that information will appear in the URL where the [1] variable appears. The Data Feed Manager will reconstitute each location’s full URL using each variable’s content, creating a unique URL for each location. This is a fully dynamic process. You only need to write the URL with each variable replacing the data for each location. For example, [1] for longitude, [2] for latitude, [3] for the temperature scale, and so on.
The data source, which can be any web service or server, must generate XML feeds that match the variables you created so each QL Player can reconstitute their own unique URL.

How to display content based on feed rules and values?

Users can define rules that determine if specific content can be shown on screen based on values retrieved from external data feeds. QL’s rule-based programming feature supports multiple operators that can be used to create sophisticated content playback scenarios and multiple rules can be combined. When the content is part of a scheduled playlist and the scenario is true, the content will appear on screen with the other scheduled content. When the scenario is false it will stop playing while the other items in the playlist continue to play.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you have various ads you want to show on your screens based on the current weather observations. You could have ads for warm drinks you want to display when the weather is cold, and cold drinks when it’s warm outside. You can use a local RSS weather feed and create a rule that states the “hot content” can only be shown when the temperature is below freezing. Then you create a second rule that states the “cold content” can only be shown when the temperature is above freezing. If you place both content items in a playlist scheduled to play every day, the content will be shown based on the outside temperature. Both items can never be shown together based on these rules. If there are other items in the playlist, they will play according to their own rules, if any.

How to trigger content based on data value?

You can trigger content using the same technique as when displaying content in a playlist. When you assign content to QL’s Trigger folder, the rule-based programming feature behaves as a trigger. If the rule is true, the content will override any scheduled playlist and immediately appear on your screens. The content will continue to play as long as the scenario is true. When the scenario is false, the content will disappear and the scheduled playlist will resume.

An example would be when a data feed driven by a fire alarm system includes an alert, QL Player triggers an evacuation notice on its screen. You could have different alert messages assigned to different scenarios, such as fire, flooding, wind damage, etc.

Using API vs.user interface to update a QL server feed?

Users who write their code for more advanced digital signage applications can take advantage of the QL API. This is especially useful for complex scenarios that can’t be handled by QL’s rule-based logic.

The QL API is also useful when managing large data sets or for bypassing the QL user interface to automate various processes. You can find out more here: QL Server API Documentation