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AVC: The Access Grid Venue Customizer. A joint R&D project by NRC, SFU/Westgrid, CRC. Andrew Patrick, NRC Canada Brian Corrie, SFU/Westgrid. Outline. Why build a venue customizer? How we built AVC Issues and next steps Optional : How to run AVC (tutorial). Quality of Experience (QoE).

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AVC: The Access Grid Venue Customizer

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Avc the access grid venue customizer

AVC: The Access Grid Venue Customizer

A joint R&D project by NRC, SFU/Westgrid, CRC

Andrew Patrick, NRC Canada

Brian Corrie, SFU/Westgrid



  • Why build a venue customizer?

  • How we built AVC

  • Issues and next steps

  • Optional: How to run AVC (tutorial)

Quality of experience qoe

Quality of Experience (QoE)

  • Quality of Experience

    • Measure of human experience, not technology

  • Making it work

    • Task: What is the user trying to do?

    • Need: What is needed to accomplish the task?

    • Services: What services meet the needs?

Bringing qoe to collaborative environments

Bringing QoE to Collaborative Environments

  • Information about the research behind AVC can be found in the following papers:

    • Corrie, B., Wong, H., Zimmerman, T., Marsh, S., Patrick, A.S., Singer, J., Emond, B., & Noël, S. (2003). Towards quality of experience in advanced collaborative environments. Paper presented at the Third Annual Workshop on Advanced Collaborative Environments, June 22, Seattle. (NRC 46521)

    • Patrick, A.S., Singer, J., Corrie, B., Noël, S., El Khatib, K., Emond, B., Zimmerman, T., & Marsh, S. (2004). A QoE Sensitive Architecture for Advanced Collaborative Environments. Paper presented at the First International Conference on Quality of Service in Heterogeneous Wired/Wireless Networks (QSHINE 2004), Oct. 18-20, Dallas, TX.

Quality of experience and access grid

Quality of Experience and Access Grid

  • Identifying tasks and needs

    • What is the user trying to accomplish?

  • Create task-specific AG venues

    • Populate venue with services that meet needs

    • Services are ranked based on importance to task

  • Deploying task specific AG services

    • Configure node services appropriate to the task

    • Start/stop/configure node services “auto-magically”

Ag venue customizer avc the avc process

AG Venue Customizer (AVC)The AVC Process

AVC User

Download task

Configure services

Change Task







Add Shared App

AVC Manager

Choose task

Choose bandwidth

Store Task and Services

Avc features

AVC Features

  • Set of common tasks provided

    • Services configured based on CSCW research

  • User customizable tasks available

    • Users can add their own tasks

  • Controls node services through venue client

    • Works on multi-machine nodes

  • Adapts services based on bandwidth

    • Adaptation sensitive to task

Avc effects

AVC Effects

  • control the launching and settings of AG node services

  • currently controls audio service via RAT parameters

    • audio encoding (L16, PCM, DVI, GSM)

    • audio sampling rate ( 16 kHz, …)

    • silence suppression (off, …)

    • lecture mode (off, …)

  • currently controls video service via VIC parameters

    • frame rate (24, …)

    • video size (normal, …)

    • video encoding (H.261, …)

    • bandwidth (64 – 4096)

    • max bandwidth (256 – 4096)

    • quantization quality (71 – 100)

Avc uses

AVC Uses

Typical uses for AVC are:

  • configure an important business meeting for the highest possible audio and video quality when all participants have high bandwidth

  • configure a distance education event where some students will have limited bandwidth to give relatively high priority to video (because of the visual materials being used in the lesson), and relatively low priority to audio

  • scale a meeting to take into account the minimum bandwidth available to the participants (e.g., someone is connecting from home)

Avc in the ag architecture

AVC in the AG Architecture




retrieves or saves matrix



sends request


Venue DataStore






requests or saves matrix


gets matrix settings


Venue Server

Local DataStore


SOAP Proxy

AVC Audio


AVC Video


Inside avc

Inside AVC

  • “DefaultSettings.ini” file defines the starting point

  • later, personal settings saved in “settings.ini” file (e.g., custom tasks, user properties)

  • current venue settings are stored on the venue server (application data store)

    • definitions for settings come from “settings.ini” file

The matrix

“The Matrix”

  • settings file contains “the matrix” – the heart of AVC

Service parameter definitions

Service Parameter Definitions

  • definition for each quality level for each service


    audiosilence = 0

    audiofrequency = 16K

    streamname = Quality 8

    audiolecture = 0

    audioprimary = L16


maxbw = 1800

update_note = 0 Quality 6

framerate = 24

videosize = normal

bandwidth = 1024

defaultformat = h261

transmitonstartup = true

quality = 81

Custom node services needed for more parameter control

Avc class diagram

AVC Class Diagram










Developing avc

Developing AVC

  • AVC.py – collection of utility methods

    • access venue client functions

      • get client & server proxy

      • start & stop services via proxies

      • read venue data

      • read/write local & remote files & data

    • QoEApplicationDescription

      • handle “the matrix”

  • GUI code

    • initially built with Boa Constructor

Future work

Future Work

  • implement control of other node/shared services

    • shared work spaces

    • presentation spaces

    • turn-taking support

    • decision support

    • privacy controls

    • meta-communications

  • what do quality settings mean for these services?



  • concept testing

    • are customized venues better than default venues?

    • can users describe their tasks?

    • can we determine the needs for these tasks?

    • is the matrix correct?

  • usability testing

    • installation

    • integration

    • ease-of-use

Issues and limitations

Issues and Limitations

  • need better media services

    • limited quality ranges

    • unstable with non-standard settings

      • video other than h.261, normal size

      • audio sampling other than 16 kHz

  • connects to first unicast bridge only

  • Boa Constructor/wxPython compatibility issues

  • task and service level definitions should be centrally stored on the data store and maintainable

  • need an event mechanism when a manager changes a venue customization

  • should return to AG service defaults when AVC quits (currently must re-start Venue Client)

Node services shared apps

Node Services/Shared Apps

  • Node Services vs. Shared Apps

    • Shared Apps

      • Venue controlled

        • Can add features based on purpose, not based on node

      • Venue, not node based

        • Can’t start up shared apps on other machines in a node

    • Node services

      • Node, not machine based

      • Node controlled, not venue controlled

        • Need a way to configure services from venue

The avc team

The AVC Team

  • At the National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa

    • Andrew Patrick

    • Kenneth Emig

    • Janice Singer

    • Bruno Emond

    • Khalil El Khatib

    • Stephen Marsh

    • Siraj Sabihuddin (student programmer)

    • Changhua Wu (student programmer)

  • At Simon Fraser University, Vancouver

    • Brian Corrie

    • Todd Zimmerman

  • At the Communications Research Center, Ottawa

    • Sylvie Noel

  • For more information about AVC contact: Andrew.Patrick@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

Backup usage tutorial

Backup: Usage Tutorial

Installing avc

Installing AVC

  • AVC home page: http://iit130033.iit.nrc.ca/AVC/index.html

  • installing the shared application:

  • download AVC shared application (AVCv0.3.zip)

  • unzip to a temporary folder

  • install as usual: agpm –f AVC.app

Avc node services

AVC Node Services

  • download AVC Node Services (Windows and/or Linux)

  • unzip to temporary folder

  • copy service zip files to NodeServices location

    • e.g., AVCAudioService.zip  C:\Program Files\AGTk-2.3\NodeServices

  • configure your node to use the services using the ServiceManager

Store an avc configuration

Store an AVC Configuration

  • can make AVC node services the default, or store a custom node configuration

Creating avc sessions

Creating AVC Sessions

  • Start an application session

  • or join an existing session

Launching the avc shared app

Launching the AVC Shared App

  • default is User Mode

  • right-click to select Manager Mode

Avc manager mode

AVC: Manager Mode

Choose a task

Choose A Task

  • select category and specific task

Select bandwidth scaling

Select Bandwidth Scaling

  • four bandwidth levels defined

  • scaling retains task characteristics (i.e., relative priority of services)

Customizing tasks

Customizing Tasks

  • select File -> Customize

  • load existing task settings or start from scratch

Saving new tasks

Saving New Tasks

  • give it a name and save it

  • will appear under a “custom” task category

Help information

Help Information

  • Manager and User manuals included in shared application

Avc user mode

gives control over AG services

can switch to Manager mode

AVC: User Mode

View venue settings

view the current settings

View Venue Settings

Avc user properties

AVC User Properties

  • set preference for unicast or multicast

  • set personal information

  • Login