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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

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
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
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 properties
AVC User Properties
  • set preference for unicast or multicast
  • set personal information