InfoCenter

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InfoCenter

InfoCenter Display Kit vendor image.
Creator Nelson Jenkins, SLI Komarov
Launch year 2008, upgraded in 2014
Company Gentek
Availability Marketplace & In-World
InfoCenter Display Kit
InfoCenter Mobile

The InfoCenter is a series of electronic text display signs (Personal, Notice, Highway, Matrix, and Mobile) sold by Gentek. They are designed for transportation & commercial purposes, although have been creatively used for a wide variety of applications. They are all web-controllable and include an API for scripters and web developers.

This page covers the InfoCenter Series v3 and above. Because of the complexity in the new system and licensing restrictions, v3 is not a free update. For older versions, visit these pages: Mobile, Highway, or Personal

Contents

Models

The InfoCenter is made up of two separate products - the InfoCenter Display Kit, and the InfoCenter Mobile.

InfoCenter Display Kit

The Display Kit includes the following models (in both standard and Duo variants, Duo typically doubling both the number of lines and characters per line, effectively quadrupling capacity):

  • InfoCenter Personal - 16 x 1 (2 LI) or 32 x 2 (5 LI) characters. Ideal for general commercial use, and includes a variety of animated graphics for stores.
  • InfoCenter Notice - 16 x 7 (8 LI) or 32 x 14 (29 LI) characters. The highest-capacity model, ideal for news & information. Also includes graphics for commercial & industrial purposes.
  • InfoCenter Highway - 16 x 3 (4 LI) or 32 x 6 (13 LI) characters. Best suited for overhead gantry installations on roads, but can be used for walkway or general commercial applications.
  • InfoCenter Matrix - 4 x 2 (1 LI) or 8 x 5 (3 LI) characters. A road sign display with many graphics for lane control, variable speed limits, hazard warning, detours, turn restrictions, and more.

All models, excluding the Highway, have a toggleable mounting bracket. All models are modifiable (scripts excluded) and can be resized or linked (with the caveat that they cannot be linked together).

InfoCenter Mobile

The Mobile model is used for construction & road closures. 8 x 3 characters (3 LI) - the Mobile does not have a Duo variant. It is a trailer unit which can be rotated for the optimum viewing angle. It also has two trailer colors (grey & orange) and the display unit can be resized to three different sizes for different use cases. Unlike other models, the InfoCenter Mobile is not modifiable.

Because of the Mobile's long-lasting popularity over other models, we sell it separately to reduce costs for those just interested in this model. Besides the features above, the Mobile is technically identical to all other models - it is web controllable and uses the same API.

Setup & Use

InfoCenter devices are ready for use out of the box. You can control some cosmetic options described above, but once they are rezzed, they can be set immediately.

All InfoCenter devices are accessible through the InfoCenter Manager. If you access the Manager directly, you will have to log in - you can avoid this by clicking a sign and selecting Web Control. (This will also highlight the selected sign in the manager.)

If you have not created an NTBI Group account before, you will be prompted to enter a password - do not use your SL password for this! Then, in the future, you can log in to the NTBI Group website (including the InfoCenter Manager) without even being in-world.

Setting a Message

You can set any of your InfoCenter devices from the InfoCenter Manager. Click the Set button, and you will be shown the message designer interface.

Messages are made up of slides. Each slide can either be a text slide or a graphic slide, and can be set to display for generally any length of time you want. Slides are displayed sequentially and loop when completed.

The grey number next to the model name for the device you are setting is the maximum number of slides - this is dependent on the capacity of the display, so smaller displays can handle more slides (up to 60). Some very high capacity devices (such as the Notice Duo) can only handle a few slides.

When you open the message designer, the message currently displayed on that device will be shown, so you can edit it if you wish. By default, it is a single blank slide.

  • To add a text slide, type your message into the text cell input area. By default, the Amber color is used, but you can click any color in the palette below to select that color. Any new characters you type will then be in that color. When you're finished, click the Add Text button to add it to the slides.
    • Because of Javascript limitations, you must release each key before typing the next one, otherwise it won't register - type slowly and carefully!
    • Some characters are not permitted as text. If that is the case, they will not be entered.
    • For a full box character, like older InfoCenter models, use the ^ (caret) character. (This will not be shown on the website - it will only appear correctly in-world.)
  • To add a graphic slide, select a graphic from the dropdown. A preview will appear above it. To add the graphic, click Add Graphic.
  • To move slides around or delete them, click the icons next to them. Keep in mind that by default, a blank slide is included as the first slide - you may want to remove it.
  • To change the time that a slide is shown, click Change and type in a new time (in seconds), then click Save. Some high-capacity devices require longer slide times.

When you're finished, click Send To This Device. The message will be sent and displayed immediately in-world. For information on how the Send To Entire Group button works, read Using Groups below.

Using Templates

Templates are a way to easily save and recall messages. Say, for example, that you have 3 different messages you plan on displaying, but only one at a time, and you don't want to retype them every time. Templates allow you to save the message and load it later on that device (or any same-model device).

  • To save a template, design the message that you want to display, then type in a name above the Save As Template button, then click the button. If you already have a template with that name, it will be overwritten, so check first.
  • To load a template, click the dropdown to the right and select the template you want, then click Load. To permanently delete a template, click Delete instead.

Using Groups

Groups are an easy way to control multiple devices at once. Devices can only belong to a single group at a time, but you can have multiple groups. Each group can only support one specific model.

  • To add a device to a group, click the Group button, then enter the name of the group you want to add it to. If the group doesn't exist, it will be created. If it does, the device will simply be added to the group.
  • To remove a device from a group, click the Group button, delete the text in the textbox, and then click OK. This will remove it from the group. If the group no longer has any members, it will be hidden, but not technically deleted - if you recreate that group with the same name, the API key will be retained. (More information on this is in the API section.)
  • To rename a group, click the Rename button next to it, then enter a new group name. This will rename it without changing the API key, and all devices will remain in the group under the new name.
  • To set a message on an entire group, begin by setting a message on a single group member. When you're ready, click Send To Entire Group. This will send the message to all group members.

Renaming & Deleting Devices

When your device is first rezzed, it will be named "Unnamed" followed by a number. Not only is this not descriptive, but it is a bit dangerous - if your display is reset for any reason, it will lose its old name and API key. To rename it, simply click the Rename button and enter a new name. You can also rename it from in-world using the Set Disp ID option.

If your device disappears in-world, it will remain in the InfoCenter Manager. This is intended - it's to prevent accidentally deleting the device if the region is temporarily offline or there is a communication error. You can delete devices from the InfoCenter Manager by clicking Delete. This will not delete it in-world - it will only disappear from the website and lose its API key. If you delete a display while it is still in-world and online, you will get a notification in-world.

Sometimes, you may have several devices which no longer exist, but you don't want to delete them individually. To "flush" non-responsive devices, click the link at the very bottom of the page. This will individually check each device and, if it does not respond, it will be deleted automatically. Note that if a region is offline or very laggy, devices in it may be deleted without warning, so make sure all regions are OK before doing this.

Updates & Release Notes

You can update any InfoCenter product by rezzing it directly from your inventory (each one has an updater script which auto-deletes on first rez, so rezzing a used copy will not work).

  • v3.0
    • Upgraded public release.
    • Rewrote everything, so old release notes are irrelevant.

API Documentation

If you aren't planning on using the API as a scripter, you don't need to read this part - everything below this line is about the API. If you are, you'll be surprised how much you can do through the API.

The InfoCenter API allows you to control any sign from anywhere in-world or from any web server. You can set messages, change groups, rename things, and query for information. All you need is the API key for the display or group you want to control - you can even use API keys for displays you do not own.

That said, keep your API keys private! If anyone else gets a copy of your API key, they can control your device without you knowing. (Of course, you can give API keys out to trusted people if you want them to control your devices.) If this happens, you can reset your API key by clicking the Refresh link next to it - but note that you can't set your own API key, and any scripts that use the old key will no longer work.

Unlike the InfoCenter API from v2, the v3 API is HTTP-based, and the "server" can be deleted or do other things - the API can send entire messages, not just single frames, and they will be cycled locally on the device. Additionally, messages sent through the API are visible from the InfoCenter Manager, and can be edited manually. As stated above, the API object can be anywhere in-world, and no longer has to be in the same region - scripters with knowledge of PHP or other web server languages can also use the API by adapting the commands shown here (this will not be documented, so it's a DIY job).

All commands return some form of usable repsonse. Invalid request types and internal errors will return ERROR. Although it is recommended to capture the request key and handle a response accordingly, it is not absolutely required. More information on LSL's http_response event is here.

Setting a Message

You can set a message using the set request:

llHTTPRequest("http://ntbigroup.com/gentek/infocenter/api.php?r=set&k=apikey",[HTTP_METHOD,"PUT"],"content");

Replace apikey with the API key for the device or group you want to use, and replace content as described below. (This command will work for both devices and groups interchangeably.)

This request can return the following in the http_response event:

  • OK - the message was sent to all devices succesfully
  • GROUPFAIL - the message was sent to some devices in the group, but some (not all) did not respond
  • FAIL - the message was not sent to any devices because none responded
  • FORMAT-SEPARATOR - your content string is not separated by #$
  • FORMAT-SLIDES - your slide data and slide time lists are not the same length, or you sent more slides than the selected device/group can handle
  • FORMAT-DATA - one of your slide data strings is not the correct length
  • FORMAT-TIME - one of your slide times are not valid (<1 or >3600 seconds)
    • IMPORTANT: The API does not enforce the minimum slide times for high-capacity devices. If your slides are too fast, you may encounter problems.
  • NOTFOUND - the API key you used was not found

Content Format

The content for a set request must be of a very specific format. InfoCenter messages are composed like this:

HELOWRLDWWWWWWWW|HOW R U?GGGGGGGG|GRAPHIC_Blank#$3|5|3

This looks confusing, so let's take it step by step.

First, there are two sections separated by #$. The first section is the slide data, the second section is the slide times. Slides are individually separated by | characters. They must be padded to fit on the display they are set on. Each slide time is in whole seconds (integers, not floats), but slide data is more confusing:

HOW R U?GGGGGGGG

This is a single slide for a 8-character display. It is made up of the text and color strings concatenated together, each of which must be padded to columns * rows characters. So this could be an 8 x 1 display, or perhaps a 4 x 2 display. Think of these two strings as different "layers" of the slide - the color "layer" moves over to cover up the text "layer", coloring those characters individually.

All InfoCenter devices support the same colors, each with a single-digit color code - Red, Orange, Amber, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, and White. Any characters used for color other than these will be interpreted as white. So, if you wanted to make a rainbow-colored line, you could do this:

^^^^^^^^ROAYGBPW (remember, the ^ character turns into a full box character)

Remember that these strings are concatenated separately, not line-by-line. So, for an 8 x 3 display, it would look like this:

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ROAYGBPWROAYGBPWROAYGBPW

Alignment & Padding

For multiple-line displays, you'll want to pad out each line individually, as the text will hard wrap. For example, on an 8 x 3 display (note that this uses _ characters for spacing - because of wiki formatting, it's impossible to display multiple space characters, so just pretend):

LEFT____ALIGNED_TEXT____WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW

__I AM__CENTERED__TEXT__RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

___RIGHT_ALIGNED____TEXTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Below is an LSL function for aligning each line:

string align(string in, string dir, integer length, string pad)
{
    if (pad=="") pad=" ";
    if (llToUpper(dir)=="L")
    {
        while (llStringLength(in) < length)
        {
            in=in+pad;
        }
    }
    else if (llToUpper(dir)=="R")
    {
        while (llStringLength(in) < length)
        {
            in=pad+in;
        }
    }
    else // assume center
    {
        integer osc=0; // we have to be a little smarter here
        while (llStringLength(in) < length)
        {
            if (osc) in=pad+in; // this will align left, then right,
            else in=in+pad;     // then left, then right...
            osc=!osc;           // ... effectively centering the text
        }
    }
    return llGetSubString(in,0,length-1); // cut off any excess if we added it on accident
}

This function allows you to align text left, right, or centered, to a specific length (in our case, columns), using an optional customizable padding string. You can use this padding string for colors.

For example, here's how to get the same text as above using this function (remember, we are on an 8 x 3 display):

align("LEFT","L",8,"") + align("ALIGNED","L",8,"") + align("TEXT","L",8,"") + align("","",24,"W") - we can leave the padding string empty and it will default to a space

align("I AM","",8,"") + align("CENTERED","",8,"") + align("TEXT","",8,"") + align("","",24,"R") - we can leave the alignment string empty and it will default to centered

align("RIGHT","R",8,"") + align("ALIGNED","R",8,"") + align("TEXT","R",8,"") + align("","",24,"A")

Note that we used a trick to create the color strings - by leaving the input and alignment strings empty, the function will simply create a string duplicating the padding string until it reaches the length. In our case, we used it to fill the entire display (8 x 3) with a single color. You could also make each line a separate color, or create a rainbow effect, like so:

align("","",24,"^") + align("","",8,"R") + align("","",8,"G") + align("","",8,"B") - would make a red, green, and blue line

align("","",24,"^") + align("","",24,"ROAYGBPW") - would make rainbow stripes (note that using any length of padding is fine, because any excess will be cut off)

Slides must be of the correct length for the device they are set on, or they will be rejected by the API. Remember, the formula is columns * rows for the text and color strings - so columns * rows * 2 for both of them combined together.

Example

Okay, let's start backing up. Recall that all slides are separated by the | character, but there was one slide - GRAPHIC_Blank - which looks odd. That's because you can set graphic slides by simply taking the name of the graphic you want and adding GRAPHIC_ to the beginning - for example, GRAPHIC_Lane Open Down for the Matrix. (If the graphic isn't supported by the model you are working with, it will show up as Blank.) Because graphics aren't colorable, you don't need to worry about color strings for them.

Once you have your desired slides and times, you can do something like this to "finalize" them into the required format:

string makeContent(list slide_data, list slide_times)
{
    return llDumpList2String(slide_data,"|") + "#$" + llDumpList2String(slide_times,"|");
}

Note that the slide_data and slide_times lists must be of equal length.

So, using the above functions (which are omitted for brevity), here's how to make (and send) a 3-slide centered message - obviously you'll have to replace apikey first. The entire script is included, and is extremely basic, but demonstrates how to also capture the response:

key api_request;

default
{
    state_entry()
    {
        api_request=llHTTPRequest("http://ntbigroup.com/gentek/infocenter/api.php?r=set&k=apikey",[HTTP_METHOD,"PUT"],
            makeContent([
                align("I AM","",8,"") + align("CENTERED","",8,"") + align("TEXT","",8,"") + align("","",24,"W") ,
                align("I AM","",8,"") + align("CENTERED","",8,"") + align("RED TEXT","",8,"") + align("","",24,"R") ,
                align("LOOK AT","",8,"") + align("THESE","",8,"") + align("COLORS","",8,"") + align("","",24,"ROAYGBPW")
            ],[3,3,5])
        );
    }
    http_response(key request_id, integer status, list metadata, string body)
    {
        if (request_id==api_request)
        {
            api_request=NULL_KEY;
            if (status==200) llOwnerSay("Response: "+body);
            else llOwnerSay("Server error. ("+(string)status+")");
        }
    }
}

Setting a Device's Group

You can set a device's group using the grp request:

llHTTPRequest("http://ntbigroup.com/gentek/infocenter/api.php?r=grp&k=apikey",[HTTP_METHOD,"PUT"],"New Group Name");

Replace apikey with the API key for the device you want to modify, and replace New Group Name with the group name that you want to add it to. To remove from a group, leave blank or enter NULL.

This request can return the following in the http_response event:

  • OKNew Group Name - the group was set successfully (the new group name is appended to OK - for example, when removing from a group, this will be OKNULL)
  • LENGTH - your group name is too long (maximum 64 characters)
  • MISMATCH - the group you want to join already exists and is for a different model
  • NOTFOUND - the API key you used was not found

Remember, groups are never technically erased, so if adding to a group that previously existed but is currently empty, the group will be "recreated" using the old API key. This makes it possible to add devices to an empty group while knowing its API key in advance. However, it is not possible to get the group's API key through the API itself.

Renaming a Device or Group

You can rename a device or a group using the ren request:

llHTTPRequest("http://ntbigroup.com/gentek/infocenter/api.php?r=ren&k=apikey",[HTTP_METHOD,"PUT"],"New Name");

Replace apikey with the API key for the device or group you want to rename, and replace New Name with the new name you want to use. (This command will work for both devices and groups interchangeably.)

This request can return the following in the http_response event:

  • OKNew Name - the name was set successfully (the new name is appended to OK)
  • LENGTH - your name is too short or too long (1-64 characters required)
  • DUPLICATE - the name you want to use already exists, or the device/group is already set to that name
  • NOTFOUND - the API key you used was not found

Note that it is possible to remove all devices from a group by renaming the group to NULL. However, this will make it impossible to use the group's API key again until a device is added to it.

Querying Device/Group Information

You can request information about a device or a group using the inf request:

llHTTPRequest("http://ntbigroup.com/gentek/infocenter/api.php?r=inf&k=apikey",[HTTP_METHOD,"PUT"],"");

Replace apikey with the API key for the device or group you want to get information about. The content field is not used. (This command will work for both devices and groups interchangeably.)

Running this command on its own without capturing the response is worthless, so you'll want to do that.

This request can return the following in the http_response event:

  • For devices, a #$-separated string with the following: OK, DEVICE, device name/ID, device owner's username, device group, device model, device columns, device rows, max supported slides, location, UUID
    • For example: OK#$DEVICE#$Unnamed 1#$nelson.jenkins#$NULL#$InfoCenter Mobile#$8#$3#$42#$Prototype (142, 228, 43)#$9794a972-0131-3f33-7059-b04fc5ad92dd
  • For groups, a #$-separated string with the following: OK, GROUP, group name, group owner's username, device model, device columns, device rows, max supported slides, number of devices in group
    • For example: OK#$GROUP#$Test Group#$nelson.jenkins#$InfoCenter Personal#$16#$1#$60#$2
  • NOTFOUND - the API key you used was not found

You'll probably want to make use of llParseStringKeepNulls for this - although it is not technically possible for null entries to appear, don't rule out the possibility. Also, do not expect this command to return data at this length forever - we may add additional fields (however unlikely) in the future, so don't check the response list length.


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