July 14, 2020 by John Pfleiderer

Open source AV control software is an exchange of ideas capable of rapid prototyping, transparency, collaboration, and improvements to the software designs. Presenting during InfoComm 2020 Connected, Howard Nunes of PepperDash commented, “software programmers come in from a variety of backgrounds and skill sets.” So, what is open source? And why are programmers participating?

  • Open source uses a source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance.
  • Based on community-oriented development: It does not matter who you are working for.
  • Open source is included in many applications: You are using it every day; it is a very reliable code.

Common complaints about the use of open source in AV: “all projects are different,” “we can’t find the source code,” “we can’t edit the source code,” “it has locked modules,” “standards are not applied,” etc.

Complaints center on a lack of common language to describe system functionality: Standards from AVIXA® and others have developed a dialogue that has helped this situation and work continues in this area to improve open source understanding; lack of a common specification for the functionality of the software; and lack of uniform programming skills and experience, user training, and a lack of understanding.

How does open source coding respond to the challenge of lowering the cost of design and deployment for AV?

  • Primary objectives: Lower the effort, the cost to design, deliver, and maintain excellent Crestron based control systems.
  • Consistent expectation management of programming design: This concept introduced a basis for a commonality of reference. This commonality can allow for scale expansion from a base design.
  • Provides a high level of consistency for programming added to efficiency for delivery: “not reinventing the wheel, saves time.”

What is the common framework of open source?

  • Not proprietary at all.
  • Programmers, users, and designers have a common reference framework: programming in a similar way for a commonality of code production and to allow for cross training for other programmers.
  • No argument about “who owns the code?” Anybody can use the code because there is a common ownership of the code.
  • Uses a core framework.
  • Enables a modular programming architecture.
  • Provides for a creation of modules that are useable elsewhere.
  • Includes a library of plug-in modules.
  • Supports a common configuration for plug-in modules.
  • Provides documentation for maintenance and APIs (application program interface) for upgrades.
  • Works best with a selection of components that supports extended system design: a start and add more concept.

The result for project owners when using Open Source coding: lower cost and improved programming efficiency. Open source coding also makes integration easier and provides for consistency for deployment and maintenance.

Watch the full session: The Democratization of Control: The Case for Open Source Software 

About John Pfleiderer

John Pfleiderer, MA, CTS-D, CTS-I, has had a long career as a communication and audiovisual professional. For over 40 years, John has worked in the communications field. He has done photography, cinematic projection, live sound mixing, sound and video system installation, and broadcast engineering for both transmission and production studio facilities.

Later, John was employed to work in the audiovisual field for several universities. Shifting from broadcast to AV he went on to focus on audiovisual design and installation. John went on to design many AV systems for educational and collaborative spaces. He retired from Cornell University in 2018.

Still pursuing an avid interest in AV, John accepted a position with AVIXA in 2019 and began passing down the knowledge he gained throughout his career by working in Standards Development.

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