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Breaking the Myth of Difficult Device Integration

30/03/2022

30 March, 2022

Blog

By Matic Hajdinjak

Agama has a long history when it comes to device integrations. For more than a decade we've dealt with projects of all sizes/lengths. With every completed milestone, and even more with every obstacle, we've been steadily building up the knowledge required to succeed.

What are the plugins? One of the key parts of understanding the satisfaction of your users is to assess the quality of experience for the services they consume, their engagement, the type of content they like to watch etc. Agama has an excellent track record in providing such insights, in fact, this is the core of what we do.

The implementations of these important KPIs historically included, among others, the following steps: agreement on the desired metrics set, investigation of the available metrics in the target platform, integration of these metrics towards the Agama core agent. A lot of these steps were unique for every integration. This was partially due to different wishes from different customers, but mostly due to the unique characteristics of each of the target platforms.

With the growing popularity of OTT platforms and the rise of players such as ExoPlayer, Shaka Player or AV Player, the target platforms became increasingly similar between integrations. The shift from everything is custom to common platforms and players enabled Agama to step outside its domain. We started actively investigating players and platforms, gathering knowledge about them, assessing what could be possible and feasible, and defining an absolute base of metrics that would benefit every customer. These are all implemented in what we call 'Player plugins .

The player plugins follow a few basic principles:

Agama develops and maintains the plugins

The plugins provide a good set of metrics, making them usable directly

No Agama domain knowledge is required for plugin integration - just a few, stable APIs are necessary

Ability to pass custom metrics to the plugin

Agama develops and maintains player plugins for most of the popular players, such as ExoPlayer, Shaka Player, AVPlayer, and for platforms such as Android, FireOS, iOS, tvOS, Chromecast, Browsers, WebOS, Tizen etc.

While the complete list of metrics differs slightly between plugins, they all share most of the metrics. Some of the features they have in common are:

QoS and QoE metrics

Device properties

Ability to understand asset consumption

Ability to understand playback errors (for instance, DRM errors)

Integrations keep it simple Let's take a closer look at what it takes to integrate Agama into your application. To make it as realistic as possible, let's use ExoPlayer as the target player and Android as the target platform.

ExoPlayer is currently one of the most popular players for Android. It is extremely customizable and flexible, yet easy to start with. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that it is used by everyone, from hobby enthusiasts to video operators and even YouTube.

Requirements Let's start by describing what requirements and dependencies are needed to use the plugin in the first place. Players evolve quickly and so do their capabilities and APIs, and this truly applies to the ExoPlayer. Therefore, the plugin comes in multiple variants associated with various ExoPlayer minor versions. By using a relatively modern version, plugin-player compatibility should not be a problem.

Some metrics implemented by the plugin can be subject to platform permissions. These are not critical to have in any sense, but more on the good-to-have side and will only be included if permissions are granted. Also related to privacy issues, the plugin can be configured to skip certain sensitive metrics. Such information can be, for example, the collection of the device's longitude and latitude position.

Lastly, the plugin is to be included in the project as any other 3rd party library. And the empclient must be included in the same way as well.

Initialization and configuration steps Initialize the plugin as early as possible. The plugin's lifetime shall reflect the application's lifetime. To initialize it, one needs an Agama configuration string. It is passed on to the Agama core agent - empclient, and includes information such as report heartbeat and the operator id. The configuration string is typically provided by Agama. The application properties such as the applications name and version are needed during initialization.

String agamaConfig =

emp_service=https://cdm1.company123.se/report;report_interval=60;id_report_interval=240;operator_id=fooSoo; ;

String appName = Company 123 Play App ;

String appVersion= 2.1 ;

// Initialize the plugin

EmpStats.getInstance().init(agamaConfig, Definitions.LogLevel.DEBUG, appName, appVersion, ExoPlayerLibraryInfo.VERSION, getApplicationContext());

Once the plugin instance is created, an account associated with the user should be set as well. This will enable (among other things) to find the customer in the Agama system by its account id.

// Set user account id for user John Doe

EmpStats.getInstance().setUserAccountId( johdo28 );

Monitoring video Now the plugin is initialized, configured and sending data to the Agama backend. It's time to start monitoring the consumed assets. The user has switched to a new channel, started up an asset from the catchup library or simply opened a new episode of their favorite TV series. Opening any new asset shall be signaled to the plugin.

// Load asset & play

String assetUri= https://demo.agamatech.se/Manifest.m3u8 ;

EmpStats.getInstance().sessionOpen(assetUri, Definitions.AssetType.VOD, Sintel , player);

URI uri = uri.parse(assetUri);

player.setMediaItem(MediaItem.fromUri(uri), false);

player.prepare();

Analog to signaling the intent to start playing content, one needs to signal playback termination as well
LINK: https://agama.tv/breaking-the-myth-of-difficult-device-integration/...
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