BigBlueButton video conference

This plugin integrates a Discourse instance with BigBlueButton, an open source video conferencing tool designed for online learning. You will need to have a server running an instance of BBB to use this, see http://docs.bigbluebutton.org for more details. Compared to Zoom, Jitsi and Whereby, BigBlueButton has better browser support, in my tests it worked right away on all modern browsers, including Safari on iOS and Chrome on Android.

Screenshots


To add a video conference to a topic or post, use the “Add BigBlueButton” button from the options dropdown when composing:

Features

  • Supports multiple rooms
  • Staff users and users from a configurable group are recognized as moderators in the BBB meetings
  • Administrators can choose to embed the meeting in Discourse (via iframe) or to redirect to a full page (with separate options for mobile and desktop)
  • Shows avatars of users already in the video conference next to the button to join

Notes

I would like to thank @Stephen for pointing me to BigBlueButton and for testing and providing feedback for the early versions of the plugin.

31 Likes

Really incredible work here. So many educational establishments here using BBB, and the timing for this integration is perfect.

12 Likes

Very timely. We have been using our openmod forum as a screen for our newly established interactive webinars by only advertising the webinar URLs on private topics. Not completely watertight but we try hard to keep our forum community clean. Therefore am very interested in these developments. @pmusaraj: thanks!

3 Likes

All three volunteer groups that I’m currently assisting during this trying time have moved over to using BigBlueButton.

A big part of making that switch was this plugin. The transition from Discourse topic to the conference is totally seamless and we’re seeing none of the usual problems.

Makes my life 1000x easier not to need to play tech support.

Thanks again @pmusaraj!

7 Likes

Thanks a lot of working on this. I’ve tested and it works great.

But I bring you here some suggestions for making it simpler to use. I am assuming the use-case where a staff member of the forum it not very familiar with the internals of BigBlueButton and the only previous experience he/she has is by using BigBlueButton’s interface for creating rooms (greenlight).

With that said, here are by suggestions:

  1. Explain in original post how one creates “Start conference” buttons
    After installing it took me quite a while to figure that to add a BigBlueButton button I needed to do it though the “options” (gear icon) in the text editor. Maybe mentioning that in the instructions could avoid some confuction.

  2. Make passwords easier to create

    • buttons for generating random passwords: We all know people are lazy and they’ll probably pick a lazy password. So one might give the user an even lazier option that actually makes them more secure
    • label the passwords as “(optional)” (alternative solution) and when that is not set, generate a random password. But the user should still be informed by a note that a random password will be created instead
  3. consider hiding the passwords options under "advanced"
    I guess these options can even be hidden as most people will probably just want to create a room from within discourse and not connect it to a room created with another application

  4. not mentioning technical jargon

  • I know discourse always mentions iframe, but an average user does what that is, if the label was changed to “Show inside post” instead, it would make it more clear.
  • Meeting ID is the jargon of BigBlueButton. For most users, I guess “meeting name” would be better. And perhaps adding bellow a greyed out instruction explaining that is the “meeting ID”

The image bellow has some of the “features” explained bellow. (It’s just a mockup with no functionality)

bbb-discourse

But again, It’s already a very nice-to-have plugin especially for people working on education. So thanks again!

5 Likes

I just sent an email to BigBlueButton to see if this integration can be listed on their website Integrations - BigBlueButton.

If I have any updates I’ll post it here.

2 Likes

Thanks for the feedback @core (and the publicity), I have implemented some of the thoughtful items proposed in your post.

Password generation is now randomized and hidden from the user. (Advanced users can modify the markdown and change the passwords if they would like.) I also updated the OP with a screenshot and a description on how to access the button in the options menu.

I’m not going to make this change, I know iframe is a technical term, but in this case I don’t think changing it helps, I find it will be more confusing to use “inside post”. However… you can customize this label on your own instance, under Customize > Text, filtered by “bbb.modal”. Like in this screenshot:

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Your solution looks perfect to me. The minimalism really makes a difference. And thanks for taking the time :slight_smile:

That’s a great compromise. Thanks!

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@pmusaraj no reply yet for adding the discourse plugin on the BBB’s website. I’ll try my luck on their mailinglist in the next days.

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@pmusaraj My request to join the mailinglist was rejected (no idea why). So I’m a bit out of options to reach out to them about the integration. I thought also about opening a GitHub issue, but that may be quite annoying as it’s not about the BBB code base.


edit: apparently this should have been posted to the bigbluebutton-users list. That’s why I must have been rejected.

1 Like

Did you follow the instructions in the description text? I’ve noted your integration and I am adding to a list of similar ones I’ve seen. My plan is to have a community page in the documentation where we can share things that we’ve made.

2 Likes

I did miss that. Sorry. But great to see it reached the contributors either way! Thanks for checking in!