Tuesday, December 23, 2008

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Tutorial: Wowza Media Server Pro

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Many Java developer tools can be used. I find that Wowza’s own Eclipse-based integrated development environment (IDE) is a very nice tool for the job. It is fast, reliable, and stable. Developers can run Wowza Pro server within the IDE. This is helpful in debug mode (to hit break points and see logging output in the console) and to dynamically compile and drop modules into the appropriate places in the server folders. Wowza IDE is available for Windows or Mac OS X; it is a free download from Wowza’s website.

When developing Wowza modules, start by reading the Creating a Custom Module chapter in the Wowza Pro User Guide. Next read the Wowza IDE User Guide that comes with the IDE. This concise guide covers the basics of the IDE and what you need to know to load a custom module in a Wowza Pro application.

The Server-Side API in the Wowza Server documentation folder is an extensive reference that provides details on various API calls.

The best way to learn is with the “ServerSideModules” example that comes with the server (in the example folder). It includes two Wowza server-side module class files, and Flash client applications that connect to them. The files in this example are very instructive, and any developer getting started with Wowza modules should study them. These examples are the real quick-start guide to Wowza development.

The first Wowza module in this example is MyFirstModule, which is Wowza’s “hello world.” The other example is ModuleServerSide, which is a working index of functions and data types that demonstrate a wide range of ways for Wowza to interact with a Flash client. These examples are very helpful in understanding the overall architecture of a streaming application, and where the web server and Flash client are in relation to Wowza server and applications.

Logging and Monitoring
Wowza Pro installation comes with JConsole, a popular Java Management Extensions (JMX) console that is widely used to monitor Java-based applications. With Wowza Pro it is used for real-time monitoring of local or remote servers.

For logging, Wowza uses the standard W3C Extended Log Format (ECLF). The logs can be parsed for analysis in many ways. For example, the popular log analysis tool Sawmill provides a Wowza-specific module. But you can also read log files in a text editor in order to see what is happening on the server.

Wowza for Amazon EC2
In conclusion, one other licensing option for Wowza Media Server Pro worth mentioning is Wowza Pro for Amazon EC2. This version is available as paid Software as a Service (SaaS) on Amazon’s elastic compute cloud where capacity can be added or reduced on-demand. It is not a simple solution. This service is intended for tech-savvy streamers, not the users who are looking for a CDN turnkey solution. I recently used it to stream a weekend-long live music event from California organized by PeaceRoots Alliance. It worked well and proved to be very economical.

Others seem to find it attractive as well, even for large-scale deployments. One user, Mogulus, an up-and-coming provider of live stream publishing services, deployed some 60,000 producers on the Wowza Pro for EC2 infrastructure.

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