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Groupworld Frequently Asked Questions

Also see our YouTube channel for tutorials and walkthroughs.

General Product Questions

1. What browsers/devices does Groupworld run on and how much bandwidth is the user required to have?

Groupworld currently works on Safari, Chrome (including Chromebooks), Firefox and Edge without requiring a plugin, including iPad, iPhone and Android tablets/phones. Minimum bandwidth when using video or screen sharing is 256kbps upload and download, but 512kbps recommended. For further details, see the Client System Requirements page.

2. Do I need a server to run Groupworld?

No, we offer fully hosted solutions so you do not require a server.

3. Do I need to be a system administrator to set up Groupworld?

No, you don't need any specialised knowledge in order to set up Groupworld. If you purchase a hosted solution, we simply email you a link to a web page which your users just click on to connect to your Groupworld conference room. You can optionally copy the html code to your own web server and customize the page.

4. Do I need a web server?

No, you can access your conference room from our web server by simply clicking on the link that we email you. If you want you can then embed the conference room into your own web page simply by pasting a few lines of HTML code (even with the hosted solution).

5. What operating systems does the Groupworld server run on?

Currently we have Windows, Linux and Mac OSX versions of the Groupworld software, but it can be easily ported to any POSIX operating system. Many of our customers run the enterprise (self-hosted) version of Groupworld on Amazon EC2.

6. How reliable/scalable is Groupworld?

We have been refining our client-server software architecture since 1997, and have been supporting over 400 simultaneous users since 1999. All of our products currently have zero known bugs (please report any you find so that we can keep it that way), and the Groupworld server software generally runs for years at a time with no crashes.

7. Can we customize Groupworld?

Groupworld is highly customizable in a number of ways. Because it runs from within a web page, you can completely customize the web page that contains the Groupworld conference room. There are also many configuration options that can be changed in order to alter the functionality of the product, such as adding/removing buttons, changing the size of the video windows (or removing them entirely), and many other options. See the API for more details. In addition, the enterprise version includes the entire client-side source code (even with the free trial).

8. What languages does Groupworld support?

Groupworld can easily be translated into any language, and fully supports Unicode characters. We currently have Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Finnish, Korean and Chinese, Japanese and Bangla translations of the user interface.

9. How do I invite users to a room

Simply email them the link to the conference room. When they click on the link, they will enter the room and be automatically connected to any other users who are in the room. There is also an optional invite button at the top of the window which lets you email an invite to users.

10. Does Groupworld include a scheduling system / user tracking / paypal integration?

We do have some basic user scheduling features in the API, giving the ability to set a start/end time for a room and the authorized users for that room. We have also released a basic free open-source php tutor scheduling system on github. We have also integrated Groupworld with Acuity Scheduling and TutorCruncher, both of which provide scheduling and payment systems for online tutoring. You can also develop your own scheduling system. Many of our online tutoring customers such as have developed their own scheduling websites, which they then integrate the Groupworld conference room into. Because the front-end of Groupworld is entirely HTML, it is easy to integrate with a scheduling website.

11. How does licensing work? Do I need a license for each user?

The licensing for both the hosted and enterprise (self-hosted) versions of Groupworld works in terms of maximum simultaneous (concurrent) users. You can have as many registered users and rooms as you like; the only limit is the total number of users that can connect at any one time (across all your rooms). So with a 10-user license you could have 1 room with 10 users in it, or 5 rooms with 2 users in each, or any other combination. Presenters/students/teachers/viewers are all counted as a simultaneous user. However, users viewing a recording of a session are not counted towards your user limit.

12. Can I use a graphics tablet with Groupworld?

Yes, you can use any graphics tablet with Groupworld if it works as a pointer device. Wacom and Huion graphics tablets work well with Groupworld, and many of our online tutoring customers use these graphics tablets.

13. How do I cancel my subscription?

We use PayPal for our monthly subscriptions, so you can cancel your PayPal subscription at any time in your PayPal account (or you can email us and we can cancel it). No further payments will be taken.

Support/technical Questions

14. Why do I hear an echo of my own voice when using the voice conferencing?

This usually means that another user has loudspeakers which are feeding back into their microphone. Generally this should not be an issue if WebRTC is enabled for the room (which it is by default), as WebRTC has built-in echo cancellation. Note, however, that WebRTC will turn off if more than 2 users enter the room. If you wish to support more than 2 users with high quality audio/video, you should enable the "Janus Gateway" option in the room editor in the hosted Groupworld control panel . Also note that the iPhone earbuds will generate echoes when used in a laptop.

15. How do we get high quality audio/video with more than 2 users?.

WebRTC (which we use for high quality audio/video) is peer-to-peer, so it is disabled when more than 2 users log in to the room. Without WebRTC, we use a lower-quality audio codec which does not have echo cancellation, so you might get echoes if some users are not using headphones. You will also lose the full-screen video icon. If you want high quality audio/video with more than 2 users, you can enable the new Janus Gateway option for your room(s). Janus is a WebRTC gateway which allows more than 2 users to connect using WebRTC, allowing high quality audio/video for larger numbers of users. Note, however, that the audio/video data goes via the server rather than peer-to-peer.

16. I get delays/breakups with the sound/video.

Generally this indicates a poor internet connection or insufficient bandwidth. Please contact us if you continue having problems.

17. The audio does not work at all.

Please check the audio/video troubleshooting page.

18. How do I record the session to a wmv/avi file?

The recording feature in Groupworld records to a custom format on the server, and can only be played back through Groupworld. With the 25-user or higher license, we can optionally configure your Groupworld installation so that your recordings are automatically uploaded to Vimeo, Google Drive or Amaazon S3 after each session — please email us to set this up (your sessions can be public, private, or unlisted). With the enterprise version, it is possible to convert the recordings to mp4 video format and store them on your server.

19. How do I increase the number of video windows visible?

By default there is only space for 3 video windows, but you can increase this. You can also configure the video so that only the presenter can send video, or so that only the person talking can send video — this enables you to have 10 or 25 (or more) users but only one person sending video. We recommend turning on the "Janus Gateway" option for the room if there are going to be more than 2 users.

20. How can I create a multi-room login page for Groupworld?

You can use this example html code (just replace "1" with your actual Groupworld instance id).

21. How can I increase the size of the video windows?

Just tick the "large video windows" option when creating a room, or enter a specific size for "video width" and "video height".

22. I'm experiencing crashes/slowness/lost connections.

23. Why is there lag and/or missing pen strokes, or curves appear as straight lines when using a Wacom or Huion tablet on Windows?

Try unticking "Use Windows Ink" in the Wacom settings, or unticking "Support TabletPC" in the Huion settings. Also, there is currently a bug in Firefox which causes curved lines to appear slightly kinked when using a graphics tablet, so Chrome will probably work better.

24. Why does the text get cut off where it says "there are x other users connected" and other places?

This generally means that you have changed to the larger fonts in Windows, so Windows is giving us fonts that are 25% larger pixel size than we are asking for. To fix this problem on Windows 7, right-click on your Windows desktop, choose "screen resolution", then "make text and other items larger or smaller".

25. How do I type in math equations?

Simply add the optional math tools to your room in the room editor in the hosted Groupworld control panel, and you will have access to a graph plotter, equation editor and more. See the Math Tutoring Conference Room Demo for an example.

26. How do I ensure that users with different screen sizes see the same view of the whiteboard?

Simply set the "multi-user-pan" and/or "auto-zoom" whiteboard options when creating the room.

27. Why can't I select/move/delete uploaded images?

If you drag+drop the image onto the whiteboard, or paste it, you will then be able to select it and move, resize or delete it. (We do this because typically uploaded images are likely to be full-screen, and you won't want them to move).

28. Why is the Share button greyed out in Chrome when I try to share my entire screen?

The Chrome user interface for screen sharing is just confusing. You need to click on the icon of your screen before you can click the Share button. See this explanation

29. How do I set up a many-to-many room (all users transmitting video)?

You should enable the Janus Gateway option, and configure the Maximum video windows when using Janus Gateway option (new_videostrip.MAX_JANUS_WINDOWS if using the API) to one less than the maximum number of users you want in the room. If you want more than 5 or 6 users, you should enable the multiple videostrip columns option (new_conference.options["multi_column"] if using the API).

30. How do I set up a one-to-many room (one user transmitting audio/video to many users)?

You should enable the Janus Gateway option, and set the Maximum video windows when using Janus Gateway option (new_videostrip.MAX_JANUS_WINDOWS if using the API) to 1. You should also set a presenter user for the room, and enable the "If using Janus Gateway with a presenter user, restrict audio/video transmission to presenter" option (new_videostrip.options["janus_only_publish_presenter"] if using the API).

31. What bandwidth do I need in order to run the Groupworld server?

It is recommended that you have 512kbps (kilobits per second) for each user connected from outside your network if you are using screen sharing or video. If you are not using these high-bandwidth applications then you will be able to support a lot more users (e.g. whiteboard and text chat only, you will be able to support 25 users on 256kbps). The applications that use the most bandwidth are screen sharing, video conferencing and audio. The audio (voice) conferencing uses 26kbps (kilobits per second) of bandwidth. So, if you have one person speaking and 5 people connected, it will use 26x5 = 130kbps. The video conferencing uses 1.5-2k (kilobytes) per frame when using the small window size, and 3-4k per frame when using the large window size. So, if one user is broadcasting video to two other users at 10 frames per second using the large window size, it will use about 2x4x10x8=640kbps of outbound bandwidth on the server, and 320kbps of upload bandwidth on each user's computer. Desktop sharing sends a compressed png image of the screen at the beginning (which is generally 50-100k, depending on the size of your desktop), and subsequently sends the changed areas of the screen (again png compressed) once per second. In general, 512kbps of bandwidth per person will give a good response, although more bandwith will give a faster screen sharing experience (especially if you are sharing a large window). If using WebRTC (which is enabled by default if there are 2 users in the room), then audio/video will only be transmitted to your server if the session is being recorded, or if you have enabled Janus Gateway. You can see how much bandwidth is being used by transmitted/received by your computer by going to Activity Monitor on a mac and clicking the Network tab (on a PC, just download a bandwidth monitor tool). To see the bandwidth being used on your linux server, just use mrtg or similar tool.

32. What technology does Groupworld use?

The Groupworld server is compiled C++ for maximum performance (in 1999 we had a peak of 400 simultaneous users on our server using 10% CPU time of a 100Mhz CPU). We have not had any crashes or serious bugs in our server software in a number of years. The client-side software used to be a compiled C++ plugin. However since 2013 we have used an HTML5 plugin-free client based on javascript and WebRTC technology.

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