The e:cue Programmer’s HTTP server is an extremely powerful tool for creating completely customized end user interfaces. Depending on your needs there are a couple of different ways that you can go about interfacing with the server. This tutorial is only going to cover getting the server enabled (including troubleshooting common problems). I’ll follow up later with tutorials to help get you going with the flash action pad and creating your own html interface.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with what an HTTP server is, it is the type of server used for web pages. I’m not going to go in depth about what HTTP is or how it works. If you want an easy-to-read yet thorough explanation of the HTTP protocol, you can find one here.
OK, let’s get started. For this tutorial I will be using programmer V5.3. This is important because both the settings and the method for choosing those settings has changed dramatically from older versions of the programmer. Also, you will need to be running the programmer in Enterprise mode (with an Enterprise dongle) to be able to start the server.
First thing you need to do is go to your application options by clicking the icon and then click on the “HTTP Server” tab. You should now be able to see this.
Enabling the Server
The first thing you’ll want to do is set your network interface. If you click on the IP addressA unique network address that consists of four numbers separated by periods such as 192.168.123.1 (which happens to be the default address for all e:cue equipment). next to the “Network Address” setting, you will see a button labeled “…” Click this button and you’ll get a list of IP addresses available on your computer. Select the interface that you would like to use.
Why do I need to do this? Say you have a server running a bunch of butlers on their own network. You can hook up a secondary network interface on the server that connects to the internet, corporate network, wireless router, etc. which will allow you to communicate with the e:cue software via a secondary network.
The default port for an HTTP server is 80. When you go to a website such as http://ecue.com your web browser automatically knows that it should contact that server on port 80. In most cases you should leave this as is. If, for some reason, you wish to change from the default port (you are already running another web server, or you want to use an obscure port to make sure no one accidentally stumbles onto the web page, etc) you can change it to any other valid TCP port number. If you change the port number, then you need to specifically ask for that port within your browser. For example, let’s say that we changed it to 99 and your IP addressA unique network address that consists of four numbers separated by periods such as 192.168.123.1 (which happens to be the default address for all e:cue equipment). is 192.168.1.5 You would need to use the address http://192.168.1.5:99/somepath in order to talk to the server.
Now that you have your IP addressA unique network address that consists of four numbers separated by periods such as 192.168.123.1 (which happens to be the default address for all e:cue equipment). and port set, click on OK and go to the HTTP Server log tab on the main interface. If everything went well, you should see a message that says something like “Listening on 192.168.123.5:80”. If you see that, you can go ahead and move on to the next section.
If you see a error message that says something like “Error setting up listener thread! Port 80 may be unavailable!” then your socket 80 is already being used by another program. Most likely if there is already another HTTP server set up on your computer you’d know about it and you can either disable it, change it’s listening port, or change Programmer’s listening port. The major culprit for unintended open HTTP ports is Skype. By default Skype uses port 80 to listen for incoming connections. You can either completely shut down Skype or go to “Tools > Options > Advanced > Connection” and uncheck the “Use ports 80 and 443 as alternatives for incoming connections”. Once you’ve done this, go back to programmer and try again to see if it works.
If you don’t have Skype installed and you’re still having this error message, then you’ll have to hunt down what program is keeping the port open, which is a bit beyond the scope of this article, but I can pont you to this tool which will make hunting it down a lot easier.
Preparing for use
At this point, if you are planning to use the flash action pad, you should be set, you should be able to point any browser on the same network segement as the server to http://192.168.123.99/ActionPad/ActionPad.html (replace the IP addressA unique network address that consists of four numbers separated by periods such as 192.168.123.1 (which happens to be the default address for all e:cue equipment). with the one you are using) and you should see the flash action pad load up. You’ll want to pay attention to the next part of the article though because you’ll be able to use it to create a shortcut later.
If you are going to be creating custom HTML files, you’ll need to set the home path for them. You’ll want to create a folder on your computer for these files to be stored. The default is C:\ServerRoot but you can set it to anything you like.
Next you’ll want to set the default document. The default document is the document that is sent from the server when you don’t ask for a specific file name. For example, when you go to http://ecue.com the server is going to see that you didn’t ask for a file name, so it will give you http://ecue.com/index.php. Most servers use index.htm, index.html, or default.htm as their default documents. You can change it to whatever you wish, but I would suggest leaving it as index.html to remain consistent with the defacto standard.
Once you have the home folder and default set as you wish, click on OK then create a text file in that folder with the name of your default file (such as c:\ServerRoot\index.html). In that test file simply type “test” and save it. Now, go to your browser and go to your ip addressA unique network address that consists of four numbers separated by periods such as 192.168.123.1 (which happens to be the default address for all e:cue equipment). (ie http://192.168.123.55) don’t forget to add the port if you selected something other than 80.
If you see anything other than “test”, go through and make sure that your file and folder names match the settings you created. If you used notepad, make sure that the file actually got saved as a .html file instead of a .txt file, as in some circumstances it will add it automatically so that you end with a file named index.html.txt. You may have to enable viewing of hidden file extensions.
Once you get to this point, you are able to use the HTTP server as described in the System Basic Manal help file included with the software. I will also be doing another tutorial in the future that goes in depth on how to create web based interfaces that use the server.
The largest advances in the newly revamped HTTP server are in security. You can now assign a username and password both to the html part of the server and to the flash action pad. To enable the use of this security feature, all you need to do is set the username and password that you want and it will automatically be enforced next time you try to use the server. Unfortunately you can only have one set of credentials with no way to serve different content based on who is logging in.
Finally we have the “Security Policies” options, which mainly have to do with scripting.
- e:script Execution – allows execution of e:script commands over the http server
- System Commands – allows external programs to be called, which can be dangerous especially if left open on the internet
- Show Modification – allows cues to be recorded, etc
- File Modification – allows commands that save to, create, or delete external files
You should only enable the options that you absolutely need, and be especially careful if the machine is accessible over the internet or any other network subject to unknown users.