The right digital signage software is crucial for getting the most out of any digital display device. Free solutions exist for digital display systems, but the jargon that one may encounter along the way can present a barrier. Consider this article an introductory guide to making sense of the options.
When it comes to digital signage software—or any software at all, for that matter—it’s important to first consider device compatibility. Not every signage device allows for the installation of more than its built-in operating system. Those that do may have specific requirements.
Before making any purchases, consider this factor before all others to avoid wasting significant time and money. Better yet, consult with a professional A/V integrator. An A/V integrator will not only be able to discuss issues of compatibility, but he or she can also offer advice based on their expert opinion. Ultimately this is the best option for positive results.
Free Software Varieties
Free digital signage software is surprisingly abundant, but the software quality varies immensely. This guide will not recommend any software in particular, but stress the importance of understanding the categories for free digital signage software, which is a crucial step for making the right decision.
* Open Source: Open source programs are developed by the open source community. As with all free programs, open source options come with limited support. While open source options can be solid, they’re also rarely programmed to be used by individuals with a limited background in programming. They tend to be tough to approach and operate, filled with jargon and obscure options best suited for individuals with backgrounds in, for example, information technology. In some circumstances, the open source program may be abandoned by the community, meaning that while the program may still be popularly used, support is non-existent and the program will eventually become obsolete.
* Hybrid Open Source & Commercial SaaS: While SaaS may look like a bizarre noun with a typo, it is in fact an acronym. SaaS stands for Software as a Service and refers to a subscription-based model wherein users pay to continue using the service. This is generally on a month-to-month basis. There are a few examples of digital signage software that fall under the category of the Hybrid model. In these cases, the difference between the strictly open source variety is that this software may be produced by a commercial company but the program is free to use. In these instances, the program may not be fully functional, and consumers may need to pay for more advanced features.
* Commercial SaaS: While these programs are considered free, there are strings attached and they do not involve open source licensing nor community contributions. Many programs that fall into this category offer a free version with limited functionality (a single template may be available, for example) whereas others may only offer a trial version. In some instances, the distinction between hybrid and strictly commercial (and yet technically free) programs may be blurry.
When it comes to the software used for digital signage, an A/V integrator can provide solutions and options that will benefit the business and make message delivery intuitive and effective.