Performers Go Web

With UpStage, the next theater is only a mouse click away.
Hiring Personnel

The name of UpStage's default theater director is z, and z has no password. You probably want to change this, so log in and enter the theater's director. Using the Add a new player link, go to http://localhost:8081/admin/new/player and add the name and password of the new director. To make him or her the big boss who can hire and fire, make sure you tick the permission to Add or Remove Players (Figure 2).

Figure 2. LJ becomes a big boss.

This new player is written to the user configuration file, Upstage/config/players.xml, like this:


<player password="551a9c1c68844936b0d182080fe7dcc0"
 name="lj" rights="act,admin,su">
</player>

The password attribute doesn't contain the actual password, which is upstage for this example, but its md5sum. If you want to add users using your favorite text editor, you can generate the password like this:

$ echo -n "upstage" | md5sum
551a9c1c68844936b0d182080fe7dcc0  -

The name attribute contains the user name of the player, and you can grant up to three rights. The big boss needs the su right. Everyone who is supposed to create and edit things that can be seen and used on stage needs the admin permission, and all players need the right to act.

Unfortunately, the Web front end is quite buggy when it comes to deleting and editing users. It doesn't show you the correct rights, it doesn't allow you to change them (not even with superuser power) and it doesn't let you delete users. If you click the check box before the relevant user entry in http://localhost:8081/admin/edit/player/ and press the Remove Players as a superuser button, UpStage removes the relevant player until the end of the session but doesn't delete him or her from players.xml. After restarting the server, all the players are alive and kicking again. Douglas Bagnall promised to fix this bug soon.

Fixing Up Roles and Props

These problems with users and permissions don't appear with the inventory of your theater. You can add and edit stages, avatars (an avatar complies with a character in your performance in one disguise),backdrops or stage designs and props using the workshop http://localhost:8081/admin/ URL. The latter can be carried by your avatar, and they always appear in the upper-left portion of the avatar, such as the blue bubbles attached to the bomb in Figure 6.

When creating new avatars, props and backdrops, you have some choices: two-dimensional pictures, Flash animations and video streams. Be careful with moving pictures, however; they require bandwidth and are real performance killers.

Video streams must be available locally and should be stored in Upstage/html/media/. For Linux, the UpStage user manual recommends webcamd as the software to use to upload a video stream by way of FTP. Unfortunately, webcamd's original project site seems to be closed (see Resources), but it still is available both as a binary and as a source archive from Debian servers.

Differing from real-world theater, an avatar, backdrop or prop can be assigned to multiple stages simultaneously. This is done in the Manage an existing stage section (http://localhost:8081/admin/edit/stage/<stagename>/, Figure 3).

Figure 3. Although the inventory names are clickable, these links don't lead to the edit dialog for the relevant item but instead point to the Flash file.

The configuration data for the stages are stored in XML format in Upstage/config/stages.xml and Upstage/config/stages/<stage-id>/config.xml. The first file lists all available stages; each of the latter holds information about the inventory assigned to the appropriate stage.

Needless to say, the three types of inventory have their own text configuration files, namely Upstage/config/props.xml, avatars.xml and backdrops.xml. They all follow the structure shown in Listing 1.

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