fids3 - the 3rd generation of fids
 
  FAQ - Frequently asked questions

  1. What fids3 stays for ?
  2. What is the 'F3 controller' ?
  3. What is the 'F3 controller extension' ?
  4. Does fids3.com supply LCD monitors ?
  5. Does fids3.com supply 'F3 controllers' PCs ?
  6. Can I install the 'F3 controller extension' on self-supplied PC hardware ?
  7. Can I install the F3 controller on the back of the monitor ?
  8. Does fids3.com provide/install network infrastructure ?
  9. Are there special network requirements for Fids3 installation ?
  10. Do I need any special client software/hardware to use Fids3 ?
  11. What about security ? Can everyone access the system ?
  12. Can we install the Fids3 server in a 19" Inch rack ?
  13. What is about installation ?
  14. What is about commissioning ?
  15. What is about training ?
  16. What is about documentation ?
  17. Does Fids3 contain a Page Designer Tool ?
  18. Do we need any image software to operate Fids3 ?
  19. Can I add/change own airline logos ?
  20. How can I add/change monitor display layouts ?
  21. Does Fids3 support communication links to external systems ?
  22. Can Fids3 drive other display devices e.g. Splitflap or LCD/LED boards ?
  23. Can we add more monitors/displays in a future step ?
  24. Can extend the number of client workstations in a future step ?
  25. How a license upgrade will be handled ?
  26. Is an Internet connection necessary to run Fids3 ?
  27. What happens if the Internet provider/connection temporary fails ?
  28. Are foreign character sets supported ?
  29. Is 2-language page switching (e.g. Arabic/English) supported ?
  30. Does Fids support clustered monitor pages ?
  31. Is foreign language freetext (e.g. Arabic) input supported ?
  32. Are there individual Check-In page layouts for airlines possible ?
  33. Can we advertise on monitors ?
  34. How many monitors can I connect to Fids3 ?
  35. How many client/staff workstations can I connect to Fids3 ?
  36. Can Fids3 serve Internet-connected flight information displays ?
  37. Is Fids3 available in a Standby Version ?
 
What fids3 stays for ?

Fids3 stays for '3rd generation (F)light (I)nformations (D)isplay (S)ystem'.

Before the personal computer (PC) came up there were a lot of miscellaneous systems mostly developed in assembler language on different hardware platforms (e.g. Dec VAX, Microvax, PDP11, Honeywell Bull DPS3). Hardware was very heavy and expensive. There were absolutely no standards. This was the 1st generation of FIDS.

Beginning of the 90ties the personal computer (PC) was developed. The power of this new generation of computers was improved dramatically and the first implementations of the PC-based UNIX V operation system became available. For the
same time the programming language 'C' consolidated as a standard. This was the technical environment the most of the today's available FIDS are (still) based on (a UNIX based FIDS written in 'C' with proprietary Windows based clients (PCs) which are network/serial connected to the FIDS server). This was the 2nd generation of FIDS.

The today's technical environment is dominated by the total networking provided by the internet. The browser is the standard client interface (HTML) which nearly everyone is familiar in using it today. The today's penetration of mobile devices (Cellphones, Web-Pads) is comparable to the TV penetration. The latest generation of mobile phones will offer comprehensive graphical features (e.g. the Samsung Galaxy S3 has a resolution of 1280x720 pixels).
This enables you to communicate with the network in a way we haven't seen before. This also will influence the way the airport's staff will communicate with the existing software systems. Using a today's smart phones makes it possible to communicate with the Fids3 system without any functional restrictions compared to a normal Intranet/Internet browser client. This is only possible because Fids3 uses 100% browser technology for all its front-ends and public monitor displays.

The software world is dominated by the programming language Java© which is really portable and perfectly designed for today's Internet communications. Several open-source projects offer professional cost-free software products/platforms (databases, middleware) and are well accepted/used in today's enterprise development as well.

Fids3 is designed for the Internet and the mobile future without any compromises. It hasn't any dependency on any software license (operating system, middleware, database), hardware or proprietary protocols. Add a Fids3 server to the airports LAN and have real-time flight data available everywhere just using the browser. Modern AJAX technology supported by all modern browsers enables this. Fids3 makes you independent from any TFT monitor brand/manufacturer and uses the popular and free Firefox© browser capabilities for perfect monitor layouts. (See example here)

This is the reason why it is called Fids3 ('The 3rd generation of FIDS).

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What is the F3 controller ?

To display flight information on any common brand LCD monitor (e.g. Samsung) you need a unit which communicates with the Fids3 server system and controls the display content on the screen due to the configuration and requirements of the application.

This is done by the 'Fids3 video controller (also F3 Controller or just F3C)' which is the name for a logical component which physically is just a PC equipped with an operating system (normally Ubuntu Linux or Windows XP/7), the Firefox Browser and a piece of software provided by fids3.com, the 'F3 controller extension'.

The F3 Controller is located between the Fids3 server and the LCD monitor (see figure).





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What is the F3 controller extension ?

To control the content to be displayed on a flight information monitor Fids3 uses a small software module, the 'F3 controller extension'.

This program is an extension of the free Firefox browser and enables the browser to communicate with the Fids3 server and forces it to display certain information pages on request. It also switches to 'Full Screen' mode, hides the mouse cursor etc., so that it isn't revealed to the public that a browser is rendering the flight information displayed on the LCD monitors screen behind the scenes.


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Does fids3.com supply LCD monitors ?

No. It makes no sense to buy e.g. Samsung LCD monitors in Germany and ship them around the world. This would make things complicated (custom guidelines, spares, maintenance, time loss) and more expensive (shipment, our profit margin and handling costs). They are available in every country in the world and best is to contact a local Samsung dealer for delivery and technical support.

For more information refer to our hardware document.

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Does fids3.com supply F3 controllers PCs ?

Yes, we do for smaller projects.

We provide approved, ready-to-run prepared video controller PCs equipped with OS (Ubuntu Linux OS), the latest Firefox browser and our F3 controller extension.
These small PCs can be mounted 'piggyback' on the monitors back side or on the wall behind the monitor. They are delivered with HDMI/DVI cabling (1m), local power cable/socket as well as fastening material and mounting frame.

For more information refer to our hardware document.


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Can I install the 'F3 controller extension' on self-supplied PC hardware ?

Yes, you can. The 'F3 controller extension' is coming without extra charge together with the Fids3 system. Due to minimum hardware requirements provided by us, you can supply your own PCs to install the Firefox browser and the F3C extension on it. This option gives you freedom and independence. A step-by-step installation guide for the installation of the F3 controller extension is provided by us as well.

For more information refer to our hardware document.

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Can I install the F3 controller on the back of the monitor ?

Yes, you can. The controller PC is normally fastened on the back of the monitor (piggyback). The controller supplied from fids3.com is coming with a standard VESA mounting plate. This can be used to fasten the controller as piggyback or on the wall behind the monitor. Compared to an embedded PC this solution has the benefit of technically independence. If the customer is unsatisfied with the quality of the LCD monitor brand, he can exchange it without buying a new hard-embedded controller PC as well.

For more information refer to our hardware document.

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Does fids3.com provide/install network infrastructure ?

No, this has preferable to be done by any local, on-site company. There are no special requirements to the Fids3 system to the network. The Fids3 server can be added to any existing airport's Intranet (LAN). Also the 'F3 controller' PCs which are equipped with a network adapter have just to be connected to the network. All existing PCs in the network can be used to communicate with the Fids3 server if they are equipped with a browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer etc.).

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Are there special network requirements for Fids3 installation ?

No, the Fids3 server and F3 controller PCs can be added to any existing airports Ethernet LAN. The communication protocols are TCP/IP and HTTP which is the standard protocols for today's Intranet/Internet world (see network sample diagram). If there are special security requirements, the Fids3 network can be isolated, but this is just a technical detail and influences not the functionality of the Fids3 system itself. Also the choice of network topology with its components (switches, hubs, WLAN, etc.) is just a technical decision relevant under reliable/performance aspects but not for the Fids3 communication itself. In any case fids3.com provides consulting and installation/commissioning support for it.

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Do I need any special client software/hardware to use Fids3 ?

No, adding a Fids3 server to an existing airports network enables all existing PCs in the network to communicate with Fids3 just using any HTML browser. This reduces costs and hardware requirements for the airports customer. It is also of strategically interest due to independence aspects. The HMI (Human Machine Interface) of the future will look that way that you can control/use several application with the browser tool, each from a separate tab (tabbed browsing).

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What about security ? Can everyone access the system ?

No, the browser is just the technical requirement to contact the Fids3 server. Before using/manipulating it you have to authenticate with user ID and password. Depending on the user's authorization roles he is permitted to see and/or change certain data in the system. Fids3 provides admin features/services for creation and manipulation of users and authorization roles.



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Can we install the Fids3 server in a 19" Inch rack ?

Yes, normally we recommend Hewlett Packard Proliant servers. We made very good experiences with this kind of servers and they are available as 19" rack and tower models in a wide range of performance variations.









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What is about installation ?

The installation of the cabling, network components and configuration, monitor mountings, routers, switches, Internet access configuration etc. has preferable to be done by a local computer dealer or integrator company. Installation support/consulting will be provided by us.

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What is about commissioning ?

If the network is in place and all monitors mounted and connected (power, network), the commissioning of a Fids3 system is an easy task. A system configured read-to-run by us will run immediately after connecting it to the network. This job normally can be done by the company installing and configuring the network. This is the partner we have to communicate to in the process of commissioning on-site and/or from remote. So, commissioning support is provided by us.

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What is about training ?

Training is provided by us. It can be done on-site after successful installation/commissioning or in advance in Germany as part of a factory acceptance test using the original server(s) and F3 video controllers.





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What is about documentation ?

Documentation is provided as online manuals (PDF format). The following manuals are provided:
  • User's Guide (Full system description)
  • Operator's Cookbook (Quick reference for common operator's tasks)
  • Administrator's Cookbook (Quick reference for common administrator's tasks)
  • F3C step-by-step installation manual
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Does Fids3 contain a Page Designer Tool ?

Fids3 is a system of a new technological generation and 100% browser-based. Our system hasn't any classic, proprietary designer tool because all display layouts are HTML pages. This enables the use of any common HTML page designer/editor tool. We at Fids3 use ‘HTMLPad 2011’ software for monitor layout design process.





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Do we need any image software to operate Fids3 ?

If you are going to change/add your airline logos by yourself, the only thing you need is any image manipulation software. There are a lot of free products available in the Internet (e.g. the free Gimp). This software can be used to create and scale airline logos, weather icons etc.

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Can I add/change own airline logos ?

Fids3 normally uses airline logos of the following sizes
  • 200x50 pixels (small)
  • 300x75 pixels (medium)
  • 600x200 pixels (big)
  • 1000x300 pixels (XXL)
The Fids3 system provides functionality which enables you to upload new or changed logos using any browser. So an upload could be done even from a smartphone or any other mobile device (e.g. iPad). New uploaded logos will be used by the system immediately and on-the-fly.

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How can I add/change monitor display layouts ?

The Fids3 administrator can easily change the display layout of a certain monitor just by choosing a new one from a combo box. The new layout will be used by the system on-the-fly without any need of rebooting the application.




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Does Fids3 support communication links to external systems ?

Fids3 is designed to communicate with any external system (e.g. SITA, CUPPS, PA, Web servers etc.). It can easily be interfaced with other airport systems and applications (e.g. SITA, CUPPS, PA, Web servers).

The modular design and its generically software structures allows the Fids3 system to integrate any remote software system with very limited effort.


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Can Fids3 drive other display devices e.g. Splitflap or LCD/LED boards ?

Fids3 is designed to drive exotically display devices as well. The programming/configuration effort to add a new handler component is limited. Due to our experience we have the know-how and skills to control a wide range of existing devices (e.g. Solari and Conrac split flap, AEG Geavision LCD, DZine Video Controller, Velec Dot-Matrix, Leurocom LED etc.).

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Can we add more monitors/displays in a future step ?

Yes, Fids3 can be scaled and isn't limited to any number of monitors. Just resources and power of the server hardware and the operating system are the limits. More monitors means more parallel work for the Fids3 server. So, the individual situation (system behavior, response times etc.) has to be analyzed and the server hardware (speed, number/kind of processors, memory) has to be chosen/upgraded if necessary.

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Can we extend the number of client workstations in a future step ?

Yes, the license limit has to be adjusted. The Fids3 system limiting the number of client workstations the system can be used from. An extended license file can easily send by email and uploaded to the Fids3 server at runtime.

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How will a license upgrade be handled ?

If a license is upgraded, you will receive the license file by email. The Fids3 administrator portal provides a functionality you can use to upload the new license file at runtime to the Fids3 server.


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Is an Internet connection compulsory to run Fids3 ?

No, it isn't compulsory to connect the Fids3 servers running inside the airports Intranet to the Internet. But if you decide to use the following features of the system the Fids3 servers need Internet connection.
  • Weather Data Access (METAR))
  • Server time synchronization from Internet
  • SMS/Email Alerting/Flight status tracking
  • Webserver uploading and synchronization
  • Google Translator Service (needs a Google license key)
  • Internet remote browser client access (e.g. Headquarter Airports Authority', Smartphones)
  • Fids3 Remote maintenance/access (VPN-Clients)
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What happens if the Internet provider/connection temporary fails ?

In this case Fids3 continues its operation normally. Just the services/features which need Internet access will fail (e.g. Weather Server Connection). Fids3 will detect this failures, logs it to the server log and automatically reconnects if available again (also the return of communication contact is logged).

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Are foreign character sets supported ?

Fids3 uses the so-called UTF-8 character set

‏汉语漢語
‏اللغة العربية
ราชอาณาจักรไทย


which is provided by all common browsers (see above). This character set is able to display every character of the world (in summary more than 30.000 characters). In the operating system (e.g. Windows XP) the support of this character set must be activated and you need the right keyboard (can also be a virtual one) to be enabled to type in the appropriate characters and store it in the Fids3 database. Fids3 uses this UTF-8 character set for airport names, airline names, remark texts, check-in class and free form texts and some other usages.

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Is 2-language page switching (e.g. Arabic/English) supported ?

Yes, the F3 controller extension provides it (see example). Up to 16 pages can be switched in a certain time interval (can be set commonly or individually for every video controller from the administrator's GUI).

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Does Fids support clustered monitor pages ?

Yes, you can cluster pages on one monitor (logical clustering with page switching) or on different monitors (physical clustering). In case of physically clustering the Fids3 software takes the failure of one of more monitors of the cluster into consideration. In this scenario the most topical information pages are displayed (by re-arrangement of the logical pages) on the remaining (still working) monitors of the cluster (intelligent clustering).

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Is foreign language freetext (e.g. Arabic) input supported ?

Yes, e.g. Check-In page layouts can contain foreign language class texts and/or multi-line free text which can be entered/changed by the airline staff. The text (e.g. English and Arabic) will be scrolled in a certain, predefined area of the check-in counter. Due to the customer requirements individual page layout definitions can be prepared (see example).

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Are there individual Check-In page layouts for airlines possible ?

For certain airlines individual counter layouts can be configured and stored. So you can prepare individual layouts with specific classes for e.g. Saudi Arabian airlines and other airlines. A Check-In counter control feature provided by Fids3 automatically detects if e.g. a Saudi Airline Flight has assigned to the counter and offers automatically just the layouts belonging to the appropriate airline and the common ones in a check box for simple One-Click selection by the Airline staff. Another nice option is to prepare foreign language class and free texts attached to the airline layout. E.g. for Chinese people traveling with Chinese airlines you could also prepare Chinese class or free texts. All common web browsers support UTF-8 and all character sets available in the world, so you can use it to enter different character sets from the same operator PC (e.g. at the counter). The demonstrated scenario is a very good service to the passengers and show the professionalism and customer friendliness of an airport.

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Can we advertise on monitors ?

Fids3 contains integrated digital signage capabilities. Comprehensive explanations you find here.


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How many monitors can I connect to Fids3 ?

Fids3 isn't limited by design. Due to the number of logical displays and physically clients it automatically creates parallel working tasks (threads) to speed up performance. Parallel to that the server hardware has to be dimensioned to the right size (number/kind of processors, memory, speed etc.).

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How many client/staff workstations can I connect to Fids3 ?

Fids3 isn't limited by design. Due to the number of logical displays created by the connected clients (staff/operators) and the configuration of the system in balance with the hardware (number of processors etc.) Fids3 creates parallel working tasks (threads) to speed up performance.

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Can Fids3 serve Internet-connected flight information displays ?

Yes, Fids3 is predestined for that. Due to its non-compromising affiliation of the Internet/Browser/HTML/AJAX technology the airport can provide Hotels, Car Rentals, Airlines, Service Agents etc. with real-time flight information. The customer just needs a LCD monitor screen and a F3 controller connected to the Internet. Just try the links below to get an idea how it could look (If you use the Firefox browser 3.6 or better just press F11 key to toggle your screen to full-screen mode)
Screens can be also multi-paged, so a thinkable scenario could be a LCD monitor hanging at a car rental counter showing actual departure flight information switching with any 'special offer' pages.

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Is Fids3 available in a Hot-Standby Version ?

Yes, it is. A virtual IP address is used. Primary and Secondary server have their individually physical IP addresses and only the actual Primary server is assigned to it. The hard disk of the Secondary server will be completely mirrored at any time. For observation and mirroring a dedicated network cross-over connection will be used to get technically independent from the rest of the network (e.g. switches) and to maximize speed.

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