HOW TO: work on playlists and schedules from different computers ?

When you create a program schedule, you may have different people working on different parts of the schedule. For example you may have one person responsible for the advertisement playlists and another person responsible for sports. Using OnTheAir Manager several people can work on the same schedule. Here is how.


Case 1 : you only want to work on some playlists but not on the whole schedule

1. Install OnTheAir Live

The easiest to do is to install OnTheAir Live (available at no charge) on all of the computers that will need to build playlists. All users will then be able to make playlists on their Mac and will be able to see the media available on the broadcast Node.

2. Change the default password of OnTheAir Node for more security

Make sure that you change the default password on your Node so that users will not be able to change what is playing or start playlists by mistake. They will only be able to drag media into playlists.

3. Build playlists and save them on a shared storage

Unlike OnTheAir Manager which stores its playlists in a database, OnTheAir Live playlists are simple .vpls documents (the same as  OnTheAir Video and OnTheAir Video Express playlist documents) that you save on your disk.

Make sure that the users save their playlists on a shared storage so that the OnTheAir Manager computer can have access to them.

4. Import playlists into OnTheAir Manager

Once the playlist is ready to be added to the schedule, just go in OnTheAir Manager and select the menu "File > Import OnTheAir Playlist....", then select the .vpls document(s) that you want to import. Note that:

  • you can also import playlists created by OnTheAir Video or OnTheAir Video Express
  • you can import multiple playlists at once.
  • If a playlist with the same name already exists, a number will be appended to the newly imported playlist
  • All files in the playlist must reside in one of the Media folders of the currently selected Node and schedule. If one of the files is not in the existing media folders, the import will be canceled. If you want to see which file was refused, start the application "Console" and check in the logs.


Case 2: you want to import playlists from a third party software

1. Make sure that your software can export playlists as a simple ASCII text file

A text playlist is the most simple playlist. It consists of a text document which contains the full path of each file separated by a carriage return. It will look like this:






Note that you can add nested playlists to a text playlist simply by adding a line that starts with "@", then the name of the playlist







2. Make sure that the text encoding is properly configured

When you export from your third party software, the text may be encoded in one of several formats. OnTheAir Manager can import most text encodings, just go to the Preferences and in the General tab, choose the correct "Text Encoding" format.


3. Import the playlist into OnTheAir Manager

This procedure is the same as for Case 1 (importing .vpls playlists), the only difference being that you must select the menu "File > Import Text Playlist...", also make real sure that the paths are correct and that there are no mistakes as the playlists will be refused if one path is not correct and the file is not within a media folder.



Case 3: you want to work on the complete schedule from multiple computers



OnTheAir Manager allows you to access the database from multiple computers BUT ONLY ONE USER AT A TIME! You will not be able to modify the same database (which includes all your different schedules) from different computers simultaneously. When one user is working on it, the other user will not be able to get access to it.

1. Copy the "OnTheAir Manager Local DataSource" folder to a shared storage

The "OnTheAir Manager Local DataSource" folder is where all the playlists and schedules are saved (make sure to backup that folder frequently). By default, it is saved to the users Document folder.

If you already worked with OnTheAir Manager and built schedules, it will be important that you copy the whole database to a shared storage so that another computer can access it.

2. Select a new location for your database or create a new one

When you start OnTheAir Manager, hold down the "alt" key and wait for this window to open up:


You can see that it shows you where the database is currently located. If you are not sure of what you are doing, you can still click on the Quit button, but otherwise you have 2 choices:

  • Create New...: if you want to start up fresh or didn't work with OnTheAir Manager, you can select a new location for your database and OnTheAir Manager will create a new empty database
  • Choose Database: if you copied your database to a shared storage, click on "Choose Database..." so you keep all the work you have previously done.

Repeat the "Choose Database..." operation on all the computers that will need to get access to the database.

Once done, you do not need to repeat the process.

3. About the "Force Access" warning

We said previously that only one user can modify the database (work on schedules, etc...) at once. IF another user tries to start OnTheAir Manager, he will see a warning :


If the user clicks on "Quit", then OnTheAir Manager will immediately quit. But if he clicks on "Force Access", then he will gain access to the database and the other user will loose the access to it and he will see the same warning window allowing him to also "Quit" or "Force Access".

Be very careful with that database sharing and make frequent backups of the database as if it gets corrupted, you will loose all your schedules, playlists, clip in/out points, etc...

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  • Avatar
    Richard Raaijmakers

    I'm a little confused. The On The Air Manager manual states that if you want to use a shared database you have to purchase On The Air Server.

    Then you are entitled to install as many On The Air Manager clients. But this article assumes you can use a shared database without Server.

    Now, we don't have purchased On The Air Server, but like to use 2 machines from where I can modify our schedule. One from home (connected through VPN), and one at our TV station.

    I don't know if that is possible.


  • Avatar
    Softron Support (EU)

    The manual is wrong.  When we came out with OnTheAir Node and OnTheAir Manager, we intended to release OnTheAirServer.  It would have been priced so that it was the equivalent of four or more Managers.  But most of our customers only wanted to use two Managers not four or more.  So we scrapped the idea of the Server and built the ability to allow multiple users to share the schedule but only allow one at a time to make entries - which is what most people wanted.  Long story short - if you want two Machines to modify the schedule, you need two Managers.  You share the same database etc. like everything indicated above.  Sorry for the confusion.


    Mike Skibra

    Business Development Manager

  • Avatar
    Richard Raaijmakers

    Thanks Mike. It's clear now. 

    I still need an On The Air Manager license for every client that connects to the Node (we have one Node)?


  • Avatar
    Softron Support (EU)

    No - and yes.  

    You can use OnTheAir Node with OnTheAir Live.  OnTheAir Live is the  playlist application that we provide at no charge.  It can be downloaded from the website and duplicated on as many systems as your wish.  Anyone on the network with access to the Node can use it.  So that is a client, it is free, and it can use the Node.

    OnTheAir Manager is a different thing al together.  It is a comprehensive scheduling application that is designed for 24/7/365 scheduling and control of one or more Nodes.  Normally there is only one person who creates and maintains the schedule, and as I said - in our experience a maximum of two.  If you want to use more - fine.  But do you really want to have that many people sending the daily, weekly, monthly or yearly schedule to the Node.

    OnTheAir Live can create Playlists that Manager can import.  We usually see people other than the Manager user creating playlists using the same media that the Node uses so that the Node can import the playlists into Manager.  


    Clear now?





  • Avatar
    Richard Raaijmakers

    That's clear.

    At our local TV station there are at the moment 2 people who work with On The Air Manager. We change our schedule once a week, and it's either him or me.

    But, we both have a Mac at home, and a VPN connection to the TV station. So it would be really convenient to use On The Air Manager on our home Mac (only when connected through VPN, otherwise On The Air Manager would not see the Shared Database).

    Do we need 2 extra On The Air manager licenses to achieve this?

  • Avatar
    Softron Support (EU)

    Hi Richard,


    This is one of the reasons many people purchase dongle licenses for our other applications.  But because of the nature of Manager, we see more often that people use two licenses.  Sometimes their work overlaps - and they just assume control of the schedule and pass it bac.  With a dongle you would have to literally drive across town to hand off the dongle.  Convenience sometimes costs money.