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Major differences between Axis’ old and new browser interfaces

It may not be widely known, but Axis Communications have always had a largely cross-browser capable user interface to their products. This is especially important with network devices such as IP cameras, since the browser is often the initial method of access the device in order to get it set up. A great deal of end-user support has historically been caused by browser and compatibility issues for NW and with this new interface these have dropped off significantly, since browser compatibility is no longer an issue – with Axis cameras at least.

This also means that Axis products have always been accessible on Macs, many mobile devices and in the Linux GUI when competitors’ products have not been. The user interface on their devices has not changed for many years and its similarity across devices in the range made it all the more easy to use. Recently, however, Axis launched an update to their user interface (from firmware version 7 and on) which is a radical departure in terms of user-experience and browser support.

It is fair to say that the majority of other IP-CCTV device manufacturers do not have this cross-browser capability, with many forcing their customers to use the now deprecated Microsoft Internet Explorer browser for either the complete interface or certain components within it. This can open up security issues and often comes with painful and unfriendly installation processes. One manufacturer forces the browser to close without warning when installing their ActiveX control; a very poor experience indeed.

This new interface from Axis builds on the maturity of the previous interface and offers an easier starting point for novices. For example, all key functions are now more logically ordered and accessed from an overlay menu at the bottom of the interface – thus removing the ‘hunt-and-peck’ method previously needed to find a menu item. Sub-menu items are also much more easy to access. In addition, should you need it, the old interface is still retained but offers a disclaimer that it is no longer supported (“Ready for a new Axis experience? We’ve discontinued the classic mode. You can continue using the classic mode, but we can’t give you technical support or guarantee the performance.​”), nor can it be guaranteed to work correctly. However, for old-timers like me this is useful for speed reasons. Access the old interface by hitting one of its URLs such as /operator/tcpip.shtml.

The major changes are

  1. Full cross-browser support – you see the same interface in all browsers – including a native H.264/RTSP player with PTZ that requires no plugins
  2. A coherent brand experience – you know for sure it is an Axis product with the strong Axis branding now introduced
  3. Analytics visualisations are much improved in ‘apps’- visual confirmations work in most browsers natively, where previously these were Internet Explorer (ActiveX) only
  4. Unique tab-based access to major settings – though some advanced elements such as DNS servers, port settings etc remain accessible only though the older interface or Axis’ unique ‘plain config’ option
  5. Light and dark versions of the interface – handy for when the contrast between image and interface is low or high. The dark interface can also reduce eye-strain when using a camera on screen for long periods

Dark and light versions of the interface are now available.

Key settings are now accessed via the ‘settings’ popover and no longer though the ‘setup’ menu.

Comparison between the old and new interfaces ‘settings’ window.

Hooray! No more Internet Explorer and no more ActiveX! This new interface is a major leap forward for Axis users and for the Axis brand and I hope other manufacturers take Axis’ lead and build full cross-browser support into their products. The browser remains the main method most end-users engage to access their devices and that’s not going to change any time soon.

Published on January 23rd, 2018 by Kevin Bowyer

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