Written by Mike Newton, EVA Customer Success Team
As I configured our new Windows 10 Surface Pro 4 to run the EVA Visitor Management System in Chrome at our own reception, I came across a few challenges and a few tips and tricks as well. What I have learnt can be applied to a variety of scenarios where you need to run a web app (an app running in the browser) in full screen kiosk mode, so I thought I’d share my learnings with the world – hopefully it will make your life just that little bit easier…
I’ll start with the most basic but arguably the most important tip…
1. Update Update Update!
Under one of my old positions I looked after the IT for a school. This included a bulk of BYOD Surface Pro devices to look after. Very quickly I found that Surface Pros out of the box came with a raft of bugs around power management, sleep and performance.
The good news is that Microsoft had already fixed most of these by that point! The problem laid in that they had not run their Windows Updates to remove these bugs. Therefore my first and foremost recommendation is to make sure your Windows Updates are up to date. You will be amazed at the difference it makes.
2. How do we turn off those pesky swipe gestures?
Windows 10 side swipe on a touch screen, although a neat feature, is not terribly useful when you are trying to run a full-screen web application for public use. With a touch a possibly malicious individual is able to pull up your action centre, open your settings and change whatever they want without you even knowing. I spent the better part of a day searching for a way to turn this off via attempting registration key changes and local group policies mentioned in articles across the web. They sounded relevant and logical but they didn’t work!
Then in one of the articles I came across the statement: “The Windows 10 swipe gestures are controlled by Windows Explorer.” Fortunately we do not need Windows Explorer to run our web app.
So I replaced the shortcut setup to open the EVA web app in Google Chrome on login with a batch file that first kills Windows Explorer before opening EVA in full screen. Suddenly the only interface left was our Visitor Sign-in Kiosk. Exactly what we needed.
3. What about Chrome pinch to zoom?
Now that we’ve cleared out the Windows 10 gestures, you’ll notice you can still pinch to zoom and drag to navigate. These gestures are controlled by Chrome and can be disabled by adding the following switch to your Google Chrome shortcut: “--disable-pinch --overscroll-history-navigation=0”
If you take this route, make sure you pop the batch file in your startup folder so it starts right away when logging in: c:\users\%username%\desktop\appdata\roaming\. Otherwise if you have multiple kiosks, you can put the file in a shared location and place a shortcut into each user account’s startup folder.
The exact script I used is below: StartEVA.bat
taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
start "" "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe" "https://my.evareceptionist.com/client" --kiosk --disable-pinch --overscroll-history-navigation=0
If at any point you need access to explorer again, plug a keyboard in and hit Ctrl + Alt + Delete and open Task Manager. Then click file > Run and type in “Explorer” before hitting enter. Most remote management software have the capability of emulating Ctrl + Alt + Del if required also.
4. Install remote management software
Down the road if you need to get onto the Surface Pro and make changes or maintain it and it is tight packed into a solid Surface Pro bracket like ours, you are going to regret that you didn’t implement a quality remote management software.
We currently use ConnectWise Automate which is great in that it sends alerts if something happens, such as the Surface is working too hard or is full all of a sudden. But for the purpose of this blog, it’s the ConnectWise Control software that really comes in handy. This allows us to remote onto the computer at any given time and connect to the current session. We can also blank out the screen so anyone passing by can’t see what’s being done. Another product I’ve had positive experience with that has a similar remote management capacity is TightVNC, and it’s free.
5. Don’t waste time logging it back in
Occasionally the kiosk needs to be turned off. Unless you’re consistently running a UPS or other backup power supply specifically for your EVA Kiosk or other web application. Inevitably some sort of power outage or the like is going to occur. It can be a pain to look for someone that knows the login credentials for the Surface, or to go back and check your documentation or password storage every time this occurs.
I personally like to set up the kiosk user account to automatically log in and circumvent this process altogether. As our Surface Kiosk is domain joined, the process for getting our Surface Pro to log in automatically when it is turned on requires a few tweaks in the registry (always backup the registry before making changes).
We did this by navigating to the following subkey: “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon" and changing the DefaultUsername and DefaultPassword string values to match our user to automatically log in (If either of these keys don’t exist you will need to create them). Then we adjusted the entry “AutoAdminLogin” to “1” and tested the process by restarting the Surface Pro.
If your Surface is not domain joined there is an easier method of automating login that can be found here: https://www.howtogeek.com/112919/how-to-make-your-windows-8-computer-logon-automatically/
Once you’ve gone through the above steps, you should have the following result:
Turn on your Surface Pro > the user is logged in automatically > Windows Explorer is closed automatically > and your EVA (or another) web application is started in full screen
I do hope this saved you a bit of research, trial and error as well as some frustration. If you have a different experience and encounter other unforeseen bugs or have useful tips that I haven’t mentioned, I encourage you to write to us at email@example.com and let us know.