Real-Time for Everyone: Thoughts on WebRTC 1.0
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One of the more ambitious new web technologies is WebRTC (Real-Time Communications), whose spec explains itself as follows:
The W3C Working Draft was published last week, which means that the client side of the project is beginning to gather some momentum. The infrastructure-side is heating up, too -- just one week before the Working Draft release, Ericsson posted an opinion piece entitled 'WebRTC: The democratization of the communications industry', which included this strongly-worded paragraph:
Do you remember a time before web pages? To do anything in IT you had to be a boffin professional with special access. Then along came the web and everybody’s child could put up a website. If you see that as the democratization of the IT industry, WebRTC is the democratization of the communications industry.
Their reasoning? Without WebRTC, real-time communication is, at best, a second-class citizen in the web development world.
So browser-as-platform marches on. Vladimir Sedach observes:
To step back in terms of commentary, the web browser has now come full circle to being a very weird virtualized operating system, whose APIs rival Windows in size, idiosyncrasies and complexity. The need for application hosting declines...
(Read more of Vladimir's commentary for additional interesting thoughts about WebRTC vs. hosted apps.)
While a version of WebRTC had already been implemented in Chrome Canary and (partly) Opera Labs, Chrome's implementation was, until recently, substantially different from the W3C Editor's Draft -- which makes sense, I suppose, since the framework was originally developed by Global IP Solutions, which Google acquired in 2011. Now, however, the Chrome and Working Draft APIs have grown substantially more similar.
If the technology grips your dev-brain, dive into the API and see what you think. Or try this page, for a schematic and bird's-eye view of the architecture.
And for much more coverage, including a useful FAQ, check out webrtc.org -- which also maintains a blog on WebRTC development (and is also supported by Mozilla and Opera, as well as Google), for status updates.
What do you think? Will you use WebRTC? -- and is it really as 'disruptive' as some of these enthusiasts are saying?
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