DataChannel

All posts tagged DataChannel

The fact that you can use WebRTC to implement a secure, reliable, and standards based peer-to-peer network is a huge deal that is often overlooked.  We have been notably light on the DataChannel here at webrtcHacks, so I asked Arin Sime if would be interested in providing one of his great walkthrough’s on this topic.  He put together a very practical example of a multi-player game.  You make recognize Arin from RealTime Weekly or from his company Agility Feat or his new webRTC.ventures brand. Check out this excellent step-by-step guide below and start lightening the load on your servers and reducing message latency with the DataChannel.

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Unnatural shrinkage. Photo courtesy Flikr user Ed Schipul

Unnatural shrinkage. Photo courtesy Flikr user Ed Schipul

One evening last week, I was nerd-sniped by a question Max Ogden asked:

That is quite an interesting question. I somewhat dislike using Session Description Protocol (SDP)  in the signaling protocol anyway and prefer nice JSON objects for the API and ugly XML blobs on the wire to the ugly SDP blobs used by the WebRTC API.

The question is really about the minimum amount of information that needs to be exchanged for a WebRTC connection to succeed.

 WebRTC uses ICE and DTLS to establish a secure connection between peers. This mandates two constraints:

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Ring! Sometimes you need an alert to get your attention. Traditional phone systems make this easy – if someone calls you your phone rings. The traditional telephony model assumes the called device is always on an available to ring and this is how it generally works across analog phones, mobiles, VoIP phones, and even desktop calling replacements like Skype. The challenge in the web model is that you can no longer assume the remote device is available to run your program’s ring command. Even if the called party has a browser open, it does not mean they have a tab running your app.  This means you need to find some other means of telling the called party to go to your URL. That can be limiting for a lot of apps. Fortunately there are solutions for this.

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Want to try out a newly released WebRTC feature or capability? Odds are Muaz Khan has already done it. I cannot think of any other individual who has contributed more open source WebRTC application experiments to the community than Muaz and his webrtc-experiment.com. His GitHub repository boasts 44 different projects.

He did all that in less than 2 years and he is just getting started. What is even more amazing is Muaz had done all this with very limited resources from a remote village. He doesn’t event have electricity for large portions of the day in some months!

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As WebRTC implementations and field trials evolve, field experience is telling us there are still a number of open issues to make this technology deployable in the real world and the fact that we would probably do some things differently if we started all over again. As an example, see the recent W3C discussion What is missing for building (WebRTC) real services or Quobis‘ CTO post on WebRTC use of SDP.

Tim Panton, contextual communications consultant at Westhawk Ltd,  has gone through some of these issues. During the last couple of years we had the chance to run some workshops together and have some good discussions in the IETF and W3C context. Tim’s expertise is very valuable and I thought it would be a good idea to have him here to share some of his experiences with our readers. It ended up as a rant.

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