We have have had many posts on Session Description Protocol (SDP) here at werbrtcHacks. Why? Because it is often the most confusing yet critical aspects of WebRTC. It has also been among the most controversial. Earlier in WebRTC debates over SDP lead the to the development of the parallel ORTC standard which is now largely merging back into the core specifications. However, the reality is non-SDP based WebRTC is still a small minority of deployments and many have doubts this will change any time soon despite its formal acceptance.
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Two weeks ago Microsoft’s Bernard Aboba (and former webrtcHack’s interviewee) gave an update on Edge’s ORTC and WebRTC at the Microsoft Build conference. He covered some big topics including VP8 and WebRTC 1.0 support. You can see the update video at the link above or read the follow-up post for details. Then last week Microsoft announced plug-in free Skype on the Edge browser.
I had some questions; Fippo had some questions; so we asked Bernard if he could publicly respond here. It turned out Bernard and his teammate on the Edge Browser team, Shijun Sun, were building a running list of questions they wanted to address too. Here it is.
webrtcH4cKS: ~ Are we There Yet? WebRTC standards Q&A with Dan Burnett
If you are new to WebRTC then you have missed out on years of drama in the standards bodies over various issues like SDP and codecs. These standards dictate what vendors must implement so they ultimately dictate the industry roadmap. To get a deep perspective and appreciation of the issues, we like to ask Dan Burnett, W3C editor to comment on where we are at with the standardization process. I caught up with Dan at this year’s IIT Real Time Communications Conference and had the more detailed Q&A with him shortly thereafter.
webrtcH4cKS: ~ First steps with ORTC
ORTC support in Edge has been announced today. A while back, we saw this on twitter:
Windows Insider Preview build 10525 is now available for PCs: http://t.co/zeXQJocgLs This release lays groundwork for ORTC in Microsoft Edge
— Microsoft Edge Dev (@MSEdgeDev) August 18, 2015
“This release [build 10525] lays the groundwork for ORTC” was quite an understatement. It was considered experimental and while the implementation still differs from the specification (which is still work in progress) slightly, it already worked and as a developer you can get familiar with how ORTC works and how it is different from the RTCPeerConnection API.
If you want to test this, please use builds newer than 10547. Join the Windows Insider Program to get them and make sure you’re on the fast ring.
webrtcH4cKS: ~ The Microsoft in the Room – IE and WebRTC (or ORTC?)
As WebRTC has matured to a state where it’s first implementations are ready for companies to launch real services around it, the readiness of various companies to adopt WebRTC has fanned out quite a bit. Some are already charging ahead as early adopters, while others are playing it conservative. Of those in the conservative camp, one of the common doubts that gives them pause is: “What about IE?”
When speaking to those interested in WebRTC, but concerned about Internet Explorer (IE), many times we’ve tried to assure them not to worry: our friends in Redmond won’t be too far behind. We often point to the undeniably significant contributions from Microsoft to WebRTC, especially considering that they bring to the table two titans of VoIP industry (Lync and Skype). We highlight some of their early IE WebRTC demos (using beta code) as signs of progress. We’ve rationalized the absence of a Microsoft equivalent to what Chrome and Firefox are shipping, by noting the slower release cycle for IE. However, we’ve come to realize that to some, IE support is a really big deal.
I’m at the IIT RTC Conference this week in Chicago which is an excellent, no-BS conference that featured many WebRTC luminaries and one of best events I have attended in a long time.
On Tuesday I moderated a panel with WebRTC contributors and ORTC promoters, Robin Raymond of Hookflash, Bernard Aboba of Microsoft, and Peter Thatcher of Google, asking many of the same questions I did on the ORTC Q&A several weeks ago.
Dan Burnett was in the room, asking a lot of questions. If you don’t know Dan, he is a long time W3C author and editor. He is also one of the Godfathers of WebRTC who was there right at the beginning. He also has a highly regarded book on WebRTC coauthored with Alan Johnston.
Biggie vs. Tupac. Gates vs. Jobs. Apple vs. Samsung. Nothing catches people’s attention for no legitimate reason like a feud. Unfortunately this isn’t just a celebrity phenomenon. Feuds have been endemic even to real communications as well. From the very beginning, Elisha Gray’s dispute with Alexander Graham Bell over the original telephone patent showed the industry has a propensity for squabbles. Unfortunately we have become so accustomed to feuds that we sometimes fabricate battles that do not really exist. I fear that this is often the case with one of the most important, but misunderstood efforts affecting WebRTC’s future – Object Real Time Communications (ORTC).
Updated 25 Aug 2013 – some minor edits fixing some ORTC API references and added ORTC sample code.
In my post on WebRTC standardization I mentioned that one of the controversial points of discussion in the W3C context was whether the SDP Offer/Answer model and the current API provided the level of flexibility a wide range of WebRTC use cases would require. In order to avoid the endless and repetitive discussions that have already occurred on this topic, developers unsatisfied with the current API have just announced an alternative to the existing WebRTC API. This new proposal is called WebRTC Object API, motivation behind it is presented in this IETF draft and some example code can be found on GitHub. Note that this is not the first time an alternative API aiming to provide more control to web developers has been proposed- Microsoft’s CU-RTC-Web introduced last year took a similar approach by introducing an alternative along with a working prototype.