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What is WebRTC and When to Use it?

WebRTC stands for web real-time communication. Today we want to cover cases in which such technology can be a useful feature to implement in your outsourced software development.

WebRTC technology is a free open source project which can be used by everyone to implement the web real-time video conversation technology into their project. By implementing WebRTC you can establish stable communication tool in browser without any additional software or plugins.

WebRTC was introduced in 2011 by Google. At first if offered real time communication only through Flash and plugins, but after two years of development it has become independent strong cross browser audio & video communication tool.

How does WebRTC work?

WebRTC connection diagram

The most of the video and audio communication systems are usually based on the C/C++ and it can take you many months of development to establish a stable working connection. WebRTC instead uses Javascript API layer that you can use right through your browser. While WebRTC as a technology is still written on C/C++ languages, there is no need for your developers to dig deep into the code and structure of it because of its javascript based integrity. WebRTC works with most of the modern browsers and allows the access to devices,and screen sharing in real time. If you are looking for video and audio communication technology for your outsourced software development project or startup you should definitely choose WebRTC as a main technology.

Like any other technology out there, WebRTC has its advantages and disadvantages, that you must be aware of before making any plans on WebRTC-based development product or service.

The main advantages of WebRTC:

  1. High communication quality thanks to modern video codecs (VP8 and H. 264) and audio codecs (Opus).
  2. Quality automatically adjusts to any types of connection.
  3. Noise reduction and echo cancellation built-in support.
  4. Automatic microphone sensitivity (AGC) control for all participants.
  5. High level of security: all connections are protected (HTTPS) and encrypted (SRTP).
  6. Built-in content capture mechanism (e.g. desktop sharing).
  7. Could be embedded into any HTML5 and/or WebSocket-based interface
  8. Cross-platform ready: all WebRTC application works good on any desktop or mobile operating system provided that your browser supports WebRTC. In this way you can cut software development costs dramatically.
  9. No additional software or plugins installation is required to make a video call

The main disadvantages of WebRTC:

  1. As browsers cannot synchronize multiple incoming streams, you need a video conferencing server for audio and video mixing to run group audio or video conferences.
  2. WebRTC solutions are incompatible with each other. The standard generally applies only to the methods of video and audio transmission, while vendors are free to decide on signalling, messaging, file transfer, conference scheduling and etc.
  3. Group conference mixing and transcoding requires large computing resources. Group video conference support for WebRTC usually requires paid subscription (in case of cloud solutions) or big infrastructure investments, as each conference layout usually requires at least one logical CPU core on the server.

WebRTC API

An application programming interface (API) is a set of subroutine definitions, communication protocols, and tools for software development. In general terms, it is a set of clearly defined methods of communication among various components. Well established API helps to develop a software by providing all the building blocks, which can be used by software developer to deliver the valuable product. With WebRTC API-based JavaScript libraries you can add video conferencing availability into any of your project within short amount of time and minimum efforts.

There are three main categories of APIs that exist in WebRTC:

RTCPeerConnection — by using these APIs you can send the captured stream of audio and video in real-time across the web to another WebRTC endpoint. This can allow you to create a connection between the local machine and a remote peer. It provides methods to connect to a remote peer, maintain and monitor the connection, and close the connection once it’s no longer needed.

RTCDataChannel — these APIs helps you to transmit arbitrary data. Each data channel is associated with an RTCPeerConnection.

Media Capture and Streams — Allows you to Get access to input devices such as the microphone and the web camera. The API allows you to get a stream of media from either of them.

Is commercial use allowed for WebRTC?

Regarding its open-source basis WebRTC is allowed for commercial use. There are already a lot of big projects on the web which are based on the WebRTC technology. For example, here are some of our projects which are based on WebRTC: Conferencing App, Remote Assistance, Video Conferencing Tool.

Does WebRTC require hosting servers?

If you want to establish not only the peer-to-peer based communication but also conferences, media sharing etc. you will need the servers for WebRTC. By hosting dedicated servers you will be able to create large conferentions with big amount of users in real time.

WebRTC is supported by the following desktop browsers:

  • Google Chrome (17+) and all browsers on the Chromium-based technology;
  • Mozilla FireFox (18+);
  • Opera (12+);
  • Safari (11+);

WebRTC compatible mobile browsers:

  • Google Chrome (28+);
  • Mozilla Firefox (24+);
  • Opera Mobile (12+);
  • Safari (11+).
WebRTC compatible browsers

How much does WebRTC development cost?

While the WebRTC technology can be accessed via browser and the source code is completely free you still will need to spend some time and efforts on the development of your outsourced software development product which will contain real time communication technology. Also, unless you have personal servers for hosting such product, it will be required to have cloud dedicated services. You can estimate WebRTC project here. As a company with more than 10 years of software development experience, we have had to deal with different WebRTC outsourced projects with clients from all over the globe. Our expertise in WebRTC allowed us to define the best ways of software development for real time communication products. If you are looking for the right partner to develop your real time communication application by using the WebRTC – we are always looking forward to deliver the best quality coding as well as the project management and quality assurance. 

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