Real Time Communications Featured Article

DIY WebRTC - It's Not That Hard

February 13, 2015

Real time communications (RTC) used to be daunting.  Proprietary codecs, dedicated programmers, expensive upfront costs of closed-code systems, servers and licensing to deal with those closed-code systems, lots of money and time simply to add voice onto a web page.  Multiple by a factor of 3 or more to get to a cost estimate for incorporating videoconferencing.  WebRTC tools enable any business of almost any size to "Do it yourself" (DIY) with WebRTC at minimal cost and expense, with integration of existing voice systems done simply through a WebRTC gateway.




WebRTC is designed for any web designer to add voice, video, screen sharing, and other RTC features to any webpage in short order, without proprietary packages and plenty of programming.  Access to voice and video is handled natively through most browsers today, with Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opus already supporting it.  Microsoft is in the process of adding WebRTC support to Internet Explorer and its forthcoming lean, mean Spartan browser, leaving Apple as the biggest sole holdout as of this minute, but even Apple is expected to come into line.

The first part of DIY WebRTC starts with experimentation.  A number of companies offer free -- yes, free --developer access to their WebRTC platform as a service (PaaS) along with software development kits (SDKs) and quick start pre-built applications to start up development.  For example, GENBAND's KANDY platform allows anyone to instantly create an account with access for up to five users.  The Kandy website (www.kandy.io) provides a step-by-step walk through with code for access to WebRTC API services starting at basic user login, demonstrating how to add code for voice calling, user presence, chat, and co-browsing.  Tutorials including documentation and sample applications are all on line to show how to use the Kandy APIs and JavaScript SDKs with standard HTML.

Since the only upfront cost is web developer time, any size business can start experimenting with incorporating WebRTC-based voice, video, presence, chat, screen sharing, and other functions immediately.  GENBAND boasts that anyone can add WebRTC into any application in five minutes or less and has done so in demonstrations.  As a practical matter, it might take an hour or two for web programmers to become comfortable with the ins and outs of Kandy or any other WebRTC PaaS, but not the days it would take to setup proprietary solutions.

Support is also available for integrating WebRTC into customized apps for mobile devices, with both Apple iOS and Google Android supported by the majority of WebRTC PaaS.

Once applications are developed, moving them into production is just as easy.  GENBAND's Kandy and other PaaS services charge on a "pay as you grow" basis, with usage either metered on a per-user basis or at fractions of a penny per WebRTC API service access.   Companies can start out small and pay as more people use the service.

Larger businesses can integrate WebRTC into existing PBX and IP communications services through a gateway.  GENBAND's SPiDR WebRTC gateway allows companies to connect existing PBX, UC and PSTN access into WebRTC, giving the ability to maximize the use of existing infrastructure.  For example, a gateway can be used to direct calls from a company website using WebRTC directly to desktop IP phones, so customers can reach staff directly via the website.   Calls can be directed via web page access, so a website billing inquiry can be directed to the accounting department while sales people get customer inquiries in real time.

The biggest attraction to WebRTC is that it is an easy, affordable DIY for web programmers and IT staff, with the heavy lifting handled by services such as GENBAND Kandy managing all of the backend plumbing.  Perhaps the only reason not to use WebRTC is if your application doesn't need real time communications capabilities.




Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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