This blog is wholly constructed to provide firm guidance on WebRTC. Well-drafted and collectively merged by developers, this written volume makes a layman orient with the concept from the beginning. It consists of data and activities which make the WebRTC concept desirable to work with, at all times.
This Blog is drafted with several protocols and APIs explained in a homely manner. Nothing to elaborate on softwares, it is an uncomplicated summary of the RFC. The reader will enjoy many undocumented knowledge in easy-to-understand terms.
This conceptualized writing is curated with a set of dignified theories for the developers to make WebRTC more predictable and simple to acknowledge. We have classified the reader community into some divisions
- An individual who is curious about the webRTC technology
- A novice developer completely new to the concept of WebRTC
- A developer who is aware of what is WebRTC and wants to dig into a deeper knowledge
- A developer looking for a solution to a specific part of webRTC
- An evident implementer who wants clarity to debug
This blog believes in a well-defined explanation of the set of theories involved in WebRTC. It is not a tutorial and does not contain many codes. As mentioned above, the blog makes full efforts for the readers to make them avail the best knowledge.
What is WebRTC?
"WebRTC" (Web Real-Time Communication) is an open-source protocol that allows real-time communication and data sharing between different browsers and devices. It allows sharing of voice, video, and data over the web. It is a protocol that sets two-way communication between two browsers in real-time.
WebRTC is an amazing specification that sets communication without the need of setting up any external installation or plug-ins. With negligible latency, webRTC stimulates exchanging of data from two different sources. This open-source protocol is majorly supported by all browsers.
WebRTC enabled remote peer-to-peer connection by voice and video chats make corporate and cultural functioning simpler being distant too. It has been one of the most important tools for communication and data sharing currently. Have you ever wondered how virtual interactions function with the help of WebRTC? Let’s understand.
How does WebRTC work?
WebRTC works on three primary components to initiate a peer-to-peer interaction effectively. These components have independent and crucial roles to play in the webRTC specification.
A) Media Stream
Media Stream is an API that provides a way to access the camera and microphone of the device. It controls the multimedia activities of the device over the data consumed. The Media stream looks after the information of the device concerning capturing and rendering media. Ideally, it supports audio and video data streaming through the devices.
B) Peer Connection
WebRTC has all been developed to establish a peer-to-peer connection through the web. RTC peer connection has the primary objective of creating direct communication without the aid of any intermediary connection. Peers can even acquire or consume the media, specifically the audio and the video, and also produce it.
C) Data Channel
RTC data channel helps to create a bi-directional transfer of arbitrary data between peers. This works on SCTP (Stream Control Transmission Protocol). To reduce congestion on the networks like UDP, a data channel is designed. It ensures reliable delivery of stream over the web.
The steps involved in establishing communication through webRTC
WebRTC protocol is a collection of several technologies that combine up to set one secured communication over the web. There are some steps involved to build up the framework.
These steps happen sequentially and only on completion of the preceding step fully, the next step can be commenced. All these steps are made up of a set of several protocols. A combination of these protocols makes one step. Similarly, a combination of several other protocols is required to integrate the following steps. We can say that developing webRTC is an extensive theory and also difficult to understand.
Let us understand how each step has its importance, and how each preceding step matters to get along to the next step and develop the audio and video calls for a device.
Signalling refers to setting up and controlling a communication session. The peers connecting to a real-time communication send their stream to the server, which the server encodes and delivers to the receiving peer.
This communication can be bi-directional. The source encodes the stream and sends them in a suitable resolution to another peer. Signalling uses an SDP protocol which is in a plain-text format, containing the lists of media sections. It exchanging several details between the peers.
- The location of the peers, which is the IP Address of both the agents.
- The consuming audio and video tracks that an agent comes across
- The producing audio and video tracks which an agent transfers
- The data channels that determine the media type with a resolution exchange
Signalling allows peers to exchange metadata for a coordinated communication. An app consuming the webRTC technology requires browser support, but beneath the line, the browsers communicate through the signals they send to the servers. This is the role of signalling. It helps the server in sending and receiving data, making direct communication between the peers through the STUN and TURN servers.
Connecting refers to securing a bi-directional communication between two peers. In webRTC, communication happens to be in P2P connection, rather than the client-server connection. The connection is equally distributed among the two communicating agents through their transport addresses.
In general terms, it can be said that establishing communication can be a difficult task due to different network protocols or transport addresses of the peers. These difficulties make the setup difficult, but can be solved by the ICE and NAT protocol servers.
ICE servers- ICE is a protocol that tries to find out the best possible way to connect two agents or peers. Each ICE agent publishes its reachable known as candidates. These candidates ate nothing but the transport address of the agent to reach the other connecting agent.
ICE ensures the best possible connection between the two peers even if the location of the two is difficult to connect. For these difficulties to get solved in an efficient way it uses two servers, STUN and TURN.
STUN- STUN is an acronym for Standard Traversal Utilities for NAT. These lightweight servers allow webRTC to find their public IP address by making Stun server requests. These protocols work with NATs to programme NAT Mappings.
These servers make an effort towards mapping and allowance to share them with others, to generate traffic by the reversal of the mapping you shared with other agents. It also helps to obtain the IP of the public networks, allowing sharing of media between the peers with the help of ICE agents.
TURN- TURN is an acronym for Traversal Using Relays around NAT. TURN servers help to establish connections between two agents when a direct connection between two agents is not possible due to firewall restrictions.
This can be a situation when the two agents serve higher incompatibility or maybe they do not rely on the same protocol. These servers are used to work up with the privacy of the agents by not letting the servers locate the IP of the communicators. TURN creates a temporary IP for the agents to generate traffic to and fro, acting as a proxy.
WebRTC ensures security. It ensures that all the communication shared between the two agents are encrypted and remains confidential with any third party. It has two pre-existing protocols, namely, DTLS and SRTP. these two protocols make sure that the connection is secured and encrypted within the two agents and it does not assist in any malware.
DTLS- Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) allows webRTC to establish a secured and encrypted communication between two peers. The client and the server to communicate, need a agree on certain values known as ciphers in a DTLS handshake. To secure the data streams of the peers, DTLS is required.
SRTP- SRTP is an acronym for Secure Real-time Transport Protocol. It secures and encrypts the media streams between two connecting peers. It is initialized by using keys generated by DTLS. This protocol is specifically designed for encrypting RTP packets.
WebRTC is developed for transferring data, audio and video over the web. This technology allows sharing of unlimited data over the web. It allows a user to make activities such as adding and removing streams anytime over a call. These streams could be bundled together with two core protocols of webRTC communication.
RTC- RTC stands for Real-time Transport Protocol. This protocol is designed to carry real-time delivery of video. It gives the agent streams which can be run over multiple media feeds from one connection. This protocol does not ensure media transfer covers latency and reliability, but it provides a tool to implement them.
RTCP- RTCP is Real-time Control Protocol. It allows administrators to monitor the quality of calls from the collected metadata. This protocol allows an agent to add any metadata they want to communicate the statistics of the call. This protocol also tracks packer loss, latency and other VoIP concerns.
WebRTC ensures all the provisions to establish better connectivity, focusing on;
- Quality over latency
- Authenticity of messages
- Reduced bandwidth cist
- Secured E2E communication
- Coordinating with SDP values and more
For efficient functioning, webRTC requires a dedicated subsystem for connection peer-to-peer. It needs to deal with the above mentioned servers and protocols to make communication equally distributed between the two agents, delivering a better connection. The webRTC protocol looks in for the best delivery of communication.
History of WebRTC
Rapid advancements in technology in the ’90s gave emergence to many new inventions that considerably have become an important source for day-to-day living to carry out activities easily. The evolution of the World Wide Web and text messaging played a crucial role in communication and knowledge orientation.
No sooner, these inventions started to grow strong, there was a need for communication virtually, over video conferencing and meetings. There was a huge demand to connect with people from different places in a shorter span to make work done faster. This was contributed by plug-ins and several installations to make video conferencing possible. This decade also led to the emergence of WebRTC.
WebRTC was initially invented in 1999, by Global IP Solutions (GIPS) in Sweden. WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is an open-source project to enable peer-to-peer communication over the web through APIs. WebRTC later in 2011 was taken over by Google. Since 2011, it has been quite a decade, webRTC has shown a massive uprise.
The GIPS technology on WebRTC was open-sourced by Google in 2011 as a browser-based real-time communication project and kept it for standardization. In 2011, Ericsson used webRTC for implementing its project and further claimed modifications. In the same year, W3C had put forth its final draft for webRTC including the first cross-browser video call in 2013.
2014 was remarkable when it was put to integration with Google Hangouts. Google’s Chrome and other fellow browsers like Firefox, Opera, and more have shown a big thumbs up to this RTC technology.
As webRTC evolved new in real-time communication, several companies made efforts at curating this open-source and also suffered various outcomes. It looks like webRTC has raised concerns for security and privacy in communication and technical data sharing.
The main focus that stood in gearing up webRTC was standardization. Google started working with webRTC developing Gmail Voice and video chat. It was difficult to set up as the components like audio and video required licensing from different companies.
It was a network of several protocols for which knowledge in various fields like networking, media, cryptography, and more was notably important. Meanwhile, there was also the start of the Chrome project by Google which was flooded with terms like WebGL, offline data capabilities, inputs for low latency gaming, and more.
WebRTC was further standardized keeping in mind that the protocols are developed with user privacy and on any mishap, the user data cannot be misused.
Present of WebRTC
This period of rising gave notable signals of an exemplary boost of the term WebRTC. And it has not been a surprise either. Presently, we are experiencing most of our daily communications over the web, and it is all majorly due to one tech frame WebRTC.
The reach is not only limited to peer-to-peer calling or video conferencing, WebRTC has covered and spread its wings up with user privacy and secured data transmission. Now there has been a more genuine reach to developers for webRTC.
WebRTC is a framework of protocols and APIs, it requires no plug-ins or external installations to facilitate real-time communications. This becomes desirable and appealing to put up integrations in the applications and make it easily accessible on mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and other communication devices.
What can be a more genuine approach? WebRTC along with rapid advancements has made it easy and economical for developers to rely on. WebRTC functions with a good internet delivering supreme audio and video quality. Nevertheless, it also consumes low internet data, working with low latency.
Industrie is experiencing massive gains, overpowering its global outreach and brand awareness. The present of the webRTC has come up with an astounding approach towards enhancing communication and is surely going to excel in the future.
WebRTC being an open-source project, developers find it easy to use and modify them as per their needs. They have managed well in developing virtual platforms and applications with customization, security, and easy-to-use API keys, webRTC has become an idealistic approach for the future too.
Future of WebRTC
WebRTC is an open-source platform that can be used and made available to everyone for free use. A lot has changed after the hit of the pandemic. There have been more digital curiosity within people generating innovation.
Real-time communication has made work easier. Though the term and setting up is difficult and exhaustive to understand, the future seems optimistic. Several new launches in webRTC have taken place which will certainly make its identity sustainable for the future too.
I am hopeful that the future will observe new technologies in webRTC with the introduction of 5G expanding the OTT offerings. The foundation of WebRTC is growing stronger by each day and so we can assume that the future is going to be versatile and more efficient.
I see webRTC to play a stronger part in the Telecom industry. The sector will emerge and extend with new technologies through webRTC. Telecoms will advance with interactive chat with clients, and cloud data management.
Cloud computing has already gained massive popularity. Due to increasing internet usage, a huge amount of data needs to be stored. WebRTC has considerably made cloud computing immensely important for the easy functioning of voice and video calls.
The gaming industry has shot up due to webRTC. I believe that webRTC will make the future of game development more intensive. Real-time communication channels could be integrated into gaming applications and instill enjoyment and entertainment on a single application itself.
Benefits of webRTC will also be observed in trade, content, machine learning, backend integrations, and more. I believe that the future is going to observe a rapid increase in use cases of webRTC. New industries will increase and emerge with consistent use of this open-source technology.
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