Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) is moving ever closer to standardization, thanks to a joint effort by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the World Wide Web Consortium ( W3C). Christina Mulligan’s recent article for SD Times discussed in depth the work that has gone into the project so far, and what to expect in the future.
As part of the project, the IETF is responsible for the over-the-wire protocols, such as how browsers send and receive data, while the W3C is handling the APIs needed to develop WebRTC applications. Both teams are working toward the same goal, which involves using APIs to access microphones and cameras from within browsers to enable real-time voice and video communication over the web.
Some of these features are already being used, such as in Google Hangouts and Mozilla’s recent announcement of their new WebRTC-powered chat tool, Firefox Hello. But in order for standardization to be considered achieved, there is more that still needs to happen.
“Standardization is a kind of never-ending road, and it is not easy to determine when the destination has been reached,” said Andrew Hutton, co-chair of the International Multimedia Telecommunications Consortium’s WebRTC Interoperability Activity Group. “But certainly in order to declare WebRTC standardization a success, there are a number of different and interoperable implementations needed, and a significant number of Web applications need to be using the APIs.”
A big decision was reached recently, that browsers must support both VP8 and H.264 in order for any browser to be able to establish a video session with other browsers. While most of the core standards should be completed before the end of 2015, that won’t be the end of the work. Possible future additions include object-oriented extensions to WebRTC, which is being called WebRTC 1.1 at the moment.
With billions of existing WebRTC-enabled endpoints across mobile and desktop devices, and a growing community of developers working on new applications, the future is looking very bright for the standardization and mass application of WebRTC.