[webkit-dev] New feature announcement – Video conferencing and peer-to-peer communication

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Mon May 16 16:15:06 PDT 2011

On Fri, 13 May 2011, Eric Seidel wrote:
> On the surface "peer to peer video conferencing" does not seem like 
> something appropriate to add to WebCore/WebKit.  Just like "an API for 
> reading my email" is out of scope for the project.  (But certainly lots 
> of people build such things on top of WebKit.) :)

What people are talking about as "video conferencing and peer-to-peer 
communication" here really are the building blocks for letting people 
build such things on top of the Web platform. The relevant part of the 
HTML spec is basically just these features:

 - A way to get input from the system camera(s) and microphone(s).

 - A way for two peers to connect and exchange data and audio/video 
   streams directly, reusing the widely used ICE, STUN, TURN, and SDP 
   technologies, assuming they have an existing indirect channel.

 - A way to record or display these streams.

Actually deploying a video conferencing system would need far more than 
this. For example, you need identity and presence, which are not part of 
the Web platform but have to be built on top of it. You also need to 
actually implement the "existing indirect channel" mentioned above (e.g. 
using XHR or WebSockets), and you need to provide the STUN and TURN 
servers in the cloud.

The components that are provided by this part of the HTML spec have other 
purposes beyond video conferencing; for example you can use the access to 
local camera and microphones for augmented reality tools, you can use the 
peer-to-peer component for exchanging real-time game state data in a video 
game, and you can use the recording component for recording video blogs.

The parallel to e-mail apps is apt: it is much like how the platform 
provides XHR, input controls, and local storage, all necessary components 
for an e-mail app, but does not provide an "e-mail app" component; and the 
components it does provide can be similarly reused in other contexts.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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