Is WebRTC cool yet?
Amazon and Facebook are doing it; Microsoft is dreaming about it; even Hollywood has referenced it. It has seen a tremendous increase in popularity in the past few years with the creation of Meetups, dedicated hackathons and services.
The issue here is that WebRTC is not yet a polished technology. At its core, WebRTC is a disruptor to the telephony industry. And like every industry disruptor, it needs constant iteration to get past roadblocks.
So how can developers work together as a community to eliminate these roadblocks? I’ve listed a few of the top things I think need to happen for WebRTC to become what it deserves to be — the most widely used Web API.
Send network operators and telcos to the rescue!
Network operators have resources, and know how to use them to take care of the difficult telco implementations. Network operators should expose the hard VoIP parts (TURN Servers, Gateways, etc.) as APIs for developers to access. This way, web developers can focus on what they do best: integrating APIs. At the same time, this would enable telcos to enhance their API onboarding and developer community interest.
Other non-telco companies, like TokBox Inc. or Twilio Inc. , focus on bringing these features to developers in the form of an end-to-end PaaS served over APIs. Hence, eliminating the headaches web developers would normally go through to launch their service.
Browser vendors get their act together
Big platforms need to advocate for WebRTC
Developers need to know they are not alone in these early days. The big names such as Facebook , Whatsapp, Amazon and Slack, need to vocalize the fact they are actively integrating WebRTC to their services and document their initiatives. Hey, why not open source some of that, too? If they become advocates for the technology rather than being secretive about it then maybe others will stop unmasking them!
The developer community unites!
The developer community all wants the same thing: for WebRTC to be easy. Developers from all over have come up with great initiatives like WebRTC For The Web,” which is an association of developers that build useful tools for the community such as IsWebRTCReadyYet.com. These groups are a great start, and I expect that they will mark the starting point for some of the most exciting WebRTC contributions. In fact, I would love to hear readers’ comments on any positive experiences with these groups to date.
Open source frameworks also play a big role in the community. Projects likepeerJS and simpleWebRTC considerably lower the barriers of WebRTC development and provide an easy way for developers to get started and get advised.
More initiatives like WebRTC Hacks and WebRTC Experiment help foster a sense of “schooling” for the developer community. Why not setup online WebRTC courses on Codecademy or Coursera? Let’s get universities involved in this!
Offline, we’ve seen the rise of TADHack, which are a series of hackathons focused on WebRTC’s role in the telco environment. Events like these provide the perfect environment to learn and collaborate with the best (and with the telco vendors themselves). Also, more “Meetup” groups dedicated to WebRTC are created and we should work hard to promote them to a bigger audience. This is where telcos can step in and leverage their resources to help organize or fund such events.
While it is valuable to have these resources at our disposal, they are starting to pile up and it is becoming difficult to keep up with the various initiatives happening all around the world. As a community, we need to communicate better on a more united channel. At the same time, WebRTC contributors (Google, Mozilla , Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) ,World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) ) have to work to remove the current obstacles so that providing additional resources is not necessary. This way, WebRTC can truly become as easy as WebGL or any other Web API and, more importantly, become just as popular!