WebRTC Expert Feature

March 08, 2013

Highlights: WebRTC Meet Up in San Francisco


The San Francisco Meet Up group had a hosted Meet Up the evening of March 7 at the Jive Software offices in SOMA. Denis Mars, founder of meetings.io, which is now part of Jive, hosted the event. 

Overall, there were about 35 attendees, who enjoyed the pizza, soda and beer provided by Jive.  The 21st Amendment Brewery is just two blocks away and was on tap for the meeting. I didn’t find out if there’s a direct pipe from the brewery to the Jive offices!

The meeting kicked off with Anant Narayanan, formerly of Mozilla, now at Firebase doing an overview of the elements and basics of WebRTC. Anant started his talk by highlighting the agreement, announced earlier in the day, between Google, MPEG LA and the 11 MPEG patent holders that would enable the VP8 codec to be royalty free forever. 

This is great news, as many tests with WebRTC and VP8 have shown it is the equal to or better than other codec technologies. Even if VP8 is the mandatory WebRTC codec chosen, this will not preclude other codecs like 264 or 265 being used in WebRTC when available. 

Anant commented that the timing was great, and with the IETF meetings in Orlando next week, this agreement should be helpful in deciding on the mandatory codec for WebRTC.

He continued his talk be saying that from listening to the discussion before the meeting, he felt most in the audience were really familiar with WebRTC. In fact, the group is generally well plugged into the code, and where the support and issues are. 

Anant went on to discuss the origins of the get media and peer connection, and demonstrated some interesting get media code examples, like face tracking to drive text size in the browser. 

He closed with some recommendations of sites and examples he felt were good for the community.

Anant was followed by Eric Zhang, a professed Java library addict, with a predilection for libraries that end in “JS.” His latest library is PeerJS, a library designed to easily enable the use of the WebRTC data channel.  He demonstrated how easy it is to send data over the channel, but clarified that issues remain around string versus block data transmission and mapping. 

Finally, he talked to some of the uses of the data channel and how easy it will be to create transformational capabilities when you can send UDP data between devices without having to go through a server in TCP. 

The example of a WebRTC version of Bit Torrent was noted, with the data channel providing the distribution under host control. I encourage developers to check out the PeerJS libraries and the work Eric is doing with the data channel.

The session closed with me doing a brief discussion on why WebRTC is set to be a game-changer, and how the structure of WebRTC is different than SIP. I also highlighted the upcoming WebRTC Conference and Expo events in Atlanta in June and back in Silicon Valley in November. 

Topics the Meet Up attendees asked about include the data channel, setting up ICE/STUN/TURN, signaling, and other areas on the agenda for Atlanta.

One final note: at the end of the meeting, I was talking with the recruiter for Jive, who indicated that they are actively seeking new development talent to help with their WebRTC plans, and that it is hard to find developers with experience in WebRTC that are ready to move into a corporate (albeit relatively startup) environment. 

This shows that investing in WebRTC is a great career builder for JavaScript and Web developers.

Overall, a great meeting, and I look forward to keeping in touch and meeting again with everyone at the event. Thanks to Jive Software for hosting!




Edited by Braden Becker




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