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Microsoft, Google and Hookflash establish real-time communications specification

W3C launches documentation for implementation
Thu Aug 21 2014, 12:45
Microsoft, Google, Hookflash and others have co-authored a real-time communications specification

MICROSOFT, GOOGLE and a cloud company called Hookflash have had an object real time communications specification adopted by the W3C.

The Object Real-Time Communications API (ORTC) has been co-authored by the companies and developed within the W3C ORTC community group. Now released, the Javascript chat specification is ready for implementation and use, and presumably, feedback.

It is designed to make it easier for web developers and partners to work with streamed communications in an unencumbered way, and represents a move away from the Session Description Protocol method of uniting communications between multimedia streams. This sort of thing could be described as in-browser chat and video, or in simpler terms, as being like Skype.

"ORTC leverages Javascript to enable plugin-free real-time communications among web browsers, mobile devices and cloud technologies in a way that is familiar to website developers," says a Microsoft Open Technologies blog post that announced the release.

"The ORTC API is well suited to a 'mobile first, cloud first' world because it supports advanced video features such as scalable video coding and simulcast. These advanced video technologies have proven difficult to support in an interoperable way within Session Description Protocol SDP in WebRTC 1.0."

In a presentation last year Hookflash took issue with the SDP and its role in the process, and pitched the ORTC API as being part of a development revolution.

"Early in 2013, [I was] becoming growingly concerned about the direction the WebRTC WG in the W3C and the RTCWEB WG in the IETF were taking, specifically with respect to mandating SDP and not taking into consideration those who might want an Object interface versus a C++ / SDP O/A interface," wrote co-founder Erik Lagerway in a post at the time.

A memo was written, points were made and opinions given. "Some praised us for standing up and calling it as we saw it," he added.

"Some referenced this as a disruption to progress and we were asked to not drop bombs like this unless we were prepared to deliver proposals to back it up."

This work has culminated in the release of the W3C specification. µ


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