How WebRTC is Bringing Real-Time Communication into the Hands of Many Developers

Real-time communication has become an indispensable feature enabled by technology. From the classic “snail mail,” which took days or even weeks for letters to get delivered to the recipient, the invention of telephones has brought real-time communication into households and businesses. However, the high cost of telephone calls, especially for long-distance communication, became a major hindrance to the rampant use of real-time communication among the masses.

The invention of the internet, however, changed all of this. The internet became a much more affordable avenue for real-time communication, giving rise to a plethora of text, voice, and even video messaging applications that can be downloaded onto computers, tablets, mobile phones, and a variety of other devices. A decent full-stack developer can provide you with an amazing website but you would need another specialist to implement VoIP (voice over internet protocol).

An even more advanced technology, called WebRTC, brings real-time communication capabilities to all these different devices without a need to install applications. In this article, we take a greater look at the WebRTC technology and some details on WebRTC development.

What is WebRTC?

WebRTC was released by Google in May 2011 as an open-source, browser-based real-time communication project. The WebRTC project started in May 2010 when Google bought Global IP Solutions (GIPS), which developed many of the first components of the project.

WebRTC allows real-time communication across different browsers and even applications with the use of application programming interfaces, or APIs. This eliminates the need for any third-party application or plugin installations.

WebRTC supports nearly all browsers and operating systems and is used primarily on the Windows operating system using the Chrome browser, according to WebRTCHacks. Communications information and analysis website NoJitter reports that nearly all mobile applications using messaging, voice and video communications use some form of WebRTC, meaning that WebRTC is used by over 5 billion users for mobile applications alone.

WebRTC Pros and Cons

Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of integrating WebRTC into applications.

Pros Cons
Open-Source. The WebRTC codebase is open-source and free to use, and has good community support. Relatively new. Having only been released in 2011, WebRTC is relatively new and is still actively being developed, so frequent updates are to be expected.
No installations or plug-ins. Being API-based, WebRTC does not require any third-party applications or plug-ins to be installed. Reliant on the internet. While this isn’t a real disadvantage, using WebRTC for real-time communications is still less reliable than using phone calls, which uses dedicated connections, because it uses the internet which uses a shared connection with all other applications.
Device and platform support. WebRTC supports a huge variety of browsers and operating systems, and works on nearly all of the most popular platforms and devices.  
Network adaptivity. WebRTC is able to adjust to changing network bandwidth availabilities, so it provides reliable session connections.  

WebRTC Development

The task of WebRTC developers is to be able to integrate real-time communication features into web and mobile applications by accessing WebRTC APIs. They are also tasked with the maintenance of existing WebRTC implementations, which also involves adjusting codes whenever there are major updates to WebRTC that require such code changes.

Moreover, WebRTC developers perform WebRTC testing, where they test different functionalities of the API and see if they work as expected on the different components of applications. In addition, WebRTC developers are responsible for ensuring that the WebRTC connection is secure, so as to prevent security risks such as WebRTC leaks via methods such as the use of WebRTC control.

WebRTC supports a wide variety of programming languages for development, including JavaScript, C, C++, Java, Swift, Python, Ruby, PHP, C#, and even the less popular ones such as Erlang, Go, and Elixir.

WebRTC developers have access to comprehensive documentation, the WebRTC developer guide, which contains all of the information needed for WebRTC development as well as useful WebRTC tutorial.

WebRTC Developer Skills

Here are some of the skills that great WebRTC developers should have in order to be competent in today’s market.

Front-end Development

Front-end development is a critical skill for a legitimate WebRTC developer, as WebRTC development would entail lots of API integrations from the WebRTC client-side layer of the application, specifically in the JavaScript codes. Moreover, it entails integrating the real-time communication feature to the user interface, which could entail adjustments in HTML and CSS codes as well.

Back-end Development

It’s also possible to connect to WebRTC APIs from the server-side code. Moreover, back-end development skills are useful for WebRTC developers to be able to prepare the structure and architecture of applications to be suitable for real-time communication capabilities.

VoIP Understanding

While WebRTC APIs are black-boxed, meaning its inner workings and codes are abstracted from the developers who will use it, it’s still immensely useful for developers to understand how VoIP works. This enables them to be good at understanding errors and debugging codes.

Mobile App Development

In addition to web applications, mobile applications also use WebRTC, especially those that feature text messaging, voice calls, and video conferencing. As such, WebRTC developers should also have a good deal of mobile development skills.

WebRTC Developer Salary

When you want to hire a WebRTC developer, one of the key considerations would be the cost. Hiring WebRTC developers can cost a lot in many different countries. For this reason, it’s a good idea to compare the rates of WebRTC developers in different countries to see where it would be best to hire from. Let’s perform this comparison and browse the PayScale to get the salaries of software engineers, which include WebRTC developers. According to PayScale, the salaries of software engineers in different countries are as follows:

Salary Comparison of Software Engineers in Different Countries (Source: PayScale)

The above comparison clearly shows that Ukraine offers among the lowest salaries for software engineers, and it follows that Ukraine offers the most affordable rates for WebRTC developers as well.

Conclusion

WebRTC gives state-of-the-art real-time communication functionalities, including text, audio, and video communication, to the web and mobile applications without the need for third-party installations. This is done via web application programming interfaces, or APIs, to which applications can easily connect. WebRTC is open-source, supports a vast amount of platforms and operating systems, and adapts to changing network bandwidth and connectivity states.

Due to the many benefits that WebRTC offers, developers are integrating it to applications left and right. We’ve taken a look at some of the skills needed for WebRTC development, as well as the cost of hiring WebRTC developers in different countries, where Ukraine proves to be a good place to scout. With rapid advancements in technology, now may be the best time to explore WebRTC and consider integrating it into your applications, if you haven’t already done so.

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