Finally, a commercially viable free WebRTC plugin for Internet Explorer and Safari.
And we have Temasys to thank for that.
If you missed the news, Temasys has just released a plugin for Internet Explorer and Safari. Essentially, these are wrappers for WebRTC than enables the browsers that don’t support WebRTC to support it.
In recent months, it seemed apparent that the top challenge for enterprises and telcos with WebRTC is IE and Safari. For some reasons, the act of wrapping WebRTC into a plugin and using it where needed wasn’t something they were keen on doing on their own.
If you searched the internet, the only solution out there was webrtc4all. This solution has many challenges to it:
- Its license is GPLv3, making it hard for most enterprises to adopt
- Support for codecs not part of WebRTC makes this look like a media engine than WebRTC – it also questions the way this operates on Chrome and Firefox
- I know of no one who was able to make this thing work for his project/product/service
- It does Windows but OS X is painfully missing (“coming soon”)
While the code of webrtc4all seems well maintained, it lacks that Github touch and the feeling of a community effort.
Temasys, one of the WebRTC API Platform vendors have decided to open its kimono. Instead of just investing its time and money into making a plugin and then using it as an SDK for browsers for its own customers (the approach taken by other platform vendors today), it decided to give this one freely, hosing it on its own CDN and allowing anyone to download and install it.
The plugin has no specific link to Temasys’ service, and in theory, Temasys’ direct competitors can use it as well.
This isn’t an easy or natural step for a company like Temasys, as the thinking in such vendors is that this is part of the value they give customers – value that is now slightly eroded. I applaud this move – it coveys a message that Temasys has a lot more to offer than just closing this gap for its customers.
I exchanged some emails with Alex Gouaillard, Temasys’ CTO, about this new plugin. Here’s what I was able to understand:
- Temasys aren’t providng the source code of the plugin, but rather offering the complete package to use
- Temasys will be hosting it on their own CDN, so essentially, you can enjoy the plugin directly without having to deal with the hassle of hosting it
- While the WebRTC code is in there, not all of it has been tested. Capabilities like the Data Channel don’t work yet and will be introduced within a couple of weeks if all goes well. Issues that will be raised, will be taken care of by Temasys
- This one is “pure” WebRTC. No additional codecs or features besides what you may find on webrtc.org (which I see as an advantage)
It will be interesting to see how other tooling vendors react, especially Temasys’ direct competitors. As I see it, they have a couple of options:
- Provide their own plugin. Some of them are doing it already, with plugins associated to their service
- Make use of Temasys’ plugin. I don’t see those with existing plugins taking this route, and those that are in the middle of development might prefer continuing their own efforts instead of giving credit to Temasys on this one
- Take Temasys’ plugin and host it on their own service, with the idea of maintaining more of a control and giving Temasys less information about their customer base
Putting competition in such a position is always a good move.
WebRTC purists will say any plugin is evil.
WebRTC nay sayers will say this isn’t WebRTC anymore as there is a plugin.
For me this is just progress.
Why is this important?
- WebRTC is still new. Closing this gap and by the community will give confidence to more enterprises who wish to use WebRTC
- It further reduces the barrier of entry to new players, leaving the same enterprises who whined about such support with less value to give their customers
- It shows that in WebRTC, there’s more than just Google who can change the game and further the technology
- It will be interesting to see how other platform vendors react – will they use this plugin, provide their own?
- There is huge value in having this plugin centrally hosted. I hope we end up with as little fragmentation as possible on the plugin front
Need to know where WebRTC is available? Download this free WebRTC Device Cheat Sheet.