Updated ORTC API Prototype Released

MS Open Tech delivers updated ORTC API prototype, reflecting recent progress within the W3C ORTC Community Group

The W3C’s ORTC Community Group (CG) recently published an updated editor’s draft of the ORTC specification, available here. This version of the specification includes some significant enhancements compared with the original version supported in the original MS Open Tech prototype released last fall. The improvements include support for simulcast and scalable video coding, as well as enhancements to the object model such as control of senders/receivers as well as communications transport aspects (ICE, DTLS and data channel).

While additional work is still needed to complete the ORTC API specification, several missing pieces (such as support for statistics) have now been filled in, and in its recent meeting, the CG had a discussion of the remaining items and priorities. With more than 35 members (including Google, Hookflash, Microsoft, TurboBridge and Versatica) and growing traffic on the mailing list (120+ messages so far in April), a community of interest has formed to drive ORTC API forward, and the interest level continues to rise.

What is the attraction of the ORTC API for web developers? ORTC offers an object-centric API that JavaScript developers find easy to work with, because it requires less of a background in unified communications concepts such as Session Description Protocol (SDP) and the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Offer/Answer state machine. In addition, ORTC API supports advances in video technology such as simulcast and scalable video coding that have made it possible for tablets, mobile devices and PCs to participate in the same video conference, even though each device may vary in their screen size and bandwidth availability. Since ORTC API is designed to address web, mobile/tablet as well as server-side development needs, it is a good fit for the “mobile first/cloud first” world we now live in.

To demonstrate how ORTC can simplify real-time communications, MS Open Tech has developed a prototype implementation that delivers real-time video chat between two browsers, with no need for additional software. This version of the prototype now supports the DTLS and ICE transport model described in the latest ORTC API specifications. You can download the prototype here. It’s a great example of ORTC in action.

Congratulations to the ORTC Community Group on the great progress, and we look forward to continued collaboration across the industry to enable a new level of simplicity and interactivity for real-time communications across web browsers, mobile devices and cloud services.

Adalberto Foresti
Principal Program Manager
Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.

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