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Going to build a video conferencing app!! Consider these things before starting the trek.



In this new world of post covid-19, video collaboration is the new normal irrespective of the industry segment. As the work is going remote, video collaboration is a must in order to keep that human touch. A secure video collaboration tool is a need of the hour but there is no one size fits all tool available even today as every need is not the same. Building a video collaboration tool doesn't mean it should cost a lot of time and resources. There are very good open source libraries available with their unique strength and weaknesses. But as the open source is not designed while keeping your unique needs in mind, a good amount of resources in terms of time and money need to to be dedicated to create a video conferencing system from scratch. We are here to help as a consultant in the complete life cycle of your product development for your unique use case. Listed below are the high level things to consider for developing a production grade video conferencing app.


The steps of building a video conferencing app can broadly be divided in to the below mentioned steps.


Defining your need (real need, aka the product road map)


Building a video conferencing system is not like building another web app. It is much more complicated than that as it has much more complexities in terms of technical things to deal with. That's why we help our clients with the need definition so that we are crystal clear before writing even a single line of code. This also helps in setting our esteemed customer's expectations properly and helps the development team in achieving the defined milestones in a timely manner without time and cost overruns. Click this link to Learn more about building a product road map.


Choosing the correct tech stack


Choosing the correct tech stack to build your app is very critical to meet the timelines as defined in the product road map. A product road map is a bunch of assumptions which meets the reality through the correct tech stack. There will be considerations like availability of good developers in the chosen stack, availability of reusable open source components according to the architecture, architecting the app to support agile development practices while sticking to the defined time lines, modularity along with flexibility and maintainability of the code base etc. There is no right or wrong approach here. Based on the use case, the tech stack and the architecture will vary. But overall, from our experience we can say that Javascript as a language, Nodejs as server and Reactjs as frontend language go well for building a production grade video conferencing system.


Building the app


Once the product road map is there, tech stack is decided and a high level architecture is in place, It is time to write the code. The code has to be written in a modular manner so that is will be easy to maintain a large code base a t a later point in time when the use case grows which leads to a swell in the number of lines of code. Keeping things DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) also becomes super important to follow as the code base grows. There are many other coding best practices to follow so that it is easy for a new developer joining at a later stage to understand the codebase within a short period of time. Below is a link to 50 coding best practice to follow for Javascript.


Testing the app


Testing the app is super critical to deliver the consistencies knowing that the best of the best developers also make mistakes while writing codes. Testing a WebRTC app in it's length and breadth also become super critical not only to test the logic written in the code directly but also to test the indirect part of it like testing the app in different network conditions, different browsers, different devices etc. Here is a nice blog written by a globally renowned WebRTC evangelist about his view on WebRTC testing. Here is the link.


DevOps (Cloud deployment / Scaling)


Devops plays a very critical part in success or a failure of a WebRTC app. WebRTC needs at least 2 kind of servers(application and signalling) which can go upto 6 servers( application, signalling, media, recording, NAT Traversal and recording post processing). Specifically media and recording servers need good CPU, Memory and Network bandwidth even for 1 successful call. The ideal media server is a c5.xLarge VPS which is 4 core CPU with 8-16gb of RAM and 10GBPS network. Ideal recording server is a c5.large VPS. It is always good to prefer a compute intensive VPS for media and recording related things. Scaling from 1 meeting to 100 meetings is more of an Art than science. It needs a good command over dev-ops best practices and a deep knowledge of your chosen cloud vendor to achieve good results in scaling.


Post implementation


As WebRTC is a moving target, keeping a good post implementation support team is critical to the success of the product. The point to note about the post implementation support is that, the service can break any time due to not fault of your code but for some random change in a popular browser after a recent upgrade. Therefore it is important to keep a good post implementation support team for your production grade WebRTC app.


We recently started our consulting practice to help others plan and execute their video conferencing trek in a better way. Do drop us a mail at hello@centedge.io about your plans and we will be happy to help you.

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