CPaaS review: WebRTC, Twilio, Jitsi, BigBlueButton
There are different APIs for developing communication platforms and no one-fit option. Even universally recognized best Video Conferencing Software and CPaaS, have their drawbacks. To be fair, a shortcoming for one can mean nothing to others. You analyze and only then make a decision.
Here we are taking a closer look at WebRTC, Twilio, and Jitsi, and paying extra attention to BigBlueButton. We are to find out the key features of CPaaS, the main differences among them, their merits and demerits, and help you to determine which one suits your product and expectations.
WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is a protocol that allows you to organize the process of broadcasting audio and video.
While WebRTC lacks a text chat option. If needed, it can be implemented on the server-side and the client-side. For real-time communication, you need to use WebSockets, provide storage for messages in the database, etc. [According to the chat functionality and complexity of UI, it takes from 50 to 120 hours.]
Also, WebRTC requires manual implementation of functions such as screen sharing, video/audio broadcasting, microphone, and camera settings. The platform enables the creation of robust communication systems by allowing video, voice, and basic data to be distributed between users.
WebRTC only allows the transmission and acceptance of a data stream. Screen Capture API, built into the browser, allows screen demonstration. The main functionality for the conference is implemented through the use of the API for the microphone/camera in the browser using JS on the client-side. [A pool of work depends on the UI complexity and takes from 80 to 200 hours.]
Functionality for Safari users is limited: screen demonstration and camera recording are not supported.
WebAssembly may be used to customize WebRTC in depth. By allowing code to execute with hardware optimization, it facilitates the development of media-processing extensions. WebAssembly pushes WebRTC to new heights by adding extra codecs, audio controls, image recognition, and other capabilities into browsers.
You can start a video conference at any time. If you want to establish a time frame for access, you are going to need a separate server to authorize users and provide them access. [Depending on the complexity of the task, this functionality development takes from 50 to 100 hours.]
By default, it is possible to create a stable connection (video + audio) for two users. For having more people, you need to connect to a STUN server. A STUN (Session Traversal Utilities for NAT) server is required to obtain a public IPv4 address and port to establish a connection. You also need to implement a separate TURN (Traversal Using Relays around NAT) server. [Installation and setup take from 120 to 300 hours.]
Twilio has democratized communication channels by facilitating the integration of phones, VoIP, and messaging into the web, desktop, and mobile apps.
Concerning this criteria, Twilio offers a solid communication stack and allows users to combine its components. Screen demonstration, audio, and video stream switching the microphone, camera on-off, and displaying video from other participants are to be done manually. The Twilio SDK only allows you to send and receive a data stream.
Screen demonstration is provided by the Screen Capture API, built into the browser. The main functionality is implemented through the use of the API for the microphone/camera in the browser using JS on the client side. [Depending on the UI complexity, this may take 80-200 hours.]
Twilio does not support text chat. If needed, it can be implemented on the server-side and the client-side (UI). For real-time communication, you need to use WebSockets, provide storage for messages in the database, and so on. [It takes 50-120 hours.]
Twilio also has the same troubles with browsers as the previous service. This is due to the fact of using WebRTC here as a basis for data transfer between end customers.
One of Twilio’s most powerful features is the ability to modify not just the interface, but also the functionality of APIs, such as generating full-fledged IVRs virtually without any effort on your part, as well as other sophisticated capabilities such as auto-SMS and chatbots.
Unlike the other services, Twilio is not a free platform. However, in terms of features, this CPaaS enables you to hold audio/video conferences for groups of 2 to 50 people. It’s also suitable for organizing encrypted P2P connections. Twilio provides the entire infrastructure for video/audio delivery, you don’t need to configure additional servers, STUN, TURN, etc.
You may begin a video conference at any moment, but you must first build a video room with the Twilio API. To generate a room, you need a specific server that uses the Twilio API. On this server, you can generate links only for selected users and for a certain time interval. [The development of such functionality takes from 50 to 100 hours.]
Read also: On-Demand Tutoring Marketplaces: How Do These Platforms Work
Jitsi is a free open-source platform. The name speaks for itself – you can upgrade the code if needed.
Jitsi provides powerful visual routing capabilities such as bandwidth predictions, scalable video coding, dial-in services, and more. The platform has a built-in text chat function as well as the option to establish conference invitation links, in addition to the ability to access display panels.
Though Jitsi, like other quality CPaaS, allows you to customize it according to your tastes, updating its feature package will result in all of your customization modifications and additions being overwritten when you reload it.
Jitsi lacks fundamental features like arranging separate rooms, virtual whiteboards, meeting/call recording, and screen sharing, making it inconvenient to use. Jitsi frequently malfunctions upon attending the meeting, which is a very terrible flaw. You also need to limit access to third parties. To get that, you add logic to the platform’s client part, which means plus 20-40 hours of work.
Despite these disadvantages, a video conference could be started at any point in time. For settling time-frames, you need a separate server to authorize users and provide them access to the conference. [The development of such functionality takes from 50 to 100 hours.]
Big Blue Button
Big Blue Button deserves to be highlighted. It is an open-source platform, free for both personal and commercial use. Designed specifically for organizing and conducting online education it is well established on the top among that kind of software.
Our experience with BigBlueButton: EduTailors
BigBlueButton has all the necessary functionality for online webinars. It’s possible to distribute audio, video, presentations, and display the desktop during the session. A whiteboard, notes, pools, and online chat are also at your service.
BigBlueButton has gone further than other apps in its focus on online learning. For example, students can be organized into groups and work in separate rooms. Each room will have an individual whiteboard to work together.
The security mechanism is complex. You can set a password to access each room and require confirmation by the administrator, as an example.
BigBlueButton legitimately holds the top spot among services for Online Learning Platforms development. Although the number of features and instruments is as impressively large as expensive software has, it is free. The CPaaS provides a wide range of customization options useful particularly for online education, including the ability to change lesson formats, course categorization, video and audio settings, and more.
Big Blue Button is impressively easy to use and the official website offers great video tutorials. Problems may occur while installing and using an Ubuntu Linux server. It requires proper knowledge and skills, and qualified professionals. The official site offers five trustworthy companies whose experts can help you here (but more other firms do that). The cost of this assistance starts from $ 150.
It is also possible to simultaneously monitor comments, presentations, and users. There are additional break-out rooms available, however, they can only accommodate a maximum of 10 groups.
BigBlueButton, unlike its competitors Zoom and Jitsi, only supports a web platform, whereas the other two are available on Android and iOS.