Tech Talks

WebRTC vs WebSockets: Which Is Right for Your Video Chat App?

August 10th, 2022 Tech Talks

In this article, we will compare WebRTC vs WebSockets – the front-runners of communication protocols. These technologies work at the backend of every newsfeed, live-match stream, messaging, customer service, bot support, and any real-time interaction that we come across in our day-to-day lives.

If you are confused about which one will work out for your video chat app, the next few minutes of this context will throw light on the finest details you need.  

What is WebRTC?

WebRTCs are generally used for direct & distributed Real-Time Communications without the need of a server.

This protocol is available as a regular Javascript API in almost all browsers and is ideal for scenarios that involve more than two users. A typical example is live video call streaming where several users can interact with each other via comments during the broadcast. 

What is WebSocket?

WebSocket is a full duplex, bidirectional protocol that enables two-way communication between browsers and web servers using a TCP/IP connection.

This server-to-client message delivery tool is used by developers to predominantly establish real-time voice and video communications. In most cases, WebSockets are used to display data continuously on the client side. A perfect here would be a bitcoin trading website, where the backend server displays trading data continuously on the dashboard. 

How Does WebRTC Work?

As we know from the above explanations, that two users can send/ receive messages using WebSockets, there comes the next challenge – the users are connected to Private networks (ISPs) but their apps will need Public IP addresses to connect them. 

Therefore, a solution is needed to translate the Private IP addresses into Public IP addresses without any breach of privacy and security.  Network access traversal (NAT) is the saviour here. 

NAT works with 2 servers – STUN (Session Traversal Utilities for NAT) and TURN (Traversal Using Relays around NAT) servers for this process. At this point, we’ll use WebRTCs to negotiate the connection between the computers via the servers mentioned above. 

In real-time, when user 1 starts a video call,

  • User 1’s browser initiates the request to STUN or TURN servers. These servers inform your device about your Public IP. 
  • Your device now lets users 2 know how to connect to your Public IP. 
  • User 2 connects to User 1. This process is known as Signalling.
  • From this point, both the users can make real-time conversations with each other more effectively.

How Does WebSockets Work?

Let’s look into a practical scenario where two users need to make a video call using a web app.

When user 1 makes a video call to user 2, both their browsers must be able to send/ receive messages at the same time. These browsers are connected by a central web server, which brings us to an understanding that the constant communication between the browsers and server is what yields us real-time interaction. 

In the backend, the following process occurs:

  • User 1 starts a video call,  his/ her browser initiates an HTTP request to the server. 

Note: When the server sends a response to this request, the communication becomes two-way/ bi-directional. Unfortunately, this server cannot initiate requests/ responses on its own. It requires a communication protocol to make the server send a response. 

That’s where WebSockets step in. 

When a web app uses WebSockets, the same process changes as follows:

  • The browser (client) sends a ‘handshake’ request to the server.
  • The WebSockets help the server to give back a handshake response. 
  • At this point, the protocol switches from HTTP to Websockets, establishing successful communication across browsers.
  • Thereby, both users can send/ receive data at the same time. 
 
Сan’t decide in the WebRTC vs WebSockets Dilemma?

WebRTC vs WebSockets: Use Cases

Here are a few use-cases where WebRTCs and WebSockets are used:

WebRTC

  • HTML 5 Applications
  • IoT apps
  • Live Broadcasting
  • Customer Support
  • HR Management
  • AI basedConversational Assistant
  • Social Networking
  • Telemedicine
  • Real-time Marketing & Advertising
  • Virtual medical Consultations

WebSocket

Development Environment of WebRTC vs WebSockets 

WeBRTC

  • C++
  • Java
  • Java Message Service (JMS)

WebSockets

Connection Scalability of WebRTC and WebSockets 

  • WebRTC – Uses one server for every session
  • WebSockets – Ideal for directly connecting 2 or more users

Let’s Explore the Pros and Cons: WebRTC vs WebSockets

Pros and Cons of WebRTC

Pros

  • Suspends the need for an additional plugin or software to make video calls
  • Cross Platform Compatibility
  • The quality of the audio and video adjusts to the digital environment automatically
  • Built-in Noise and Echo cancellation
  • High-quality communication is supported by Video codecs (VP8 and H. 264) and Audio codecs(Opus)
  • high Security: Connections are encrypted via TLS and SRTP protocols
  • In-built Content Capture enabling screen sharing & desktop sharing capabilities
  • Compatible with any WebSocket interface

Cons

  • Quality of service in public domains is not reliable
  • Integration challenges across organizations.
  • The Support for Adaptive Bitrate is limited
  • Codes may undergo changes in the future as the technology is still under development
  • The use of non-free codecs, beyond agreement by industry giants, may pose problems to third-party software developers.

Pros and Cons of WebRTC

Pros

  • Event-driven protocols instantly make the server respond to client requests without waiting.
  • Reduces latency problems via a single, persistent connection
  • Supports Full Duplex Communication
  • Establishes connections faster than HTTP & AJAX
  • Cross-platform compatibility
  • Enables responsive web apps
  • Adds rich functionalities to web browsers
  • Reduces unnecessary network traffic
  • Cuts off expensive data loads to servers

Cons

  • Development is not as simple as HTTP
  • Weight of the Protocol
  • Need a complete HTML-compliant Web browser to employ WebSockets
  • Does not provide Edge Caching
  • Possibility of cross-site scripting attack
  • Not supported by browsers older than 2011
  • Does not have success mechanisms as AJAX does
  • When connections terminate, WebSockets do not automatically recover them

Can WebRTCs Replace WebSockets?

A Websocket establishes a connection between two browsers (clients) via a web server. When these browsers interact, WebRTCs help sends and receive messages between these browsers without involving the web server that’s mentioned above. 

This delivers a clear message that WebSockets and WebRTCs are two separate entities in the same process. These technologies play unique roles in establishing real-time communication across web apps and browsers. 

The Verdict

From our analysis above, it is clear that WebSockets and WebRTCs cannot be directly compared against each other. However, if we were to question the robustness of both these protocols, it is no doubt that WebRTCs take the winning side for the quality of video communication transfer across devices.

If you are interested in a similar comparison between XMPP and Websockets, we’ve written an article on it – Click Here to Read!!!

Start your 21-Day Free Trial to Try Out All Our Chat Features!

Krushi Shivasangaran

Krushi is a Digital Marketer by choice & profession. She munches on topics relating to Technology, E-Commerce, Enterprise Mobility, Cloud Solutions and Internet of Things.

In this article, we will compare WebRTC vs WebSockets – the front-runners of communication protocols. These technologies work at the backend of every newsfeed, live-match stream, messaging, customer service, bot support, and any real-time interaction that we come across in our day-to-day lives.

If you are confused about which one will work out for your video chat app, the next few minutes of this context will throw light on the finest details you need.  

What is WebRTC?

WebRTCs are generally used for direct & distributed Real-Time Communications without the need of a server.

This protocol is available as a regular Javascript API in almost all browsers and is ideal for scenarios that involve more than two users. A typical example is live video call streaming where several users can interact with each other via comments during the broadcast. 

What is WebSocket?

WebSocket is a full duplex, bidirectional protocol that enables two-way communication between browsers and web servers using a TCP/IP connection.

This server-to-client message delivery tool is used by developers to predominantly establish real-time voice and video communications. In most cases, WebSockets are used to display data continuously on the client side. A perfect here would be a bitcoin trading website, where the backend server displays trading data continuously on the dashboard. 

How Does WebRTC Work?

As we know from the above explanations, that two users can send/ receive messages using WebSockets, there comes the next challenge – the users are connected to Private networks (ISPs) but their apps will need Public IP addresses to connect them. 

Therefore, a solution is needed to translate the Private IP addresses into Public IP addresses without any breach of privacy and security.  Network access traversal (NAT) is the saviour here. 

NAT works with 2 servers – STUN (Session Traversal Utilities for NAT) and TURN (Traversal Using Relays around NAT) servers for this process. At this point, we’ll use WebRTCs to negotiate the connection between the computers via the servers mentioned above. 

In real-time, when user 1 starts a video call,

  • User 1’s browser initiates the request to STUN or TURN servers. These servers inform your device about your Public IP. 
  • Your device now lets users 2 know how to connect to your Public IP. 
  • User 2 connects to User 1. This process is known as Signalling.
  • From this point, both the users can make real-time conversations with each other more effectively.

How Does WebSockets Work?

Let’s look into a practical scenario where two users need to make a video call using a web app.

When user 1 makes a video call to user 2, both their browsers must be able to send/ receive messages at the same time. These browsers are connected by a central web server, which brings us to an understanding that the constant communication between the browsers and server is what yields us real-time interaction. 

In the backend, the following process occurs:

  • User 1 starts a video call,  his/ her browser initiates an HTTP request to the server. 

Note: When the server sends a response to this request, the communication becomes two-way/ bi-directional. Unfortunately, this server cannot initiate requests/ responses on its own. It requires a communication protocol to make the server send a response. 

That’s where WebSockets step in. 

When a web app uses WebSockets, the same process changes as follows:

  • The browser (client) sends a ‘handshake’ request to the server.
  • The WebSockets help the server to give back a handshake response. 
  • At this point, the protocol switches from HTTP to Websockets, establishing successful communication across browsers.
  • Thereby, both users can send/ receive data at the same time. 
 
Сan’t decide in the WebRTC vs WebSockets Dilemma?

WebRTC vs WebSockets: Use Cases

Here are a few use-cases where WebRTCs and WebSockets are used:

WebRTC

  • HTML 5 Applications
  • IoT apps
  • Live Broadcasting
  • Customer Support
  • HR Management
  • AI basedConversational Assistant
  • Social Networking
  • Telemedicine
  • Real-time Marketing & Advertising
  • Virtual medical Consultations

WebSocket

Development Environment of WebRTC vs WebSockets 

WeBRTC

  • C++
  • Java
  • Java Message Service (JMS)

WebSockets

Connection Scalability of WebRTC and WebSockets 

  • WebRTC – Uses one server for every session
  • WebSockets – Ideal for directly connecting 2 or more users

Let’s Explore the Pros and Cons: WebRTC vs WebSockets

Pros and Cons of WebRTC

Pros

  • Suspends the need for an additional plugin or software to make video calls
  • Cross Platform Compatibility
  • The quality of the audio and video adjusts to the digital environment automatically
  • Built-in Noise and Echo cancellation
  • High-quality communication is supported by Video codecs (VP8 and H. 264) and Audio codecs(Opus)
  • high Security: Connections are encrypted via TLS and SRTP protocols
  • In-built Content Capture enabling screen sharing & desktop sharing capabilities
  • Compatible with any WebSocket interface

Cons

  • Quality of service in public domains is not reliable
  • Integration challenges across organizations.
  • The Support for Adaptive Bitrate is limited
  • Codes may undergo changes in the future as the technology is still under development
  • The use of non-free codecs, beyond agreement by industry giants, may pose problems to third-party software developers.

Pros and Cons of WebRTC

Pros

  • Event-driven protocols instantly make the server respond to client requests without waiting.
  • Reduces latency problems via a single, persistent connection
  • Supports Full Duplex Communication
  • Establishes connections faster than HTTP & AJAX
  • Cross-platform compatibility
  • Enables responsive web apps
  • Adds rich functionalities to web browsers
  • Reduces unnecessary network traffic
  • Cuts off expensive data loads to servers

Cons

  • Development is not as simple as HTTP
  • Weight of the Protocol
  • Need a complete HTML-compliant Web browser to employ WebSockets
  • Does not provide Edge Caching
  • Possibility of cross-site scripting attack
  • Not supported by browsers older than 2011
  • Does not have success mechanisms as AJAX does
  • When connections terminate, WebSockets do not automatically recover them

Can WebRTCs Replace WebSockets?

A Websocket establishes a connection between two browsers (clients) via a web server. When these browsers interact, WebRTCs help sends and receive messages between these browsers without involving the web server that’s mentioned above. 

This delivers a clear message that WebSockets and WebRTCs are two separate entities in the same process. These technologies play unique roles in establishing real-time communication across web apps and browsers. 

The Verdict

From our analysis above, it is clear that WebSockets and WebRTCs cannot be directly compared against each other. However, if we were to question the robustness of both these protocols, it is no doubt that WebRTCs take the winning side for the quality of video communication transfer across devices.

If you are interested in a similar comparison between XMPP and Websockets, we’ve written an article on it – Click Here to Read!!!

Start your 21-Day Free Trial to Try Out All Our Chat Features!

Krushi Shivasangaran

Krushi is a Digital Marketer by choice & profession. She munches on topics relating to Technology, E-Commerce, Enterprise Mobility, Cloud Solutions and Internet of Things.

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