Chris Kranky

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Justin, I heard you

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

spaceinvadersThere sat Justin Uberti, one of the Google faces for WebRTC, this week at the Santa Clara WebRTC Expo event, his head buried in his hands. He has been dreading this day for weeks and now here it was. A single thought rushed thru his head, “how much longer must I sit here.”

An ever polite Eagle Boy Scout, Justin couldn’t possibly do what I would do, run screaming thru event hall. But Justin had to figure out a gentle  way of prodding the group using his Southern manners honed whilst studying apples falling from tress at UVA. He would use the keynote and hope the audience would get his subtle message.

Justin, I got your message.

When time came for the Google keynote, he and Serge Lachapelle (Group Product Manager @ Google) mounted the stage. The audience momentarily came out their carbohydrate induced sleep and perked up. But there would be no click to dial demos, no video windows popping up with happy smiley people. No earth shattering announcement. No, Google decided to highlight an innovative little effort from a group called Soundtrap ( who was using WebRTC to create a collaborative garage band experience. It was fun, it was neat, it was cool, it was easy, the interface was amazing. It just seemed seemed so beautiful and clever.

Justin said one key sentence, the most important one in their 25 minute segment. Soundtrap was created by 4 people in 4 months. One that might easily slide by the audience, but one Justin hoped we all would hang on.  A statement which begats the power of WebRTC but also sends a warning message to all of us.

It’s all about the front end and the application. Six months between WebRTC Expo events, the demos as I walked the trade show event have only marginally improved from that of Atlanta. Yet in less than this period Soundtrap could have been created twice over.

Google’s master plan is starting to work, a wider swath of HTML developers are discovering WebRTC. These developers historically start their concept from front and work their way to the middle bits. A contrast for those who work from the core out. The battle starts ON the front end and no amount of chartware, arrow diagrams or attempts to convey the sophistication of your application is going to make one bit of difference, if the end user doesn’t want to touch it. WebRTC is a user touching technology.

With the technology of WebRTC fundamentally complete, the experimenting is over, 2014 will see an onslaught of new WebRTC enabled applications. Tighten your shoelaces, you have two lives left to play.