RTMP: web video innovation or Web 1.0 hack… how did we get to now? (Demuxed 2019)
It was fun to go back in time and recall why Flash was great in 2000, when IE 5.5 had just been released and you couldn’t rely on CSS actually working. In prepping for this talk, I worked really hard to try to express what Web development was like then and why people loved Flash: “200K of cross-platform goodness.” Flash made the Web work for high fidelity interactive graphics 20 years ago, which I think helped drive Web standards to support more than text, images and links.
“We wanted to support all the people on the internet.” It still boggles my mind how we could support low-latency way-back-then and now when computers and networks are faster it seems impossible… sometimes I try to visualize what is happening to the bits as I wait for something to happen. (I really do know why things are slower now, and it’s not just about the tech, but that’s a different story.)
HTTP tunneling worked much better than you would expect… sometimes it’s good to make something work for everyone, even if not optimal.
I fondly remembering Doug Engelbart telling me that his Augment system (built in the 1960s) had more features than Flash Player 6 + Flash Communication Server in 2002. (It’s great when your heroes tell you that your great accomplishments are not all that interesting.) Later, he did acknowledge that making this stuff available to everyone on the Web was “pretty good.” Inspiring widespread adoption, creating an ecosystem is a different kind of innovation.
The thing that makes it an ecosystem is that each essential component can be bought from multiple companies and is available as open source. At first Flash was essential, now much later, Flash doesn’t really matter anymore to the relevance of the RTMP protocol.
Today there are 500M IP camera on the Internet, about the number of people on the Web when Flash Player 6 was released. SmartHome video sensors have insane growth. The future of video is not about how to catch up with latency and resolution of live broadcast TV (though that will happen), it’s about how we can be integrate video streams from new devices, how we can help the machines help the people by creating new applications. Maybe RTMP will be a part of that, what do you think?