The Post Plug-in Era is Now


The Post Plug-in Era is Now

By TMCnet Special Guest
Sajeel Hussain, VP of marketing and partner development at Caf�X Communications
  |  July 24, 2014

The experience has been repeated by users the world over for so long that it is second nature: browse to a website, only to be greeted by a notification to download the latest version of a plug-in, click to install, and eventually, without any hiccups, get to the desired content. It is a cumbersome, problematic process, and as new innovations continue to enter the market, the concept of the plug-in may soon be headed to the scrap heap of technology – and not a moment too soon.

Those who closely monitor the technology side of the web should be well aware of the impending changes in major browsers. Chrome, Internet Explorer, and FireFox have all stated that they will eliminate – or severely limit – the use of plug-ins at some time in the near future, a move that will change web browsing for many, and will also change the way certain media is accessed by the user.

The list of popular plug-ins includes Adobe (News - Alert) Flash, Adobe Reader, Java, Silverlight, QuickTime, and Windows Media Player. These are common solutions that are widely used to display video and documents, while also enabling user interaction with applications on a webpage. For enterprises that have relied on plug-ins for enabling content, the time to start looking toward the future is now.

Plug-ins have served us well, but with recent advances in technology and browser capabilities, there are more efficient and secure ways to deliver existing and new features without the use of plug-ins. By employing the latest technologies, companies and marketeers can now create web pages that offer robust interactive capabilities and rich communication channels while enhancing the user experience – without relying on downloads or updates, just immediate delivery of content and function.

Rich content delivery and interactive engagement with users are the key objectives of many websites and user portals. Businesses now want to extend these concepts beyond the desktop to include tablets and smartphones, which employ different versions of browsers, as well as native apps, for rich media engagement. Users also are increasingly more sophisticated, and are demanding that websites have the same look and feel across all endpoints. What does this mean to the business or web developer trying to engage with a customer? Simply, that it’s time to leverage the advanced technologies, features, and capabilities found in the latest browsers and mobile operating systems – and leave plug-ins behind.

WebRTC is one emerging technology that is being viewed with great interest by businesses looking for an efficient way to incorporate one-way or two-way video, and other rich content features, into a customer portal. WebRTC uses the native capabilities of the browser to establish desktop-to-desktop video connectivity – virtually on demand. There is no need for any plug-ins, just the current version of Chrome or FireFox, and it can be as simple as one click on a link to launch a video call. Whether this peer-to-peer connection is used for an impromptu videoconference, to deliver rich media content such as streaming audio or video, or to share screens and documents, it is inconsequential to the operation of the browser.

In the desktop realm, WebRTC is certainly a major leap forward that will overcome the loss of certain plug-ins. However, modern business to consumer engagement extends well beyond the desktop. Enabling users to have the same experience on a mobile device requires a creative mix of browser technology, such as WebRTC, and mobile platform-specific programming and technology. To facilitate seamless mobile-to-desktop or any-to-any interaction and communication, a media broker and signaling gateway are needed to smooth out any protocol or media encoding bumps related to different endpoint implementations.

With the technology pieces in place, the stage is set for enabling a new and exciting platform for customer interaction. Enterprises that are able to make use of multiple media types and communications channels to engage with customers are certain to have the upper hand. Doing so without requiring downloads on the part of the consumer, and delivering a common experience on multiple devices, makes the appeal even stronger. The tools to enable this level of engagement are ready today, and the change in support for plug-ins is a catalyst for change.

With WebRTC on the desktop, combined with mobile apps empowered with in-app video, voice, screen sharing, and more, businesses can begin to deliver the experience that consumers now demand. And it can all be done without the plug-ins that have been in use for so long. The impending changes in major browsers to limit or eliminate plug-ins should not be viewed as a loss of something that is necessary, but rather as a doorway to what is possible.

Sajeel Hussain (News - Alert) is vice president of marketing and partner development at CaféX Communications (

Edited by Adam Brandt
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