How to learn WebRTC quickly

Review of WebRTC Integrator's Guide by Altanai Bisht

I picked up the book - not because I'm working on WebRTC or related stuff but simply to get an idea of what this new technology is all about. It's a lengthly book, and the author seems to know every trick of the trade. After finishing the book, I feel that I have a better understanding of what WebRTC (and SIP and PSTN) works - at least on the high level.

One thing I like about the book is that it has many diagrams. As I don't have an in-depth experience before reading the book, the diagrams help me to get a understanding fast.

From a practical standpoint I like chapter 9. It's about native clients of the most widely used platforms today (both desktop and mobile). If you read the book to years after publication, it is probably outdated, and I hope that the publisher will ask the author to update it and publish it at their web site.

Chapter 10 touches a topic which is only going to become larger: WebRTC and TV. Today, we see a shift from broadcasting services (like BBC) to streaming services (like Netflix), and a contemporary TV set (SmartTV) is more a connected computer with a monitor than a receiver of TV signals. Reading chapter 10 is like looking into the future. The book also mention WebRTC in healthcare, and I guess that most countries are discussing how to implement remote healthcare so patients can stay at home.

The book's website is http://bit.ly/1wBZ2fG.


Review of JavaScript Promises Essentials

Promises are an old pattern in concurrent programming. In the computer science literature, promises date back to the papers by Friendman and Wise from mid 1970s. Many programming languages have promise - and futures as in Java are a similar idea. A promise is a variable or an object which value is initially unknown and is the result of another task. Modern JavaScript development is highly asynchronous by design: the UI (in the web browser) is updated by calls to the backend using HTTP requests.

JavaScript (ECMAScript to be correct) will soon have promises build into the core of the runtime environment, and promises already exist in many libraries and frameworks. If you haven’t worked with promises in a JavaScript context before, now is a good time to begin. In order to ease the use of promises in JavaScript development, the Promises/A+ standard has emerged.

The book is short and divided in six chapters. The first chapter is an introduction to the state of front-end JavaScript development in general and the asynchronous model in particular. The chapter sets the scene for the rest of the book, and discuss how promises fit well into JavaScript.

The second chapter is written in a very dense format using many bullet lists. You are probably going to read the chapter more than once to get all the information. The good news is that is a lot of information. Chapters 2-4 are a presentation of how to use promises, include error handling.

Chapter 5 is devoted to WinJS - the open source library for development of Windows 8 and Windows mobile applications in  JavaScript. Personally, I don’t develop for any of the Microsoft stacks, but the chapter is still useful as it shows how a widely used library is applying the promise concepts.

The final chapter explains how to implement your own promise library. I guess that there exist many in-house JavaScript libraries. If you have such a library, you will find this chapter useful.

In general, the book is well-written. The usage of bullet list many place (and chapter 2 in particular) can make it hard to read the book. Still, any JavaScript developer should read the book and get ready to the great promise of promises. You can find more information about the book here.