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Is WebTransport a Potential Game-Changer?
WebTransport may redefine the way web applications communicate with servers over the internet
As the digital world continues to reshape our daily lives, from communication and entertainment to business and education, the demand for more efficient, low-latency, and adaptable web communication solutions has grown stronger than ever.
In response to these evolving needs, WebTransport has stepped onto the stage, determined to redefine the way web applications communicate with servers over the Internet.
By operating as a bridge between the application layer and the transport layer, WebTransport has the potential to revolutionize various aspects of online experiences, from enhancing real-time online gaming to transforming video conferencing and live streaming technologies.
WebSocket is a communication protocol that provides full-duplex, bidirectional communication between a client (typically a web browser) and a server over a single, long-lived connection.
WebTransport has the capacity to replace WebSocket in many areas in the coming years.
Just by looking at the name and its popular comparison to WebSocket, one might assume that WebTransport is an application layer protocol.
WebTransport is not an application layer protocol in the traditional sense. It is more accurately described as a transport protocol that operates at a layer below the application layer. To provide some context:
Application Layer: This is where actual applications and services operate. Protocols like HTTP, FTP, and SMTP are application layer protocols that define how data should be structured and transmitted for specific purposes. They rely on lower-level transport protocols to handle the actual data transmission.
Transport Layer: This is the layer responsible for managing the end-to-end communication between two devices. It includes protocols like TCP and UDP. TCP provides reliable, connection-oriented communication, while UDP is connectionless and is often used for more lightweight communication.
WebTransport operates at a level similar to TCP and UDP but provides additional features tailored to the needs of modern web applications.
So, what exactly does WebTransport do?
WebTransport is an emerging web technology that aims to provide a more efficient and flexible way for web applications to communicate with servers over the Internet.
It’s designed to overcome some of the limitations of traditional transport protocols like TCP and UDP, which are the foundation of most internet communication.
WebTransport can handle both unidirectional and bidirectional communication.
This means that while it can certainly support unidirectional communication where data flows from one side (either client or server) to the other, it also has the capability to enable bidirectional communication, where data can flow in both directions simultaneously. (Something that’s also possible with WebSocket but not on UDP)
Here are some key features and concepts associated with WebTransport:
Multiplexing: WebTransport supports multiplexing, which means that multiple streams of data can be transmitted over a single connection. This is in contrast to traditional protocols like HTTP/1.1 where each request/response cycle requires a separate connection.
Low Latency: WebTransport is optimized for low-latency communication, making it suitable for applications that require real-time interactions, such as online gaming, video conferencing, and live streaming.
Built on UDP: While WebTransport can work over both UDP (User Datagram Protocol) and TCP (Transmission Control Protocol), it’s particularly advantageous when used over UDP due to its reduced overhead and improved ability to manage packet loss.
UDP is a connectionless and lightweight transport protocol commonly used for applications that prioritize speed and efficiency over reliability and guaranteed delivery. UDP packets are often referred to as datagrams, and each datagram is treated as an independent unit of data.
Because of this lack of inherent order tracking and reliability mechanisms, UDP packets can arrive at the destination out of order, or some packets might be lost during transmission without any automatic retransmission.
WebTransport is still a relatively new technology and might not be supported by all browsers or widely adopted across the web yet.
WebTransport is supported in the latest versions of Chrome 117–119(beta), Firefox 118–120, and Edge 116.