Secure video chat via pure WebRTC
Privacy is the driving force behind this project. It uses secure technologies like WebRTC to directly connect between participants. The website that provides the web app and mediates the communication stores as few data as possible and does not know anything about the contents of established conversations. No accounts are required. No cookies are used.
The difference between Briefing and most similar projects is, that it does not use a central server that distributes the video streams (SFU). The advantage of an SFU is that it saves bandwidth due to the fact that the own video does not being uploaded to each participant but only once. The SFU can also do more optimizations the clients might not support. But then the video signal is not end-to-end encrypted anymore i.e. you have to trust the SFU provider. Briefing instead sends data from peer to peer directly ("Mesh") and therefore the data does not travel over the server under normal operation. The WebRTC peers however still trust the signaling server for the authenticity of the peer-to-peer communications encryption in place.
Why starting another video conference tool?
During the Corona pandemic 2020, I tried to create a peer-to-peer solution for homeschooling called peer.school. Although the project has been retired for various reasons, I learned so much about WebRTC and video/audio communication, that I did want to reuse this knowledge in this project.
Why is it free and Open Source?
Only a free project does not require the user to create an account and unveil payment information, that could be used to identify that person. This is why the project is free and will remain free, as long as no additional costs like maintaining TURN servers etc. will require some funding. If you want to support me and the project directly you can via Github or via PayPal. If you are interested in sponsoring please contact me at [email protected].
Which servers are actually involved in a call?
Briefing is a PWA i.e. it is a web app, that can be installed from inside the browser on some platforms. To put Briefing on your home screen in iOS Safari tap on the "Share" icon and choose "Add to Home Screen". You can do the same in browsers like Google Chrome.
Briefing is available in the Apple AppStore. You can find sample code in the
Briefing is available in the Microsoft Store. The source is available in the
android folder contains a sample. Build your own distribution following this guide.
You can just use the installation on https://brie.fi/ng for free.
But in case you want to run it on your own hardware, it is important to understand what parts are required:
Frontend: The web app the user interacts with. You find it in the
app folder. Build it via
npm run build and put the contents of
dist on your server. Briefing uses some tricks to have the neat
/ng path working, and you can learn in the Wiki how to configure Apache to handle the routes correctly.
Signaling Server: You can use mine for the start, which is located at
wss://sig03.brie.fi. If you want to use your own you find the source in
signal. It is a simple node.js app that just connects peers in one room by helping to establish the WebRTC connection. You can learn from the Wiki how to do port forwarding in Apache.
STUN/TURN Server: You can use mine or any other for the start. STUN is required to get peer to peer connections through firewalls. TURN is used if that does not succeed. The later one can cause some server load. Learn from the Wiki how to set up such a server.
The wiki has some more resources.
Briefing needs quite some adoptions and modifications if you want to use it in your project. Please remember, that if you don't plan to publish your changes under EUPL, you'll need a commercial license:
Briefing is free and can be modified and forked. But the conditions of the EUPL (European Union Public License 1.2) need to be respected, which are similar to ones of the GPL. In particular modifications need to be free as well and made available to the public.
For commercial use please contact [email protected] for licensing alternatives.
My name is Dirk Holtwick. I'm an independent software developer located in Germany. Learn more at holtwick.de.