This monthly newsletter focuses on the various open source projects going on in the world, calling attention to a different open source project each month. Our objective at Alt Choice Tech Advisers is to increase the exposure of these projects in the business community. We hope these resources will be of great benefit to both your individual business and the community as a whole.
This Month’s Open Source Project:
Have you ever tried to call someone on Google Hangout using Apple FaceTime, or tried making a video conference call to Skype from WhatsApp? If you have, you’ll quickly discover that these various communication apps do not play nicely with each other. It’s nearly impossible to make a video or conference call from Google Hangout to Skype, which is owned by Microsoft. But think about it: I can call an Android phone from my iPhone and visa versa. I can send a text from my flip phone to a blackberry phone. I can even send an email from my gmail account to an outlook email account. So why can’t I make video calls from my android phone to iPhone FaceTime? What’s so special about video conferencing that everyone has to use the same client to connect?
Matrix seeks to address just this problem of interoperability. But what is Matrix? Do you mean the movie, or is it an application? In fact, it’s neither. Matrix is not an application, but rather an open standard protocol like HTTP, SFTP, or IPFS.
Matrix is an application layer communications protocol for federated real-time communication. This protocol is designed to allow users with accounts at one communications service provider or desktop client to communicate with users of a different service provider or desktop client via online chat, Voice over IP, and video-telephony. That is, it seeks to make real-time communication work seamlessly between different service providers, just like the standard Simple Mail Transfer Protocol does now for our day-to-day email service interactions.
Today’s online communication systems have several serious issues: fragmentation in protocol implementation, limitations in software client interoperability, corporate control, and lack of privacy and proper security. In particular, interoperability is a real problem for users. Very few of these services are interoperable with each other, which means most people use multiple services to communicate. Think about how many clients you use already: Slack, HipChat, or Mattermost at work. Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts at home. Because the people we talk to don’t use the same services, it’s not uncommon to have three or four different chat programs running simultaneously on our computer, mobile phone, or tablet
Matrix’s objective is to solve this fragmentation problem by designing a federated protocol for communication that enables users to freely communicate across a global network, without having to use specific services or desktop clients based on which ones your friends, family, and colleagues use.
The goal that Matrix is trying to accomplish could be divided into two parts: an immediate goal, and a long-term goal. Matrix’s immediate goal is to fix the problem of fragmented IP communications, letting users message and call each other without having to care what app the other user is on. It should be as easy as sending an email from one email application to another.
The longer-term goal is for Matrix to act as a generic HTTP messaging and data synchronization system for the whole web, varying services and devices to easily communicate with each other, empowering users to own and control their data, and have the freedom to choose the services and vendors they want to use.
To solve the problem of interoperability, Matrix built an open source, open standard interoperable ecosystem for communications over the internet. Instead of focusing on the re-creation of a new system, the team behind Matrix decided to augment the current internet protocol HTTP to do more. They did this by adding a layer that defines a set of open APIs for decentralized communication, suitable for securely publishing, persisting, and subscribing to data over a global open federation of servers with no single point of control.
Federation allows separate deployments of a communication service to communicate with each other.
Open standard means they have freely published the details on how to communicate using the Matrix set of HTTP APIs, eliminating the need for patent licensing requirements.
What separates the Matrix protocol from other, similar communication protocols is that you can:
- Communicate with anyone, even if they are not using Matrix yet.
- Choose where your communication data is stored and who has access to it.
It is time to bid farewell to fragmentation in the VOIP space and embrace the synchronicity that Matrix seeks to establish for everyone to enjoy.
I’ll strongly recommend you visit their site for more information and updates on this very pivotal open source project.