In the early days of streaming, we talking about 1990′ , the Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) was the de facto standard for transporting video over the internet (or in laymenâ€™s terms, for streaming). RTMP is a TCP-based protocol designed to maintain persistent, low-latency connections â€” and by extension, smooth streaming experiences.
The protocol started out as live and on-demand streaming with Adobe Flash Player. Because this popular Flash plugin powered 90% of internet browsers in its popular days, RTMP was used ubiquitously. From live streaming to on-demand, to games and to live video chat.
The majority of encoders today can transmit RTMP, and most media servers can receive it. Even big social media players like Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and Periscope accept it. However, RTMP streams run into compatibility issues when it comes to playback on popular browsers and devices. And by the end of this year 2020 most browsers will stop supporting it.
In this article, weâ€™ll take a look at the RTMP specification, the history behind RTMP streaming, and alternative protocols to use.
What Is RTMP?
The RTMP specification is a streaming protocol initially designed for the transmission of audio, video, and other media data between a dedicated streaming server and the Adobe Flash Player. While once proprietary, RTMP is now an open specification, with a number of servers, or softwares like red5, wowza streaming engine, Nginx, and Adobe Media server.
The RTMP protocol has multiple variations:
- RTMP proper, the “plain” protocol which works on top of TCP and uses port number 1935 by default.
- RTMPS, which is RTMP over a TLS/SSL connection.
- RTMPE, which is RTMP encrypted using Adobe’s own security mechanism. While the details of the implementation are proprietary, the mechanism uses industry standard cryptographic primitives.
- RTMPT, which is encapsulated within HTTP requests to traverse firewalls. RTMPT is frequently found utilizing cleartext requests on TCP ports 80 and 443 to bypass most corporate traffic filtering. The encapsulated session may carry plain RTMP, RTMPS, or RTMPE packets within.
- RTMFP, which is RTMP over UDP instead of TCP, replacing RTMP Chunk Stream. The Secure Real-Time Media Flow Protocol suite has been developed by Adobe Systems and enables endâ€users to connect and communicate directly with each other (P2P).
- While the primary motivation for RTMP was to be a protocol for playing Flash video, it is also used in some other applications, such as the Adobe LiveCycle Data Services ES.
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