Asking for feedback on (potential) new video conferencing plugin

Hello all

I'd like to solicit feedback on integrating our virtual presence platform with elgg.

Rather than give further background (which you might consider an ad or spam) suffice to say that we are doing some really interesting stuff (video chat, WebRTC) and integrating our software with the right frameworks is key to us.

We've completed an integration module for Moodle and there's some disagreement about which social/learning framework we should integrate next. So I figured we'd just ask, right?

So if you have an interest in plugins / conferencing / videochat / virtual presence in elgg take a look and tell us if an an elgg plugin would add value for you -- and if so how you would use it. Not sure here is the right place but we'd love to hear feedback via any of the mechanisms on our support page. -- thank you!! and sorry if this is OT, we're not trying to market or sell we just need to gauge interest level. Building stuff nobody wants is so .. 2010'ish.

(I know there are plugin and dev specific elgg groups but this is a non-technical question for potential plugin end users)

  • I believe this would be a very important development for Elgg. Elgg is an extremely powerful platform, but its greatest weakness is video implementation, a most important element going forward. I would encourage you to develop any video tools for the Elgg platform, I believe it will be well received.

  • For professional Elgg maintainers and hosting companies it is very important to know:

    1. Who is behind it the product? Clients need to be able to trust that you can deliver reliable services. (There wasn't much information on your web site.)
    2. Do you provide your platform as a service or can anyone host it on an own server?
    3. Is the price of your service affordable?
    4. How committed are you? Will the plugin maintainer keep the plugin up-to-date and provide support for users?
    5. Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions (These were empty on the web site)

    It says on the web site that BabelRoom is Open Source. However the source of the actual platform was not in Github. (Or at least there was nothing with the name "BabelRoom" except the Moodle module.) This propably mean you provide it as a service?

    Providing these pieces of information will surely help people form an opinion whether they might be interested in it.

  • the video chat function is certainly one that i am looking to use via elgg and am interested in any possible solution i may be able to use.
    the primary function that i look for with chat plugins is that they integrate with the elgg database so that user images and names come through to the video chat features - and ideally integrate with other elgg plugins too, such as tidypics (image gallery), videolist (youtube and other embeds) and event manager (google maps/events/locations)..
    the perfect video chat solution for elgg for me would be one that is fully integrated in all these ways and that does not require a standalone server to be setup (though i could do that if i upgraded my server).

  • i would be highly interested! i am thinking about doinga weekly webcast on my elgg site with a friend DJing live and along with it a chat room. so if you have a beta then i would be glad to help!

  • Especially, a webrtc chat plugin would be cool. Not only for video/audio chat but also for p2p text chat. It might take load from the server and allow for a chat plugin also to be used by sites with a smaller server. Though webrtc is still a feature that might only be broadly useable with future versions of browsers. I already thought that having a webtrc Elgg plugin would be quite cool and thought about coding it but I've not even found much usefull documentation (especially on the peerconnection part to be used in case of text chats or possibly file transfers). If you plan to develop such a plugin - for hosting the chat on our own server and not via a central server - I would be quite interested.

  • I would love to see a video conferencing plugin with text chat capabilites, but my community is more interested in using this kind of technology for screen sharing and webinars, along with text chat. Software like WebEx and MeetingSphere are increasingly being used, especially by government agencies, as people become more familiar with the concept and travel budgets shrink for attending meetings and conferences. If something like that could be implemented in Elgg for both individuals (e.g., invite all or a selection of reciprocated "friends") AND within individual groups, then my community would likely grow exponentially.

    For implementation, I would prefer that it is something my host could install and run instead of accessing a service. I wouldn't mind accessing a service if I could customize how the features were accessed and arranged on the site, and that I wouldn't need to constantly hire a contractor to program patches in order to adjust for changes to the service over time.

    For pricing, my first choice is a one time payment to purchase the plugin as-is in perpetuity, with unlimited users, and reduced prices for upgrades. If I had to pay a monthly fee, then I wouldn't want to pay much more than one of the other services I mentioned above. Another option could be for the conference host(s) or group admins to pay a low per minute rate for using the service. That way, I could implement it on the site but users pay to use it, with perhaps a split in that fee between the site admin and your company. Thus, the cost would be spread across only the people who use the services and revenue could be generated for the site. However, the greater the number of people who *must* pay to use these services, the greater the barrier to their acceptance and use.

  • Thanks to everybody who followed up my question.

    Based on this we'd be interested in rolling a basic (minimal, essential features) plugin and then see how that goes.

    I'll be posting followups on BR elgg plugin in -- the "Plugin Development" group - I hope thats the correct place. BabelRoom discussion is here:

    Thanks again all


    Responses to specific posts follow.......


    ura soul: Thanks for the list of elgg related plugins/features -- helps me as I get oriented!


    Turns out that chat is the easiest thing to have centralized. Even the signaling (peer discovery etc) for WebRTC is significantly more than typical chat.

    WebRTC is actually being used by a growing number of one-on-one tutors and their students. This makes sense as it's acceptable for them to require "latest chrome" version as a pre-requisite to study. Obviously not so for the casual browsers.

    Resources are available: everybody seems to start here:, there's emerging experiments which have evolved beyond that:


    Juho Jaakkola:

    Thanks for the detailed list!

    - This is indeed OS (under GPL v3), the server code is here

    - Apologies that our web presence is not yet polished, any lack of information/bio is a result of us having been too busy coding. Everyday we try to make it a little better.

    - You can run your own server: VMware VM and amazon public AMIs are available as noted at, as are instructions for building your own server.

    - Price: same as linux or any OS. That is to say the cost of hardware and your humans to install/maintain. A little higher as we don't have a large base of docs/knowledge/instructions yet, so your upfront research will be more hours (at least I'm honest...). But we don't see any of that money. Like any OS project we hope to monetize value added consulting services.

    - We are 110% committed to BabelRoom (about 4 man years so far..). Commitment to elgg plugin is naturally a function of how much traction / engagement it gets in the elgg community. As you rightly pointed out documentation is sparse, so we are seeking to engage communities who will ask questions and give answers so we build a base of knowledge.

    - Saas is an interesting point. As this is OS anybody could roll an saas. We do this now for free. We need to do this because most people will not run a server (at least in our experience with Moodle community). As our user base scales we can't afford to continue to do this. This is different from other OS projects as our costs are much higher -- nobody will use a conferencing system with bad audio (even free) and quality audio costs (1-2 ms packet delay means bad audio). A centralized service for audio and telephone interconnects is expensive. >>> The super interesting fremium model happens around WebRTC as we don't incur the same costs FYI <<<<

    Thank you again for taking the time to lay out your points and I hope my responses are adequate. I look forward to continuing more elgg technical discussion in the tech related forums. BabelRoom discussion happens here:

  • Ed

    - I hadn't read your recent post before I composed my response right now.

    Your sentiments really echo what we've been hearing a lot. Video conferencing is something that people find kind of sexy and often considered a "must have" for conferencing systems. However after the 1st 10 minutes audio quality becomes much more important.

    Most folks have actually been employing the slide/document presentation feature of our stuff. An interesting point is that the demand for screen sharing dissipates when the primary view can be shared directly rather than capture the screen where the app is running, e.g. upload the .doc file which is then displayed to all attendees with host having page control and (virtual) laser pointer.

    Your "groups" comment is very interesting -- was that an example or were you referring to an actual community (sorry noob here) - if the latter send me a private message with link?

    The pricing discussion is fascinating and I agree with your point that the more people must pay the greater the barrier to acceptance. I'm hoping the converse is true - hence our open source model. Give it away free to everybody under GPL and then monetize via consulting and custom development the 1% who want to run thousands of large concurrent meetings.


  • Thanks for the answers. I'm definitely getting interested. I hope the Elgg plugin code can be found from github right form the start. I might even make some pull requests!

    Your "groups" comment is very interesting -- was that an example or were you referring to an actual community (sorry noob here) - if the latter send me a private message with link?

    I think Ed means the groups plugin which is included in the default Elgg package. So the idea would propably be to start a video conference with all the members of a single group "with a click of a button". (Most Elgg plugins have a built-in integration to the groups. That way there's a personal and group version of each tool.)