Facebook file-sharing app Pipe shifting from Flash to WebRTC

Facebook file-sharing app Pipe shifting from Flash to WebRTC


Pipe lets Facebook users send files to each other with a drag-and-drop interface. Behind the scenes, the app now uses the WebRTC standard to establish a peer-to-peer connection for file transfers up to 1GB as long as both parties are online.

Pipe just launched a new version of its Facebook file-sharing app, illustrating that the shift away from Adobe Systems' Flash Player to Web standards is getting steadily easier.

The new Pipe app uses a newer standard called WebRTC for real-time communications on the Web, the company said Monday. That standard got its start for Skype-like video and audio chats, but it's got a data-sharing ability too. The brains of the new app run in JavaScript, the universal language of Web programming, with a boost from the AngularJS project that makes JavaScript more manageable.

Pipe lets people send files as large as 1GB to each other when sender and recipient are both online -- a peer-to-peer connection that Pipe merely facilitates. If the recipient is offline, Pipe has to store the file for a time, and the limit is 250MB. (Pipe will hold the file for three days before deleting it.) Previously, Pipe had a maximum size of 100MB.

The company plans a premium service later with larger files and longer-term storage, company co-founder Simon Hossell said.

Pipe only launched last June, but the Web's move away from Flash means the company's move to a different technology was only a matter of time.

Flash doesn't work on mobile devices, and mobile computing is an ever more important part of people's computing lives. Pipe apps for iOS and Android are "a few weeks away," the company said.

At the same time, new Web standards can't always be relied upon. The new version of Pipe only works on Chrome and Firefox for now.

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