The developers of the Nextcloud collaboration software have released the so-called high-performance backend (HPB) of their video chat software Talk as open source, such as the company writes on its blog. The code for this comes from the corporate partner Structure AG and is now, like the rest of Nextcloud, also under the copyleft license AGPL.
This should also enable smaller organizations such as schools, non-profit associations or the like to use Nextcloud Talk with a large number of users. Nextcloud cited the challenges of the current corona crisis as the reason for the disclosure, which users should be able to address with a secure and self-hosted solution.
In the standard version, Nextcloud Talk relies on WebRTC and peer-to-peer connections between the participants. With a larger group, however, this technical structure quickly reaches its limits. With the HPB, Structure AG therefore offers a central signaling server that takes over the routing of the streams. The connections themselves are further end-to-end encrypted.
With the HPB, the video chat solution should be suitable for 10 to 50 participants, which is thanks to the code you can now put it on yourself. Structure AG also offers one hosted variant of the HPB for Nextcloud Talk that can be tested for 30 days.
Innovations and backports for talk
In addition to the HPB, the Nextcloud team, together with Heinlein Support, has fixed some limitations of the previous talk architecture. Depending on the number of participants, the video quality is now automatically scaled, which should ensure better performance. Talk also receives backend clustering, which should improve scalability.
These innovations are available in the upcoming Talk version 9, which is available as a preview. The team also ported the performance improvements back to Talk 8, so that they can be used directly by users of the currently stable version.
With the upcoming Talk 9, the team will also simplify file sharing and beautify conferences with multiple participants. For this purpose, the video chat solution now offers a tile view of the participants and also simplifies the switch between highlighted participants.