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Using the DataTrack API

In this guide, we will show you how to use the DataTrack API to send messages between Participants connected to a Room. With the DataTrack API you will be able to build powerful collaboration features such as whiteboarding, screen annotations, shared augmented reality apps and more. Read below to learn more.

Overview

The DataTrack API lets you create a DataTrack channel which can be used to send low latency messages to zero or more receivers subscribed to the data. DataTracks have the following properties.

  • DataTracks are unidirectional.
  • DataTracks have built-in mechanisms to support reliable transmission. Check out the section on Configuring DataTrack reliablity.
  • Recommended maximum payload size of data sent over the DataTrack is 16KiB.
  • string or byte data can be sent over the DataTrack.
  • The DataTrack API supports both Peer-to-peer Rooms and Group Rooms.

In the next section we will show you how to use the DataTrack API with the Android SDK.

Using the DataTrack API

Create a local DataTrack

The LocalDataTrack is a Track that represents data that can be published to a Room by the LocalParticipant

LocalDataTrack localDataTrack = LocalDataTrack.create(context);

Connect to a Room with a LocalDataTrack

Next, we want to connect to a Room with the LocalDataTrack we created earlier

ConnectOptions connectOptions = new ConnectOptions.Builder(token)
    .dataTracks(Collections.singletonList(localDataTrack))
    .build();
Video.connect(context, connectOptions, roomListener);

Publish the LocalDataTrack

After connecting to the Room, we now want to publish our LocalDataTrack to it.

LocalParticipant localParticipant = room.getLocalParticipant();
localParticipant.publish(localDataTrack);

Sending messages over the DataTrack

The DataTrack API supports sending string as well as byte data.

String message = "Hello DataTrack!";
localDataTrack.send(message);

ByteBuffer messageBuffer = ByteByffer.wrap(new byte[]{ 0xf, 0xe });
localDataTrack.send(messageBuffer);

Listening for DataTrack events

The RemoteParticipant class provides a listener interface. You can implement this interface to listen to published and unpublished DataTrack events.

RemoteParticipant.Listener participantListener = new RemoteParticipant.Listener() {

    // Participant has published data track
    @Override public void onDataTrackPublished(RemoteParticipant
            remoteParticipant, RemoteDataTrackPublication
            remoteDataTrackPublication) {}

    // Participant has unpublished data track
    @Override public void onDataTrackUnpublished(RemoteParticipant
            remoteParticipant, RemoteDataTrackPublication
            remoteDataTrackPublication) {}

    // Data track has been subscribed to and messages can be observed.
    @Override public void onDataTrackSubscribed(RemoteParticipant
            remoteParticipant, RemoteDataTrackPublication
            remoteDataTrackPublication,RemoteDataTrack remoteDataTrack) {}

    // Data track has been unsubsubscribed from and messages cannot be
    // observed.
    @Override public void onDataTrackUnsubscribed(RemoteParticipant
            remoteParticipant, RemoteDataTrackPublication
            remoteDataTrackPublication, RemoteDataTrack remoteDataTrack) {}
};

Receiving messages from the DataTrack

RemoteDataTrack.Listener dataTrackListener = new RemoteDataTrack.Listener() { 

    @Override 
    public void onMessage(String message) {
        // Should print "Hello DataTrack!"
        Log.d(TAG, String.format("Received data track message: %s",
        message));
        }
    }

    @Override 
    public void onMessage(ByteBuffer message) { 
        Log.d(TAG, "Received message buffer on data track!");
    }
};
remoteDataTrack.setListener(dataTrackListener);

Take a look at the Android Quickstart Application to learn more.

Configuring DataTrack reliability

DataTracks are intended for low-latency communication between Participants. Importantly, to optimize for lowest latency possible, delivery of DataTrack messages is not guaranteed. You can think of them more like UDP messages, rather than TCP.

You can configure the retry parameters for your DataTrack with the following options:

  • maxPacketLifeTime sets the time in milliseconds during which the DataTrack will transmit or retransmit a message until that message is acknowledged.
  • maxRetransmits sets the maximum number of retransmit attempts that will be made.

In Group Rooms, DataTrack connections are established between Participants via the media server. Under the hood, there is one connection between a local Participant to the Media server and a second connection from the Media server to the remote Participant. Twilio’s media server configures the same maxPacketLifeTime value on each remote Participant's connection. Therefore you should set the maxPacketLifetime to half the acceptable max lifetime for each message you send.

Need some help?

We all do sometimes; code is hard. Get help now from our support team, or lean on the wisdom of the crowd browsing the Twilio tag on Stack Overflow.

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