Rate this page:

Basic Concepts

This page is for reference only. We are no longer onboarding new customers to Programmable Video. Existing customers can continue to use the product until December 5, 2024.

We recommend migrating your application to the API provided by our preferred video partner, Zoom. We've prepared this migration guide to assist you in minimizing any service disruption.

For the Impatient

This document provides an introduction to Twilio Programmable Video. If you just want to start developing and play with some code you should jump to our Getting Started Guides:

Otherwise, if you just want to see Twilio Video in action you can can launch our Programmable Video Demo in less than 5 minutes. Enjoy our high-quality, full-featured and open-source video collaboration application:

The Twilio Programmable Video Platform

Twilio Programmable Video is a cloud platform that allows developers to add video and audio chat to Web, Android and iOS applications. The platform provides REST APIs, SDKs, and helper tools that make it simple to capture, distribute, record, and render high quality audio, video, and screen shares. Twilio Programmable Video has been built on WebRTC.

Twilio Video Applications

A Twilio Video Application is an application that uses the Twilio Programmable Video platform. To create a Twilio Video Application you need three ingredients:

  1. Your Twilio Account: Opening a Twilio Account is free. Once you have a Twilio Account you will get the appropriate credentials enabling the use of all Twilio’s Services.
  2. Your server application: The server application runs at your application server. It uses your Twilio Account credentials to grant access to Twilio Video services. The server application also uses the Twilio Video REST APIs to manage RTC (Real-Time Communication) sessions. You can download helper libraries for Twilio Video REST APIs in the following platforms: Node.js, Java, C#, Python, PHP and Ruby.
  3. Your client application: The client application executes at a web or mobile client. It uses Twilio client SDKs to capture, publish, subscribe and render the RTC information. Twilio Video SDKs are available in the following client platforms: JavaScript, Android and iOS.

Twilio Programmable Video - Application Architecture

How Twilio Video Applications Work

This section illustrates what happens in a simple one-to-one Twilio Video Application.

Create a Room

[1] Your server application tells Twilio to create a Room using the Rooms REST API.

Twilio Programmable Video - Create Room

[2] Twilio validates the provided API credentials and creates the Room. Twilio will keep track of the Room state until it is completed.

[3] Twilio returns the Room information to your application. This includes the Room SID: a unique identifier that can be used in latter API requests to refer to this Room. At this point, the Room is still empty.

Client 1 gets an Access Token

Clients need to obtain an Access Token to connect to a Room. This ensures that your application has full control of who is authorized to join the Room.

[4] Client 1 requests an Access Token from your Application Server. This is typically accomplished by making an HTTP request from your client application.

Twilio Programmable Video - Get Access Token

[5] Your Application Server uses your Twilio account credentials to generate a cryptographically secure Access Token using Twilio’s helper libraries.

[6] The Access Token is returned to Client 1.

Client 1 connects to the Room

[7] Client 1 connects to the Room using the Twilio Video SDK connect interface and authenticates using the Access Token that was fetched.

Twilio Programmable Video - Connect to a Room

[8] Twilio checks the Access Token. If it is valid, a signaling connection gets established between the client and the Room. At this point, the client becomes a Participant in the Room and can publish and/or subscribe to media tracks from other Participants.

Client 2 connects to the Room

Further clients can connect to the Room.

[9], [10], [11] Client 2 obtains an Access Token form your Application Server.

Twilio Programmable Video - Connect to a Room

[12], [13] Client 2 connects to the Room and becomes a Participant.

Media tracks are published and subscribed

[14] A Room Participant can publish audio, video, and data Tracks to the Room. In this case, Client 1 publishes a Track named T1.

[15] The rest of the Room Participants are notified of this Track publication and can subscribe to T1. In this case, Client 2 subscribes to T1.

Twilio Programmable Video - Publish/Subscribe to/from Tracks

[16], [17] Additional Participants can publish or subscribe to Tracks. In this case, Client 2 publishes a Track named T2, which is then subscribed by Client 1.

This example shows a simple one-to-one communications use-case. However, the Twilio Video Platform provides many more features including multi-party rooms, screen share, data tracks, recordings, compositions, etc. Check the Twilio Video Documentation for further information on our capabilities.

What's next

If you want to start building your first Twilio Video Applications check the Getting Started Guides:

If you want to see Twilio Video in action, launch our Programmable Video Demo. In less than 5 minutes you will enjoy our high-quality, full-featured and open-source video collaboration application:

If you want to dig deeper into Twilio Programmable Video check the Programmable Video Overview.

Luis Lopez Carly Vanderwert Sarah Stringer
Rate this page:

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 by visiting Twilio's Stack Overflow Collective or browsing the Twilio tag on Stack Overflow.

Loading Code Sample...

        Thank you for your feedback!

        Please select the reason(s) for your feedback. The additional information you provide helps us improve our documentation:

        Sending your feedback...
        🎉 Thank you for your feedback!
        Something went wrong. Please try again.

        Thanks for your feedback!