During lockdown, I decided to not spend all of my free time playing video games, and catch up on some programming. So a couple weeks ago, in between about 4-5 meetings, I put together a drop-in replacement for Zoom using the daily.co API.

Presenting: Meet.

Pull requests and Issues welcome. I've abstracted away all the Root-specific code, so you can now deploy your own instance of Meet to your own Netlify account with one click from the GitHub README and a few short configuration steps.

We've now completely switched over to this side-project at Root. If you video chat with us any time in the future, you'll be using Meet.

Chatting with Nina from daily.co

Why?

  • I wanted to use more custom theming, and better custom domain/routing than Zoom allows.
  • No application to download - video happens natively in the browser.
  • I can actually make it load much, much faster than Zoom, using the magic of a static site builder and Netlify.
  • I open-sourced it to demonstrate how easy it is to build an app on daily.co. That's what we in the business call "content maerketing."
  • I have a number of enhancements I want to make, like integrating with Google Calendar, SMS, and a few other things. (Maybe my reMarkable tablet?)
  • I can ***Add Value*** by giving some feedback to the team, and I can speak a bit more credibly to daily.co's next investors about the product. (even More Value Add!)
  • But most importantly, programming is fun, and so is dogfooding.

All that was reason enough, but since building Meet, as The Dude would say, new shit has come to light. It turns out Zoom is a privacy nightmare.

Daily.co uses a peer-to-peer architecture and end-to-end encryption. They offer a HIPAA-compliant product to protect personal health information (PHI), being used by several telemedicine customers today. You can read their privacy policy here.

How it works

Code here: https://github.com/rootvc/meet

Meet is a React app built on create-react-app. Most of the relevant code for video conferencing is in /src/Room.js, which loads the daily.co iframe and builds the HTML/CSS around the iframe.

The daily.co Javascript API is dead simple:

window.callFrame = window.DailyIframe.createFrame(
    document.getElementById("frame"), {
    showLeaveButton: true,
    iframeStyle: {
        ...
     }
});

let url = `https://${config.DAILY_SUBDOMAIN}.daily.co/${roomName}`
window.callFrame.join({ url: url });

Styles are defined in /src/index.css for the generic styles and /src/brand.css defines the Root Ventures specific styles. This should make it easy to brand it yourself if you fork the repo, without messing up the basic layout.

Finally /src/config.js loads a config object that stores values from the environment. The README defines what each of these variables do, but the key one is REACT_APP_DAILY_SUBDOMAIN.

Hosting

This simple app uses daily.co's front-end API only. Note that the front-end API can't do anything that would require your secret key (as that would then be served to the client.) You'll need the REST API for anything like that (e.g. creating rooms, recordings, deleting rooms, getting meeting analytics.)

So that's great. The whole app is a handful of static files, so I can host it on Netlify, a popular static site host that serves files from the edge.

Instructions for deploying on Netlify (with CI/CD hooks) are in the README.

Your turn

Try it yourself either by forking the repo or deploying with the Deploy to Netlify button in the README. Then just follow the 5 steps in the readme to configure Netlify, Daily, and the app itself.

Hopefully this shows you how easy it is to create an app that has video chat built in. Go ahead and make an account on daily.co.

Code here: https://github.com/rootvc/meet

Root Ventures is an investor in daily.co, a company that provides reliable, secure video chat and screensharing via a simple one-line API. Yes, I am totally talking my book. Sorry, not sorry.