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Getting to Know Respoke: Endpoints

One thing I found to be a bit confusing when I first started using Respoke was the concept of Endpoints, or to be more specific: how endpoints function within the Respoke platform. First let’s start with defining what an Endpoint is. At its most basic level, an Endpoint represents a user within the Respoke system. That being said, a “user” could be any number of things: a person connecting from their browser or mobile device, a server, a SIP phone, or even a Robot Chicken (if we could just get the good Doctor to add WebRTC support!). Basically anything with the ability to establish a connection with the Respoke framework can become an Endpoint.

Robot Chicken

So now that we know what an Endpoint is, the next thing to figure out is how to communicate with them. When connecting a user of your application with Respoke, it will be up to you to supply an Endpoint Identifier that will be used to identify the Endpoint through which that user can be reached. The Endpoint Identifier is essentially the ID of the user within the Respoke framework, and can be anything you want: an email address, a generic user id, or whatever other method you might use to track your users.

One thing to keep in mind is that a user might connect to Respoke multiple times with the same Endpoint Identifier, but not to worry, Respoke automatically maps all of these Connections to a single Endpoint. The advantage of this is that you don’t have to worry about tracking all the locations where your users are connected. Respoke will take care of sending any messages or calls to all of the Connections for an Endpoint. In the example below, Joe sends a message to Endpoint with ID foo@bar.com. Joe only sends the message once, but it will be distributed out to all the places where foo@bar.com is connected to Respoke (in this case a laptop, cell phone, and toaster!).


One last tip: You can get a reference to an Endpoint regardless of whether or not the “user” whom that Endpoint represents is currently connected to Respoke. I know this may seem a bit confusing at first, but stay with me! Imagine you’ve built an application that allows users to send messages to one another. You have a database full of users that are signed up for your app, and you want to be able to get notifications for when a user comes online. When the app launches, it pulls down the information about your users, and creates an Endpoint for each one. Now, not everyone is going to be signed into the app, but you can still create an Endpoint for them as follows:

So now that we have an Endpoint for user “foo@bar.com”, we can call methods like Endpoint.getPresence() to find out if they are currently online or not. The really cool part of this is if the user is not online, we can still create an endpoint for them, and when they do come online, Respoke will automatically connect them to the Endpoint instance that we have already created!

So that’s a brief introduction to Endpoints in Respoke. If you still have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment below, or head over to the Respoke Community Forums and post your question there. You can also find more information about Respoke Endpoints in the Respoke Docs.

Hack Arizona 2015 Recap


Hack Arizona is the largest student-led hackathon in the Southwest.  Respoke sponsored this year’s event, and I was fortunate enough to be the man on the ground helping the teams get up to speed on web communications and the Respoke framework. I can say without a doubt that this was one of the best hackathons that I have ever been to. Ian Tracey, Dillon Walker, and the rest of the HackArizona team did an absolutely outstanding job by recruiting an incredible group of over 400 collegiate hackers from across the Southwest, securing and setting up a really cool venue in the Science and Engineering Library at the University of Arizona, and managing the crazy 36-hour sprint to finish line. In rare form, the event went off without a hitch. The wi-fi was stable and fast, the mentorship teams knowledgeable and willing, and the Red Bull flowing in a seemingly never ending supply.

Things kicked off on Friday night with a keynote speech by Michele Norin, chief information officer for the University of Arizona, after which the madness officially began. Teams were formed, concepts created, Red Bull consumed (in lethal quantities), and the first lines of code were eagerly typed into several hundred computers. The entire library buzzed with the type of energy and excitement that comes from the promise and potential of a new idea.

Over the next 36 hours, the teams all had the opportunity to learn, experiment, and play with new ideas and new technology. Many of them choosing to use languages and frameworks they had never before laid eyes on. On a personal level, I had the chance to mentor several teams who created some really amazing projects, and I couldn’t be more proud of each and every one of them for stepping out of their comfort zones and stepping up to the challenge of learning something new!

As a sponsor of the event, I was tasked with picking a winning team from among the groups who submitted projects utilizing the Respoke framework. This was no easy task, but in the end, it came down to the team that came up with the most ingenuitive hack. The cleverly named “Team.getName” submitted an application called ShowMe which was able to capture a video stream coming from a Parrot Drone and attach it to a Respoke video connection. This connection was then shared with a remote third party who was able to not only take part in a video call with the drone operator, but also to see exactly what the drone’s camera was seeing. This project had some rather interesting commercial potential (think of a real-estate agent giving a virtual tour of a property, or an architect being able to survey a property from thousands of miles away), and the fact that it came together in a mere day and a half was truly inspiring.

There were a number of other really impressive projects created at the Hackathon, but one in particular, stood out as a favorite among all the attendees. Thomas Pryor created an Arduino based hardware hack which uses a set of flex sensors sewn into a pair of gloves to translate American Sign Language into audible communication.

All in all this was an outstanding event, and I truly look forward to the opportunity to take part in any future events that the team may put together!


Chrome Blocking Flash Plugin – Flash PPAPI to the Rescue

plugin blocked

A recent update to the Google Chrome browser has introduced a step towards the removal of support for the The Netscape Plug-in API (NPAPI). The result is that any pages that utilize a plugin using the NPAPI (such as Flash, Silverlight, etc.) will be disabled, you will receive a “Plug-in Blocked” notification, and any object on the page utilizing the plugin will display the beloved “missing plugin” image.

From here you have the option of individually enabling the plugin on a per-domain basis (this is done by clicking the “Plug-in blocked” notification, and selecting the option to allow plugins for this domain). This is a fast, but rather annoying workaround that will only work for the next few months until Google permanently disables NPAPI support (at which point, this option will no longer be available).

The Solution:

Unfortunately, the solution is to replace any plugins that use the NPAPI with new versions written using alternative (and still supported) methods. One example of this is the Adobe Flash Player plugin which now offers a version written using the Chromium Pepper Plugin API (PPAPI). This version will be supported going forward, and will allow you to run content requiring the Flash Plugin in new versions of Chrome. More information about the Flash Plugin update can be found at http://blogs.adobe.com/flashplayer/2014/12/flash-runtime-16-update-new-ppapi-installers-and-air-news.html and you can download the updated Flash Plugin at http://labs.adobe.com/downloads/flashplayer.html



With Googles decision to back WebRTC and other HTML5 based streaming and real-time communications API’s, I don’t find it the least bit surprising that they have decided to take another step towards shutting down alternative methods of implementing such functionality. While many people have been claiming for years that “Flash is Dead,” and I have finding myself more and more inclined to agree, this does serve as a gentle reminder of just how much content out there still runs on Flash. That being said, let us not forget that on the world wide webs, dead does not mean gone…

Getting Started with Respoke: Part 2 – Connecting to Respoke

Welcome to Part 2 of of the Getting Started with Respoke Series! In this section we will be covering creating an instance of the Respoke Client and connecting to Respoke.

In Part 1 of this series, we walked through setting up your Respoke account and creating your first App. If you haven’t done this yet, please take a moment to complete Part 1 now, as you will need these two items to follow along in the rest of the series.

Creating the Respoke Client:

Respoke App Settings

The first thing you will want to do when creating your Application is to create an instance of the Respoke Client. But before you can do this, you will need to get your App ID. The App ID can be found by going to Developer Portal, selecting the “Apps” tab on the left, clicking on the settings icon of the app you are working on, and scrolling down to the App ID section. Continue Reading

Getting Started with Respoke: Part 1 – Signing Up and Creating Your First App

This is Part 1 in a series on getting started using the Respoke platform. What is Respoke you ask? Respoke is an extremely easy-to-use platform that allows developers to add live voice, video, messaging, and data features to your websites and applications. Some examples of things you might do with this platform include (but are definitely not limited to):

  • Text Chat / Instant Messaging
  • Audio Calling
  • Video Collaboration
  • Peer-to-Peer Data (think direct file sharing from within your browser)

The examples I am going to cover in this series will use the Respoke Javascript Library which is open-source and available on GitHub at https://github.com/respoke/respoke. SDK’s for iOS and Android are also in the works and should be available early 2015.

Ready to get started? Let’s go!

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An Examination in Loss

Today I happened upon a post that I started writing over 3 years ago. I always find it interesting to read something that I wrote some time ago and compare and contrast the way that my views have changed since that time, but perhaps even more interesting still is to note the ways in which they have not…

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Error Establishing Database Connection on WordPress Login – Check Your Auth Settings

I recently downloaded a copy of my wordpress site to my local dev machine using the Duplicator plugin (works great by the way), and everything seemed to be working correctly, until I went to the wp-admin page. When trying to login via wp-admin I was presented with the message “Error establishing database connection.” Like most relatively intelligent individuals, I cracked open my wp-config file and checked, then re-checked, then re-re-checked my DB_USER, DB_PASSWORD, DB_HOST, and DB_NAME properties. As far as I could see they were all correct, yet the issue remained.

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Flashbuilder 4.7 Stops Reporting Compiler Errors

I finally made the upgrade to Adobe Creative Cloud, and thus far I have been extremely pleased with the new product line (the most notable difference being the compilation time and general speed of both Flashbuilder and Flash Professional). But, as with any new Adobe product, there are also a fair amount of really annoying and hard to diagnose bugs. The latest issue to plague me was that Flashbuilder suddenly stopped reporting compilation errors. As always, this resulted in a few frustrating hours consulting Dr. Google without much progress. And, as (almost) always, I finally found a solution.

The Solution (at least this worked for me):
All I had to do to get Flashbuilder to start playing nicely and reporting compiler errors again was to delete the project from my workspace (right-click on the project in the project explorer and choose delete, but select the option to not delete the contents), then re-import the project back into Flashbuilder (right-click in project explorer, choose import, then browse to the folder containing your project). That was all it took for me! Hopefully this will save someone from hours of head banging (at this point my skull is harder than steel!).

Flashbuilder error occurred during Finding occurrences – java.lang.NullPointerException

The other day I started getting plagued by constant pop-ups in Flashbuilder notifying me that “An internal error occurred during: “Finding occurrences””, the details then outline that a “java.lang.NullPointerException” is to blame. The partial stack-trace was as follows:

After a ton of googling on the error, the best solution I could find was to simply try and drag this window somewhere off the screen and ignore it. Unfortunately, this just wasn’t going to work for me; partly because Flashbuilder wouldn’t allow me to drag the window off screen, but mostly because I wanted to find a real fix! After a bunch of trial and error I was finally able to pin this down to a workspace error.

The Solution: For me the solution ended up being pretty simple. I made a backup copy of all the projects in my workspace, then deleted all the files (including the hidden ones) in my workspace. Next I pointed Flashbuilder at the now empty workspace directory (forcing it to recreate all the workspace files). Finally I imported the project folders that I had backed up. That seemed to do the trick for me. Now I’m just hoping that the same error doesn’t resurface in 20 minutes…

What to do when Flashbuilder forgets how to debug Flash Pro files!

After finally getting FlashBuilder to successfully edit and debug Flash Professional projects I was feeling quite triumphant, not to mention ecstatic that I could get all the nice bells and whistles of the Flashbuilder debugger while publishing to Flash Pro! All was good for about three days, and then, in standard fashion, Flashbuilder just forgot how to debug my files and refused to open them in anything but Flash Pro! This was completely out of the blue. I published once and Flashbuilder played nicely, launched the debugger, and let me inspect my properties. I launch again, and it opens the file in Flash Pro with no debugging!!!

After a few minutes of banging my head into the nearest table top, I took a deep breath, counted to 10, rebooted my computer, and said a little prayer. Unfortunately, Flashbuilder was still hosed after the reboot. I then asked the Googs for some help. Not much luck their either. Finally, I decided to pull a hail-mary and open up Flashbuilder preferences. Here I finally had some success!

What happened: Flashbuilder lost track of where to the Flash Debug Player lives.

How to Fix it: Open FlashBuilder Preferences -> Flash Builder -> Debug and look for the input for “Standalone Adobe Flash Player (debug version)”. Click on browse, then browse your standalone Flash Player Debugger. Click ok, and run debug on your project! That should fix the issue (at least it did for me).

If you don’t have the standalone Flash Player Debugger installed, you can download it from Adobes site and unpackage it anywhere on your machine, then just point at the file and you’re good to go (hopefully).