/ Miscellaneous

A Brief Overview Of The Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP)

A Brief Overview Of The Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP)

If you have been an avid user of the internet and the modern applications, the word Protocol might not be unheard of for you. But have you ever wondered what exactly is a Protocol? In the simplest of terms, a Protocol can be defined as a set of rules that allows two or more objects in a communication system to transmit information through changes in physical quantities. Yeah, we know exactly how different the word protocol is in the language. This isn’t the first time we are astonished by it, right?

Now that you know what a protocol is, it’s time to dig deeper into the Real-Time messaging protocol and go through a few of the prominent pros and cons associated with it.

What is real-time messaging Protocol (RTMP)?

The real-time messaging protocol was proprietary and made by a well-known company called Macromedia. As Macromedia was the initial maker of this protocol, it was then bought by Adobe. Then, this protocol was released as, Adobe created Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) for sending audio and video streams, text messages and other data over the Internet. The basic principle of their work is to initiate a dialogue between the server and a specific Flash Player. Since RTMP is based on TCP, it is important to maintain a stable connection and ensure low latency communication. The RTMP server divides the information into segments to broadcast a smooth display and send as much data as possible. In this case, the size of the component is determined by the user's interaction with the server.

The protocol design which was initially made by Macromedia had many gaps to be filled. The real-time messaging protocol was then upgraded by Adobe and there were a lot of significant changes and variation which took place after this change in ownership. A few of such variations which have been highly well-received are elaborated below for your better understanding:

Variations of RTMP by Adobe:

  1. The "plain" protocol which works on top of and uses TCP port number 1935 by default.
  2. RTMPS, which is RTMP over a TLS/SSL connection.
  3. RTMPE, which is RTMP encrypted using Adobe's own security mechanism. While the details of the implementation are proprietary, the mechanism uses industry standard cryptographic primitives.
  4. RTMPT, which is encapsulated within HTTP requests to traverse firewalls. RTMPT is frequently found utilizing cleartext requests on TCP ports 80 and 443 to bypass most corporate traffic filtering. The encapsulated session may carry plain RTMP, RTMPS, or RTMPE packets within.
  5. RTMFP, which is RTMP over UDP instead of TCP, replacing RTMP Chunk Stream. The Secure Real-Time Media Flow Protocol suite has been developed by Adobe Systems and enables end‐users to connect and communicate directly with each other (P2P).

Pros of real-time messaging protocols (RTMP):

There is no such thing as perfect. Much like everything else, real-time messaging protocol has its own benefits but is associated with a few disadvantages as well. A few of such pros and cons are accentuated below:

  • The best advantages and features of the real-time messaging protocol is the transmission or display of audio, videos in many and of course countless formats. And also, the fact that you can add security to it too.
  • One of the most important benefits of RTMP in real-time publishing is the very low real-time transmission delay, who doesn’t like that? A true example of this is all the games people crush while playing.
  • RTMP has many more advantages than HTTP. Sounds sad, but not all devices in the world today are advanced technologies. Let's talk about the following set-top box: Not to mention the exception, we are talking about cramped boxes with hardware and firmware of the Stone Age. These big old computers do understand RTMP but don’t understand the HTTP based streaming technologies.
  • It has the head of advantages and it is that it gives you the upper hand of smart search capability as compared to that of HTTP enabled video streams and a flash player is to be used to relish this feature in order to work.

Cons of real-time messaging protocols (RTMP):

  • There is bad news for all the people who use iDevices like MacBook and iMacs but only to the people who use more than one device related to it. We all know that there is a partition line which separates a windows laptop from iDevices. And one of the most common features, we as people know is that all the iDevices do not support Flash players for some reason, so here goes. It will be easy for anyone to recall that real-time messaging protocol is old technology and therefore does not work in some specific environments. Let’s take the sad instance that RTMP does not support HTML. This is because RTMP is designed to be very different from the design of the HTTP protocol.
  • One of the biggest disadvantages is that it weirdly ignores port 80 of HTTP and works mostly on port 443 or 1935. Due to this dissimilar advancement, this holds a stop sign in front of the users in accessing files because of blocking by firewalls.
  • Renowned CDN’s don’t support the good old real-time messaging protocol. So, the streaming of CDN services are prevented.


In the end, we can just admit the fact yes, RTMP is an old and proven streaming technology. Flash Player, which is used to display video and audio over RTMP, is popular and widely used. However, there are limitations to this technology. Most have been overcome with a modified version of Flash. We can only see the coming world as a source of more advancement in the technical world and nothing else, so, who knows how well or how bad the real-time messaging protocol gets from here. Will it be able to achieve the mark or will it be left behind by the hard eyes gaze of competitors?