If BitTorrent, Dropbox or even email attachments are too much work for you, Sharefest offers what is likely the easiest p2p file sharing service around.
File sharing isn’t all that difficult; many, if not most of the people who will read this article engage in some form of file sharing on a regular basis (yes, yes, I’m sure it’s all legal). If you wish there was a simpler way to go about it though, without all the hassle of starting up BitTorrent or selecting permissions for files on Google Drive, there’s Sharefest. Sharefest combines a very simple interface with a surprisingly robust framework running behind the curtain.
To use Sharefest, all you have to do is go to www.sharefest.me and drag a file into the window. Sharefest will now produce a link which you can use to share the file. However, unlike a simple file uploader, Sharefest operates on a mesh network, similar to BitTorrent. All file transfers are peer-to-peer, and just like BitTorrent, the download speeds up the more people are sharing the file simultaneously. Curiously, Sharefest’s tracker does not need to know the IP addresses of the connected peers in order to work:
“To match two peers, the tracker sends the relevant peers a message through a WebSocket channel,” explains Weiss, “They then start a standard WebRTC handshake – SDPs which describe the local peer capabilities are sent through the server, and they start talking with the STUN server. The STUN server help the two peers create the real P2P connection, overcoming firewalls and NATs”
“We are fascinated with the potential of P2P communication within the browser,” explains Hadar Weiss who is behind the project, “We think that P2P is very powerful and there are great implementations such as BitTorrent. But P2P can reach its full potential only when it reaches the Web. Until then, it’s not really for the mainstream. For example, we like to ask ourselves, why can’t my mother use P2P file sharing? The answer, we believe, is in a user-friendly web technology.”
Sharefest uses WebRTC, a technology that enables browser to browser communication, such as file sharing or video conferencing, without the need for plugins. It is currently available on the latest builds of Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. “People talk a lot about the WebRTC revolution, and they mostly refer to the audiovisual world,” says Weiss, “We believe the change is bigger and that we will see many web applications that use the WebRTC Data API for things other than audio or video.”