Discord Clone Development - How to Create a VoIP and Cross-Platform Social Platform?
Discord is a proprietary application entirely developed on public technologies. Today, Discord is not just a VoIP with messenger elements; it is a cross-platform social network with tremendous functionality.
They started with a communication platform for gamers. They developed their functionality to become a versatile and complete communication platform that offers the advantages of messenger minimalism and tons of adjustments.
Before diving into the technical development details, let’s look at the reasonability for creating a product similar to Discord.
Initially, Discord was designed for gamers; thus, its modern functionality has slightly an unfriendly interface, and many elements depend on APIs. It could be easier for an ordinary user without experience using a similar instrument with /bash commands for client management.
Discord has major hardware requirements. The more functions it implements, the more storage it requires. It is impossible to use Discord on PC, laptops, and netbooks with poor processors and low operating memory. Even more powerful devices experience issues with client optimization. Discord experiences the ‘’Chrome’’ illness. It is when a quick and compact application becomes bulkier and more demandable than the application it initially had to substitute.
It is optional to implement all functions at once to create a competitor. It is worth focusing on something specific, VoIP, IRC, or all other functions that make Discord a social network instead of a typical messenger.
Audio and video data-transferring optimization protocols are much more advanced now. It is optional to develop a data transferring protocol from scratch to provide privacy and swiftness simultaneously. There are ready-to-use protocols that are cost-efficient and fast. For instance, you could use the Matrix decentralized protocol that requires no servers for storing the message history. It works the same for audio and video data transfer optimization protocols.
Physical servers are not obligatory to provide numerous IRC servers. Initially, one can rent cloud storage or use protocols like Matrix and organize the data transfer according to the P2P system.
Users experience issues with navigation and other minor nuances. Discord offers a straightforward interface, yet many functions are uncommon for users. One could consider the standards of more popular alternatives like Telegram, Viber, and WhatsApp as a basis for their GUI.
Let’s cover what is necessary to develop a minimal vital Discord clone.
For a basic application, you will need to develop the primary function that you’ll later modernize. We do not mean that you need to establish a video messenger or add a complex hierarchy and GUI. We suggest creating something capable of becoming a Discord competitor and unique software solutions.
Select the suitable algorithm for text, audio, and video transferring. The most difficult is to select between optimization and straightforwardness. Not always, a well-optimized application is reasonable with traffic and is easily decoded on the client’s PC.
Select a suitable container for the entire content. Discord uses its independent servers as a container. P2P is an alternative so that nothing will be stored on servers. Still, it is essential to provide a mechanism so data will stay maintained for a while.
Develop the API. No one will enhance software better than the enthusiasts. The Discord community has made a major contribution to its bots and functionality. The community has even created famous bots that allow listening to licensed content without ads.
Optimize the GUI. Consider both the flexibility of adjustments and the basic preset. The most reasonable solution is to employ design standards, not reinvent the wheel.
Introduce the cross-platform fundamental at the early development step. Select the frameworks, programming languages, and other development means so the code will have a minimum difference on all devices. Java virtual machine or its variation – elixir are perfect examples.
Having defined everything above, you can start developing your MVP.
Before defining the approach to product monetization, let’s look at Discord’s audience, its methods, and the correlation of all users to subscribers and audiences that can pay.
All information is provided by the statistic aggregator.
Yet, the number has rapidly increased as Discord introduced server customization for fees in 2021.
The monetization solution for the Discord clone needs to be more evident. The company has a famous brand, yet only 4% of users have subscriptions. Hence, people need more time to be ready to pay for a product like Discord. Bots and API are distributed primarily according to the donationware model.
As a consequence, the product requires a different approach.
It is essential to maintain the balance. The application has to be easy to use and motivate the users to buy a subscription or make other investments.
Advertisement is not a solution because it is annoying. Technical limitation (streaming quality, connection quality, conference limitation) is not an option.
Thus, customization services as a monetization model remain.
The customization of IRC servers where users spend time; customizing their accounts. All these should function without affecting the primary functionality. Discord was designed for gamers, requiring gamification methods for monetization.
It is essential to stay reasonable and not develop a communication tool into a battle pass product with gacha mechanics.
To develop a Discord clone, it is worth understanding the technical part of programming a giant like this. The essential trio makes the application fundamental — C++, JS, and Python. In addition, it employs the React module for GUI.
Elixir and its virtual machine as a Java alternative. Elixir provides the ability to be a cross-platform application. Rust – a specific programming language with improved memory resource management. It has a lot in common with the C syntax.
To sum up:
Suppose we consider the product in primary startup mode. That is the bare minimum, which should be considered and adjusted for all said about the optimization of protocols.
Developing a social network is possible since it provides the message delivery means. Discord implemented it through servers. Each server is a separate channel (chat). IRC with a P2P network is also a vital alternative. In this case, the delivery of messages will fall entirely on the users of the system itself. And each of the users of the chat will be its local data storage. Be it audio, video, text, or files.
It is the primary function and most common pitfall. There are numerous ready-made protocols and optimal solutions in the VoIP market today.
Take advantage of off-the-shelf, or develop your own data protocol. Focus on powerful devices or old laptops and smartphones; data transfer when the connection is terrible. Here is a minimum list of problems that need to be solved when implementing this feature.
For a Discord clone, more is needed to implement a screen-capture feature for other users. The optimal solution would be to connect existing streaming services and screen capture programs – H-P integration of OBS.
Discord-style data storage can be done in several ways. Through renting servers for data storage. By creating your servers. Or make everything through P2P with forced copying of information to all participants of the "server/channel/room/chat." Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages in the operational and development phases.
One of the weaknesses of modern Discord is GUI. It has lost most of its flexibility while gaining typicality by following standards. When developing a Discord clone, to make it competitive, you need to optimize the interface, make it easy and readable, and still leave room for upgrades.
An approach can be taken from the free audio player Aimp, which offers users the ability to radically change the interface with ready-made skin packs or write their own GUI.
Worrying about the internal scripting language at the kernel stage of the future application is better. As mentioned earlier. The self-development capabilities will allow you to expand significantly functionality at the expense of the community in the early stages.
In addition to the API development itself, you need to worry about the SDK for the functionality.
Developing a product in the USA: 300 hours = $30k
Developing a product in Western Europe: 300 hours = $21k
Developing a product in Eastern Europe: 300 hours = $10.5k
Bear in mind that these are rough calculations considering only implementing an MVP without additional modernization, support, and proper approach.
The conclusion is ambiguous; developing a Discord clone is not creating VoIP messenger. Even the MVP stage requires creating something that users can employ as a constructor to modernize it the way they like. Moreover, keeping the balance between the freedom of creativity, security, code optimization, and resource employment is vital.