by March 12, 2013 0 comments

URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers) can be put to task for a variety of purposes, one of them being for connecting to applications outside the browser, such as Skype. Skype has its own URIs which can be used as needed in your mobile, web, and desktop applications. In this article we restrict ourselves to web applications.

SNAPSHOT
Applies to: Web developers
USP: Connect the Skype client to web pages
Primary link: http://ld2.in/4fw
Search Engine Keywords: Skype URI, URI, Skype, Skype
scheme, Skype web interface

Prerequisites, some known limitations and terms of use
A Skype client must be installed on the user’s device, and the user must have an active Skype account. Currently, Skype URIs do not interact with the Linux desktop client, Skype for Linux Version 4.0.
Using Skype URIs implies access to and use of Skype software, as governed by Skype’s terms of use. It also indicates agreement to the terms of the Microsoft Corporation Technical Documentation License Agreement, available at http://ld2.in/4fx.

Skype URIs
Embedding a hyperlink referencing a Skype URI in a webpage is all it takes to place a Skype call. For example, to initiate a call to someone with the username as pcquest, the link would be: <a href=”skype:pcquest?call”>Call PCQuest</a>

It’s indeed that simple! You don’t need to deal with the nitty-gritties, because clicking the link does the following tasks automatically:
1. Brings the device’s Skype client into focus, starting it as necessary.
2. Effects auto-login or prompts the user for their Skype name and password.
3. Typically opens a confirmation dialog to authorize placing the call.
4. Places the call.

It is also possible to generate and embed Skype URIs directly on your webpage using Skype.ui-a JavaScript function that you parameterize to embed a Skype URI having a pre-defined appearance and user interface. This offers much more control over what do you do using Skype and is a more dynamic approach.

Determining presence of the client on the visitor’s system
Owing to the number of different browsers, platforms and their combinations, determining whether a Skype client is available (on the visitor’s device) varies from “automatic” to “complex and unreliable”. Some browsers simply intercept the navigation failure, making it difficult-if not impossible-for your code to recover from the perceived error. For Internet Explorer 10 running on Windows 8, the browser detects that there is no application associated with the skype: scheme, and alerts the user. In this case, the alert will include an option to search the Windows Store for a compatible application which, if selected, shall lead the visitor to the Skype application in the store.

Other browser/platform combinations might prompt you to choose an application, and might even list Skype among that list-but fail silently even if you choose Skype. Still other browser/platform combinations might believe the Skype client is installed when it is not, or simply fail silently. Specifically, the following browser/platform combinations fail to properly detect whether the Skype client is installed:
– Any browser running on Windows Phone 8
– Google Chrome running on Android (Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jelly Bean)
– Native Android browser (“globe” icon) running on Android (Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jelly Bean).

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