How to Build a Remote Desktop Software Application
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How to build a remote desktop software application is likely a question you are asking yourself if you are planning to target the growing market of remote desktop software. Developing such software can be complex.
Here are a few examples of recent applications completed by DevTeam.Space developers:
- Dot VPN: Our team built an application for anonymous, secure, and convenient web surfing.
- Recognition of air signatures for AirSign: Our Machine Learning (ML) development team developed an algorithm and a mobile app to implement biometrics according to the data provided by the inertial navigation sensors.
- Face, sex, age, video emotion recognition system for NEC: Our ML team created a complex video analytics system to identify people based on facial recognition.
Utilizing this expertise, we explain here how to build remote desktop software. Read on.
What is remote desktop software?
A remote desktop software helps you to display the desktop environment of a personal computer on another computer. You run your computer, and I view your desktop environment on my computer with the help of remote desktop software.
Several companies provide such software. TeamViewer is an example. Popular remote desktop software work with different operating systems, e.g., Windows, macOS, Linux, etc. They support all popular browsers like Chrome, Firefox, etc. Leading remote desktop software products allow you to use them on mobile devices like Android, iOS, etc.
Use cases of remote desktop software, e.g., supporting users that work from home
Let’s discuss a few use cases of remote desktop software, e.g.:
- Assume that you bought a software product. You face an issue with the software, and you need help. You contact the customer support team of the vendor. A customer support team member uses a remote desktop software to access your computer. Customer support team members troubleshoot the problem without visiting your premises.
- Assume you have remote workers in your company. They could be working from home. Alternatively, they work in an office without a help desk. These users face challenges with their computers, and the IT help desk needs to provide remote support to them. Your IT support team uses a remote desktop software for troubleshooting problems on remote computers.
- Assume that your organization manages cloud computing infrastructure, e.g., cloud storage. You have data centers in many regions. Certain platform support responsibilities require specialized skills, and you don’t have that in some of the offices. Experienced engineers in your organization need to implement a support solution remotely. The process takes several hours, and they need to reboot servers remotely. Your experienced engineers need unattended access to remote computers. They use remote desktop software for this.
The market of remote desktop software
There is a growing market for remote desktop software. The following observations illustrate that:
- A “Research and Markets” report states that this market will grow from $1.596 billion in 2019 to $3.829 billion in 2025. That translates to a CAGR of 15.71% during the 2020-2025 period.
- A Globe Newswire report states that the market for remote desktop software will grow from $1.53 billion in 2019 to $4.69 billion in 2027. This report projects a CAGR of 15.1% during the 2020-2027 period.
Reviewing a few popular remote access software
Review one or more of the following popular remote desktop software before you undertake a software development project to build such a product. This will provide useful design ideas.
1. TeamViewer Remote Desktop
TeamViewer Remote Desktop is a leading remote access software. It supports popular operating systems like Windows, macOS, Chrome OS, and Linux. This product focuses on the user experience, furthermore, it offers productivity and security. TeamViewer offers pricing plans for a single user, multiple users, and teams.
2. LogMeIn Pro
LogMeIn Pro is a popular remote desktop connection software from LogMeIn. It supports Windows and Mac, and it supports popular browsers. LogMeIn Pro supports Android and iOS. This remote desktop software offers speed, ease of use, and remote control.
LogMeIn Pro offers other features like cloud storage, password management, remote printing, and multi-monitor display. It offers pricing plans for individual users, power users, and businesses.
3. Zoho Assist
Zoho Assist is a cloud-based remote desktop software from Zoho. It supports all popular desktop, laptop, and mobile platforms. Zoho Assist offers security and ease of use. You can use it for relevant use cases like outsourced IT support, customer support, IT helpdesk, etc. The company offers a wide range of pricing plans, furthermore, it offers a free trial.
4. VNC Connect
VNC Connect is a remote desktop software from RealVNC. It offers a screen-sharing feature. You can connect to a remote computer and watch its screens in real-time. You can take control of the remote computer securely when you need it.
VNC Connect supports all key desktop and mobile platforms. It offers simplicity and flexibility. With 256-bit AES encryption and two-factor authentication, VNC Connect offers robust security. VNC Connect offers pricing plans for personal use, small businesses, and enterprises.
RemotePC is a popular remote desktop software from IDrive. It supports all the key operating systems like Windows, Mac, and Linux. RemotePC enables you to connect with remote devices. It allows you to transfer files and print documents remotely. RemotePC offers collaboration tools for team members.
You can use the screen share feature offered by RemotePC, furthermore, it offers a video conferencing solution. IDrive offers cloud storage capabilities with RemotePC. RemotePC offers a wide range of pricing plans.
Splashtop is a well-known remote access software. You can use it for important use cases like remote computer access for employees working from home. Splashtop helps remote support teams to access computers remotely.
It offers ease of use and speed. Splashtop provides you with a secure remote desktop platform that protects privacy. The company complies with relevant regulations, e.g., SOC 2, GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, etc. Splashtop provides pricing plans for individuals, businesses, and managed services providers (MSPs). The company offers a free trial.
7. Chrome Remote Desktop
Google developed Chrome Remote Desktop and launched it in 2011. This remote desktop software supports popular operating systems like Windows, OS X, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, and iOS. Chrome Remote Desktop offers key features like screen sharing, file sharing, and remote access. It’s secure and easy to use.
8. Microsoft Remote Desktop Assistant
Microsoft Remote Desktop Assistant allows you to access your computer remotely. Microsoft provides guides for you to configure it. Microsoft Remote Desktop Assistant supports Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. It offers 3 editions for this, namely, “Professional”, “Ultimate”, and “Enterprise”.
How do you build remote access software?
Take the following steps to build remote access software.
1. Strategize on offerings, pricing, etc. for the proposed remote work software
You need to decide which user segments to serve. Decide on the use cases, e.g., remote IT helpdesk support, remote support by managed services providers (MSPs), and remote customer support.
Strategize on your pricing model. Would you offer a free version with limited features? Alternatively, will you offer paid plans only?
Would you offer a free trial? Do you plan to collect the credit card information of potential users in that case? Use tools like market research, brainstorming, etc. to strategize.
2. Decide on the features to offer in a remote desktop access software
You need to onboard a competent project manager (PM), a software architect, and a team of business analysts (BAs). Decide on the features to offer, e.g.:
- Access to remote computers;
- Screen sharing;
- File transfer;
- Video conferencing and video chat;
- Session recording;
- Drag and drop tools;
- Collaboration tools like online whiteboards;
- Integration with popular tools like Slack;
- Cross-platform support and compatibility with popular operating systems like Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS;
- Compatibility with the Chrome browser and other popular browsers like Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Edge;
- Workflow and automation features.
Decide whether you will offer desktop apps, web apps, and/or mobile apps. Finalize the user interface design parameters.
After deciding on the functionality, document the non-functional requirements (NFRs). These include the following:
Our guide to writing a product requirements document can help.
3. Plan the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for your proposed remote desktop software
By now, you have decided on the features to offer. We recommend you validate your business ideas and assumption first. You should build an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). It needs to be a functional product even if it has fewer features. An MVP helps you to get market feedback. Subsequently, you can enhance the product.
How do you prioritize the features to offer in an MVP? As we have explained in our guide to an MVP, use the following tools and techniques:
- “Pain and gain map”;
- “Prioritization matrix”.
4. Planning to develop the key functionality of a remote work software application
While you might offer several features in your proposed remote desktop software, focus adequately on the two key features. These are as follows:
- Accessing remote computers;
- Interacting with remote computers securely;
- Data encryption.
Your team needs to study the key technologies involved in these. These are as follows:
A. Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)
The RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) software allows one computer to access a remote computer. Apart from establishing a connection, such a software protocol enables you to control data and resources on a remote computer.
As an article from Parallels explains, an RDP software is a Virtual Network Computing (VNC)-based application. A communication system based on RDP uses many virtual channels.
This system uses these channels to transmit data. This data can include the following:
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- Serial device signals;
- Presentation data;
- Licensing information;
- Encrypted data between remote servers and clients.
An RDP software transmits the monitor of a remote desktop to a client. Users take actions like clicking the mouse or entering keyboard inputs. These actions get executed on the remote computer.
An RDP software decomposes the connection into 9 stages, which are as follows:
- Connection initiation;
- Basic handshake;
- Channel connection;
- Security initiation;
- Secure settings exchange;
- Capabilities exchange;
- Connection finalization;
- Data exchange.
B. Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows you to browse the Internet with privacy and security. A VPN provider uses a VPN protocol program and encryption. It works by setting up a secure tunnel between your computer and the Internet website that you access.
External entities like governments, ISPs (Internet Service Providers), or hackers can’t snoop on you. The encrypted tunnel acts as a black box for them.
You need to provide security and privacy in remote desktop software. Studying the technology solutions in popular VPN protocols can help you. We recommend you review OpenVPN, the most secure VPN protocol.
The open-source code of OpenVPN is an advantage. You can study the OpenVPN protocol and understand how to implement your remote desktop solution.
C. The 256-bit AES encryption algorithm
Several popular encryption algorithms exist, however, 256-bit AES encryption is the strongest among them. You might need to study how to use it.
Assume you plan to develop your proposed app using Java. This popular programming language is good for enterprise-scale development. Study a relevant guide on Java AES encryption and decryption.
5. Planning to develop the secondary features of a remote desktop tool
In addition to the key features, you might offer other features. You would need to study the technology solutions relevant to them. Consider the following examples:
- Video conferencing: WebRTC (Web Real-time Communication) is a popular protocol that helps to implement the video call feature on a remote desktop support software. The WebRTC project is open-source. You can use it on the web, Android, and iOS.
- Secure file transfer: SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) is a secure file transfer protocol. SFTP runs over the SSH protocol. Therefore, it takes advantage of the security and authentication features of SSH. SFTP prevents various types of cyber-attacks like “password sniffing” and “Man-in-the-middle”. This protocol uses encryption and cryptographic hash functions to protect the integrity of the data transferred.
6. Choose an MCSP (Managed Cloud Services Provider) to create a remote desktop access software
We recommend you use a cloud computing platform. Several prominent MCSPs (Managed Cloud Services Providers) offer comprehensive cloud services. A few examples are AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure, however, this isn’t an exhaustive list.
Your project requirements influence what kind of cloud platform you choose. The key options are as follows:
- IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service): An MCSP provides the cloud infrastructure, e.g., servers, networking, etc. You do the rest. You need competent cloud platform architects along with a complete software development team. Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) is an IaaS offering.
- PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service): Here, an MCSP takes care of the servers, networking, operating system, middleware, and runtime environment. The cloud provider also offers several services like databases, DevOps tools, etc. You bring your code and data. AWS Elastic Beanstalk is an example.
- MBaaS (Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service): This is relevant to mobile app development projects. An MCSP handles the cloud infrastructure and persistent storage. The cloud provider makes it easy to integrate APIs. This makes the development and maintenance of the mobile backend easy, and you focus on the front-end. E.g., AWS Amplify is the MBaaS offering from AWS.
Analyze your project requirements to choose the right MCSP and cloud platform.
7. Decide on the technology stack to build a remote desktop software
Choose the appropriate technology stack for your project. E.g.:
- Desktop app: We recommend you choose Java for this. Java helps you to build enterprise-scale applications, furthermore, it offers security. Many developers know this prominent programming language.
- Native Android development: You can use either Java or Kotlin for native Android development.
- Native iOS development: Plan to use either Swift or Objective-C for native iOS development.
- MySQL or PostgreSQL: You will need an RDBMS (Relational Database Management System) for this project. We recommend you use MySQL or PostgreSQL. Both of these open-source SQL databases are scalable and easy to use.
- MongoDB or Apache Cassandra: Both MongoDB and Apache Cassandra are scalable and easy-to-use NoSQL databases. They are open-source databases.
A few notes:
- You might need to use technologies like RDP, OpenVPN, WebRTC, and SFTP, and we talked about that.
- Consider developing RESTful APIs if you need to create your own APIs. REST (Representational State Transfer) is the de-facto standard in API development.
- Use Python if you plan to offer AI (Artificial Intelligence)/ML (Machine Learning) capabilities. This open-source programming language is a great choice for AI/ML development.
8. Hire a development team to build a remote access software
You now need to hire the complete development team. In addition to programmers, you need UI designers, testers, and DevOps engineers.
While you might think of hiring freelancers, we recommend you exercise caution. You might find freelancers at a low hourly rate on popular freelance platforms. Freelancers work part-time though. Freelance platforms don’t offer management support. You need to find replacements if freelancers leave the project mid-way.
We recommend you hire developers from software development companies. These companies offer management support. They offer individual developers as well as complete teams. They provide full-time developers. Finally, they provide replacements if a developer leaves the project mid-way.
9. Manage the development, testing, and deployment of the proposed remote desktop access software
We recommend you build empowered teams. This helps you to manage the project effectively, and you can deliver value to end-users. Foster an environment of collaboration.
Use the “Scrum” technique to manage this project. Build “Scrum teams”. These are small teams that are cross-functional. Developers and testers work together in such teams, and we call them “Scrum” teams. A “Scrum master” leads the team.
“Scrum teams” plan the “sprints”. i.e., iterations. They collaborative resolve project issues by conducting “stand-up meetings”. “Scrum teams” conduct “sprint review meetings”, where they demonstrate the functional product. Business stakeholders approve an iteration if the product works according to the specification.
“Scrum teams” conduct “Sprint retrospective meetings” after “Sprints”, which are “lessons-learned” exercises. They focus on delivering value and not on excessive documentation.
Using AI (Artificial Intelligence) in a remote desktop tool
The idea of AI remote desktop software is gaining popularity. You can combine AI capabilities and remote desktop software to make help desk operations more streamlined. We have earlier explained the advantages of artificial intelligence. AI processes a massive amount of data, and it provides decision-making capabilities to computers.
You can AI in the following ways when you offer a remote support tool:
- AI and ML (Machine Learning) algorithms can analyze customer support tickets to identify tickets that need helpdesk interventions. An AI-powered solution can route them to helpdesk representatives.
- An AI chatbot can handle tickets that don’t require support from a human helpdesk representative. AI chatbots can provide relevant articles from the knowledge base of the organization to the users. These chatbots can also provide resolutions to simple queries.
- The AI system learns from “experience”, i.e., massive data sets of helpdesk tickets. It improves its routing and ticket resolution capabilities. The organization can then use its remote helpdesk support representatives to resolve more complex tickets.
We talked about how you can build a remote work software application. Keep in mind that such projects often tend to be complex. Contact DevTeam.Space if you need software development support.
When you wonder how to build remote work software, you need to first focus on forming a competent team. Such projects tend to be complex. Having capable and experienced software development teams to navigate complexities. Contact DevTeam.Space if you need help.
You will use a “Remote Desktop Protocol” (RDP) software to allow users to connect to remote computers. Security is key here. Bugs in your application will create security vulnerabilities. Code review is very important to identify and resolve defects in such software.