Real-Time Communication in Web Development

Real-Time Communication in Web Development

Web Real-Time Communication explained with real life examples. ... aim to provide real time, peer-to-peer communication between web applications. ... and leaves it to the developer to create a mechanism of his/her choice.

There are a few ways of building a tool for real-time communication. Two of the most popular approaches presuppose the use of HTTP Long Polling or WebSockets. In the article below, you’ll find a brief comparison of both solutions. I decided to focus on the latter solution a little bit more. That’s why in the article, you’ll find a straightforward Socket.io tutorial for building a real-time chat.

What are WebSockets?

WebSockets API is a technology providing a bidirectional communication channel between a client and a server. That means that the client no longer needs to be an initiator of a transaction while requesting data from the server.

During the first request to the server, except receiving data, it also establishes a WebSocket connection. This process is known as the WebSocket handshake. The Upgrade header is included in the request. That’s how the client informs the server that it needs to create a connection.

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Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

WebSockets vs HTTP

So, does it mean it’s impossible to create a chat application without WebSockets?

Well, there is a technique called HTTP Long Polling. Using this, the client sends a request and the server holds that opened until some new data is available. As soon as data appears and the client receives it, a new request is immediately sent and operation is repeated over and over again. However, a pretty big disadvantage of using HTTP Long Polling is that it consumes a lot of server resources.

Socket.io — Building a Chat App

Below, I’ll present to you a brief Socket.io tutorial on how to create a simple chat application with Vanilla JS frontend part and Node.js server. You need to create a project with the default package.json file.

Having this created, you need to set up a server and install all the needed dependencies. In order to do it, you need to create an index.js file and install socket.io and express. You can use the following command:

touch index.js && npm install express socket.io && npm install --save-dev nodemon

nodejs programming web-development javascript ux

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