1. What is WebSocket?
The WebSocket API is an advanced technology that makes it possible to open a two-way interactive communication session between the user’s browser and a server. WebSocket is bidirectional, a full-duplex protocol that is used in the same scenario of client-server communication, HTTP starts from ws:// or wss://. It is a stateful protocol, which means the connection between client and server will keep alive until it is terminated by either party (client or server). after closing the connection by either of the client and server, the connection is terminated from both ends.
This is how WebSocket works:
- There is the client which is a web browser and a server, whenever we initiate the connection between client and server, the client-server made the handshaking and decides to create a new connection.
- This connection will keep alive until terminated by any of them. When the connection is established and alive the communication takes place using the same connection channel until it is terminated.
- This is how after client-server handshaking, the client-server decides on a new connection to keep it alive, this new connection will be known as WebSocket.
- Once the communication link is established and the connection is opened, message exchange will take place in bidirectional mode until the connection persists between client-server.
- If anyone of them (client-server) dies or decides to close the connection is closed by both of the party.
WebSocket works via three main interfaces:
The primary interface for connecting to a WebSocket server and then sending and receiving data on the connection.
The event is sent by the WebSocket object when the connection closes.
The event is sent by the WebSocket object when a message is received from the server.
2. How is WebSocket different from HTTP
|WebSocket is a bidirectional communication protocol
|The HTTP is a unidirectional protocol
|Can send the data from the client to the server or from the server to the client by reusing the established connection channel
|Connection-oriented transport layer protocol, we can create the connection by using HTTP request methods
|The connection is kept alive until terminated by either the client or the server
|After getting the response HTTP connection get closed
|Is a protocol providing full-duplex communication channels
|Is a protocol providing a single TCP connection
|WebSocket adds a number of features to manage the streams but leaves old semantics untouched
|The contents of each stream are HTTP requests and responses, just encoded and packed up differently
3. Advantages of WebSocket
- WebSocket is an event-driven protocol, which means you can actually use it for truly real-time communication. Unlike HTTP, where you have to constantly request updates, with WebSockets, updates are sent immediately when they are available.
- WebSockets keep a single, persistent connection open while eliminating latency problems that arise with HTTP request/response-based methods
- WebSockets generally do not use XMLHttpRequest, and as such, headers are not sent every time we need to get more information from the server. This, in turn, reduces the expensive data loads being sent to the server
- Data can be sent from server to client at any time, without the client even requesting it. This is often called server-push and is very valuable for applications where the client needs to know fairly quickly when something happens on the server (like a new chat message has been received or a new price has been updated). A client cannot be pushed data over http
- Data can be sent either way very efficiently. Because the connection is already established and a WebSocket data frame is very efficiently organized, one can send data a lot more efficiently than via an HTTP request
- Low latency means that there is very little delay between the time you request something and the time you get a response
4. Application of WebSocket
The WebSocket protocol’s numerous advantages over HTTP make it effective in a variety of applications, including networked AV and control systems. The protocol’s persistent connection and fully bidirectional nature enable a range of web services, hardware devices, and distributed systems to work together seamlessly. The decrease in latency offered by WebSockets permits the real-time information exchange necessary for fluid audio and video communication, which can be securely encrypted for sensitive applications. Finally, the extensibility of the protocol allows it to continually be updated with additional functionality as industry demands change.
Real-time web application: Real-time web application uses a web socket to show the data at the client end, which is continuously being sent by the backend server. In WebSocket, data is continuously pushed/transmitted into the same connection which is already open, that is why the web socket is faster and improves the application performance. In the trading website or bitcoin trading, that is the most volatile thing which is happening over there, for displaying the price fluctuation and movement data is continuously pushed by the backend server to the client end by using the web socket channel.
IoT applications: It enables IoT devices such as smart speakers and smart appliances to communicate fluidly, with minimal latency and a small code footprint. The widespread adoption of the MQTT subprotocol means WebSockets are already the standard for data transport in IoT devices. Having such a broadly accepted standard allows a wide range of devices to work together seamlessly, creating the potential for vastly distributed systems.
Gaming application: In a Gaming application, you might focus on that, data is continuously received by the server, and without refreshing the UI, it will take effect on the screen, UI gets automatically refreshed without even establishing the new connection, so it is very helpful in a Gaming application
Network applications: They are ideal for providing real-time transport and communication between AV-over-IP devices. For example, the BSS DCP-555 Template-Based Conferencing Processor uses a WebSocket connection in parallel with a standard TCP connection to allow the configuration of meeting rooms via a web browser interface. The DCP-555 also employs ticket-based authentication and authorization to provide secure encryption for sensitive applications.
Management applications: Similar to their applications in IoT devices, WebSockets enable seamless communication and control in large-scale building management systems. In IoT-as-a-service platforms like Siemens MindSphere, WebSockets allow massive distributed hardware and software systems to be controlled with a streamlined user interface.
In this context, WebSockets are playing a vital role in creating the next generation of factories, schools, offices, medical facilities, and living spaces.
5. How WebSocket helps developers
Build applications differently: Instead of developing monolithic projects, you first build independent components. Then, you compose your components together to build as many applications as you like. This isn’t just a faster way to build, it’s also much more scalable and helps to standardize development.
Data Transfer Patterns: There are different patterns you could consider when transferring data via Web Sockets. You could either transmit the message directly through WebSockets or send a notification to the client mentioning the message’s availability.
Browser Compatibility: WebSockets have good browser compatibility with almost all the browsers. WebSockets have built-in cross-origin communication. It enables communicating with any party on any domain. This can be controlled by defining the domains that the server can communicate with, which increases security.
Collaborative editing/coding: We can work on the same document and skip all the merges with a collaborative solution like WebSockets. It’s easy to see who is editing what and if you’re working on the same portion of a document as someone else.
Clickstream data: Being able to analyze how users interact with your website is critical to improving it. The cost of HTTP has forced us to prioritize and collect only the most important data. With the overhead of HTTP requests out of the way, you can be less restrictive about the kind of data you’re sending from the client. Want to track mouse movement in addition to page loads? Just send the data through a WebSocket connection to the back end and persist it in your favorite NoSQL store.
Financial tickers: The finance world moves fast – microsecond fast. Even if you’re not dealing with high-frequency trading, however, stale information can only hurt. When you have a dashboard tracking companies you’re interested in, you want to know what they’re worth now, not 10 seconds ago. Use WebSockets to stream that data and no one needs to wait. Location-based apps: More and more developers are leveraging the GPS capabilities of mobile devices to make their Web apps location-aware. If you’re tracking user locations over time (such as running an app that tracks your progress along a route), you’ll be collecting fine-grained data. If you want to update a Web dashboard in real-time (say, a track coach monitoring runners’ progress), HTTP is going to be unnecessarily bulky. Instead, you can leverage the TCP connection a WebSocket uses and collect that data easily.
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