In my recent project, Qx-Manager, I encountered the need for a distinct form of communication that diverged from the conventional client-server architecture. The project necessitated bidirectional communication between various components. The key components involved in this scenario were:
It is evident from the graphic illustrating the communication channel utilizing the WebSocket protocol that this marked my initial venture into this protocol. In this blog post, I will share my observations and insights as I sought to dispel uncertainties and gain a better understanding of the technology I was working with.
Just like in any new endeavor, the initial questions that naturally arise are: What is it? What purpose does it serve? What are the prerequisites for using it? Is it freely available? This last question seems to be quite the trend these days :).
To address the question, “What is it?”
In essence, WebSocket is a protocol that enables the establishment of a bidirectional communication channel using a single TCP connection.
Needs to be covered
To get a little more in context and see the advantages and necessities that WebSockets address in comparison to conventional approaches, I present the following diagrams:
In this diagram, it’s evident that in the traditional approach, you will only receive additional information from the server if you explicitly request it. Any changes in status or updates will go unnoticed until you initiate a query.
In contrast, with a scheme like the one depicted below:
As illustrated in the bidirectional channel diagram, having the capability to establish a two-way communication channel allows the server to notify you of any changes in status or updates without the need for client-initiated queries. This not only provides real-time communication but also minimizes latency.
In the following paragraphs, we will address the question: What is it for?
WebSockets are utilized in various domains, including:
- Multiplayer online games
- Chat applications
- Error monitor systems
Prominent companies, including Slack, Trello, and WhatsApp, incorporate WebSockets into their tools for corporate messaging, project management, and personal messaging, respectively.
What do I need to use it for?
There are many technologies with which WebSockets can be used, some of which can be:
- Python, etc.
They all have ways of using WebSocket because, ultimately, it is a protocol, like HTTP is.
For our specific project, we employed “laravel-websockets” as the WebSocket server. As an alternative to “https://pusher.com/websockets,” which is a simple and scalable WebSocket solution, it alleviates the burden of creating, maintaining, and updating WebSocket server infrastructure that developers would typically need to handle. On the other hand, “Beyonce Laravel-Websockets” is an open-source implementation that allows us to create our WebSocket server.
Is It Free?
Indeed, the WebSocket implementation used in our project, “laravel-websockets,” is available for free. It provides a cost-effective solution for WebSocket server management, offering developers a powerful tool without the added expenses associated with proprietary alternatives.
As I conclude this blog, I can affirm that my initial experience with WebSockets has deepened my understanding of this communication technology. I eagerly anticipate exploring its potential in future projects. WebSockets have opened up a realm of possibilities for real-time, bidirectional communication, and I’m enthusiastic about witnessing how this technology continues to shape the digital landscape.