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Top 10 Worthwhile Uses of WebSockets

In today’s ever-so-connected world, even a second’s delay in loading the data requested by users can prove fatal to your web application in building user engagement. Perhaps you may: think building a real-time web application might save your product from such a dreadful situation. Unfortunately, you still might fail if your developer relies on hacks like AJAX long polling for web application development (Just for the record, long polling is a resourceful and functional technique to overcome standard HTTP client-initiated communication issues, but it has a few cons). The problem with HTTP long polling mechanism is that it still carries the overhead of HTTP. This is where WebSockets comes to your rescue. The WebSocket technology helps in achieving persistent and low-latency communication between client and server. Without further ado, let’s now talk about 10 of the best uses for WebSockets that illustrate when you should consider using WebSockets for your app development project:

10 Best Uses for WebSockets

1. Make Your App Go Social

In today’s social networking era, people are mostly interested in knowing what others are up to. And so, providing users with information that they are seeking in real-time can help keep the users hooked to your app. To be more specific, making your app social with push notifications and in-app news feeds about the latest events that happens within your application can help foster engagement and boost loyalty. However, building real-time feed updates using the traditional HTTP request-response model often causes delay in the relay of information between an app and users. This is where WebSockets come in handy. WebSockets help stream data in real time without any delay. But handling thousands of concurrent connections via WebSocket server can be challenging. Using PushFYI can be your ideal solution to provide progress updates on your application to users via WebSockets. PushFYI provides a set of APIs and other resources necessary for integrating live streaming functionality into any existing or new app.


2. Browser-based Multiplayer Gaming

Let’s say, you are playing some multiplayer gaming app and were about to get that winning shot when suddenly a pop-up window appeared warning you regarding your outdated flash plugin. Certainly, you won’t like getting disrupted when you are on the verge of winning the game. The same is the case with your users. With the help of HTML5 WebSockets API, the dependence on the use of external plugins (like Flash and others) for multiplayer game development can be substantially reduced. Most importantly, web developers can experiment, test and implement high-performance games in the browser (without relying on flash updates of course). Further, the success of a multiplayer gaming app largely depends on real-time data. And, WebSockets ensure highly efficient bi-directional communication which is crucial when you’re dealing with HTML5 canvas or DOM elements used for building real-time multiplayer gaming application.


3. Real-time Collaborative Editing

Communication can be little tricky when it comes to merging the edited copy of the document created by distributed dev teams. However, we live in an age wherein online connectivity has given us the freedom in where and how we work. But the freedom often creates challenges such as collaborating effectively in real time. Version control tools such as Git helps enable collaboration and allows tracking changes across the distributed team, but merge conflicts could occur in the Git version control system. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could work on the same document without the need to merge different copies of documents? This could be made possible with WebSockets. The technology allows web code editors in adding collaborative editing functionality in real-time. And so, you can see what the edits that are being made to the same document as that of yours in real time.

Real time Collaborative Editing

4. Analyze User Behavior with Clickstream Data

Analyzing how users engage with your product/website can help you better connect with them. This could be achieved with the help of clickstream data – that defines the pattern as to how users navigate through a site. However, using the traditional HTML client-initiated communication model creates overheads, which compel us to prioritize and gather only the most important data. But what if we require collecting more clickstream data in the future? With WebSockets, you don’t have to be less restrictive about the kind of data you want to collect. Wondering how? For example, let’s talk about Hotjar – a powerful tool that helps in analyzing and measuring user behavior (in the form of clicks, taps, and scrolling). Hotjar, basically, is a combination of analytics tools like heatmaps, visitor recordings, surveys, and more that assists in improving the user experience and performance of your website. When it comes to recording user sessions Hotjar initiates a WebSocket connection to the back end.

Analyze User Behavior with Clickstream Data

5. Real-time Data Visualization

Does your business success depend on numbers? If yes, then visualizing data in real-time can reveal anomalies that guide in quick and informed decision making. For instance, let’s assume you want to invest in stocks, in that case, observing the stock ticker (scrolling on the television screen at the bottom of any financial news sources) lets you keep a track of current information regarding certain stocks, eventually helping you stay on top of the trading market. Especially, if you are a rapid trader, delayed stock quotes will be virtually useless as the stock could have moved by a higher/lower percentage. Using WebSockets, however, helps in streaming real-time information about stocks that eventually helps in making better and informed decisions.


6. Go Live With Your Multimedia Chat

Are you having trouble in holding an in-person meeting? Do not fret; services such as video conferencing and multimedia chat provide a virtual meeting environment for hosting a meeting in real time. Conferencing and web chatting can only be made possible via plug-ins, however, most of the plugins work on standard HTTP protocol – that fails in delivering real-time interactions from within a web browser. To overcome such an issue, you should consider using WebSockets for a real-time connection that will help in augmenting the social experience of your users.


7. Signaling Mechanism for WebRTC

WebRTC is the de-facto standard for real-time audio/video support. Put it simply, WebRTC is a good choice when you need to carry out high-quality real-time communication between browsers, making use of JavaScript and HTML5. But while setting up the WebRTC communication, you will be required to involve a signaling mechanism. And, WebSockets could be your best bet here. Using WebSockets along with getUserMedia API’s and HTML5 make the live streaming of web audio and video a reality.

WebRTC Signaling

8. Live Sports Updates

You can find many sports enthusiasts who often seek up-to-the-minute stats and information about the game they love. What’s more? Avid sports fans are constantly on the lookout for the newest technologies, in general, any newest app that helps them keep track of the live score and other updates related to their favorite teams. When building a sports app the last thing you would want is latency in providing data in real-time. Rather than HTTP call, using WebSockets can help keep your app users up-to-date with sports information in real time.


9. Create Engaging Online Education Platform

In today’s digitally connected world, learning is no longer confined to books and/or classrooms. You can now follow a more flexible approach – online education to have a deeper understanding of the concepts you want to learn. You can even reach out to your teacher in an online environment and get the personalized attention to have concepts clarified. Likewise, you can interact with other students, which helps generate better communication. Without a doubt, collaborative learning/working is imperative for creating an engaging learning environment. And, this is exactly what WebSockets offers. The technology allows chatting, collaborative editing and other perks which help online education systems in building user engagement.


10. Track Progress with Location-based Apps

As the world is becoming more and more connected, users can easily find several options to obtain information about anything. For instance, you can quickly track unknown or other users’ location, leveraging the GPS capabilities of mobile devices. So, in case you are considering building a location-based app, you would want your application dashboard to display updates in real time. For example, Track Location app makes use of GPS location data besides accurate data Google Play location services to locate your exact location. Providing real-time updates on some new location or reading data about a route in progress via HTTP won’t be a feasible choice. However, leveraging the WebSocket connection (that uses TCP connection) will help in making your app allow users to communicate in real time from the browser.

Wrapping Up
Hope the above-discussed use cases of WebSockets will help you in making an informed decision about using the technology in the most relevant manner. If you need to integrate real-time features in your application using WebSocket technology, you might consider throwing away the current app and build a new one. This could be a time-consuming and costly process. But PushFYI can help bring real-time features into your app powered with WebSockets in just a matter of minutes. Want to know more about PushFYI, get in touch with our experts.

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