Tuesday, December 31, 2013

WebSockets vs Server-Sent Events vs Long-polling

Apparently social networking is the banner of the nowadays web. Everybody intends bringing some features into his projects. Some of them require immediate notification. That is getting common, if you open a page with upcoming messages (status feed, notification subsystem, friends-list), you expected them being updated as soon as a new message (status, notification, friend-making action) arrives. As you well know, original web design allowed only one-way client-server communication (one requests, another one responds), though now HTML5 working group doing their best to fix it or rather to patch it. However, the web-projects are still using long-polling trick to emulate server-client communication.
Well, now new web browser versions appear every few months. Besides they update automatically. Thus a huge number of users have the latest browser versions, which support HTML 5 communication APIs. Is that the time to put long-polling away? Let’s find out.
Our test task will be something you may likely need if you have on your site any sort of user communication. That is notification of user actions. In the simplest case when the user gets a private message, the number of unread notifications increases in the user panel. We will solve the task using long-polling, Server-Sent Events and WebSockets. Then we compare the results.
First of all let’s examine the common code used in the examples. We will need configuration file, a library to access DB, a model to retrieve unread notification number and to add a new notification.
Usually such communication API examples don’t include any business logic, but execution delays to emulate the model working. I would like to make it close to the real application, what is meant to help when comparing memory/CPU usage on the server for each of the cases.
So, we will need a dump DB table:

?
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS `notification` (
  `id` int(10) unsigned NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
  `recipientUid` int(10) unsigned NOT NULL,
  `eventId` int(10) unsigned NOT NULL,
  `isNew` tinyint(1) unsigned NOT NULL DEFAULT '1',
  PRIMARY KEY (`id`),
  KEY `IX_recipientUid` (`recipientUid`),
  KEY `IX_isNew` (`isNew`)
) ENGINE=InnoDB  DEFAULT CHARSET=utf8 COMMENT='User notifications';

Here is the model:
?
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
class Model_UserNotification
{
   private $_db;
 
 
   public function  __construct(Lib_Db $db)
   {
        $this->_db = $db;
   }
   /**
    *
    * @param int $recipientUid
    * @return int
    */
   public function fetchNumberByRecipientUid($recipientUid)
   {
       return $this->_db->fetch("SELECT count(*) as count "
           . " FROM notification WHERE recipientUid = %d AND isNew = 1"
           , $recipientUid)->count;
   }
   /**
    *
    * @param int $recipientUid
    * @param int $eventId
    */
   public function add($recipientUid, $eventId)
   {
       $this->_db->update("INSERT INTO "
           . " notification (`id`, `recipientUid`, `eventId`, `isNew`) VALUES (NULL, '%d', '%d', '1')"
           , $recipientUid, $eventId);
   }
   /**
    *
    * @param int $recipientUid
    */
   public function removeAll($recipientUid)
   {
       $this->_db->update("DELETE FROM "
           . " notification WHERE recipientUid = %d"
           , $recipientUid);
   }
}

Long pulling

 Long-polling technique explanation

How it works

Client application (browser) sends a request with event recipient id (here is the user, registered on the page) and current state (the displayed number of unread notification) to the server via HTTP. It creates an Apache process, which repeatedly checks DB until the state is changed in there. When the state eventually changed, the client gets the server response and sends next request to the server.

Implementation

Client side contains simple HTML with two input fields to show response data (updated number of unread notifications and time of the response event). JS module sends recipient user id and current state (unread notification number) to the server as XMLHttpRequest. To make possible cross-domain communication, we use JSONP and that means the handler must of the public scope.

?
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
...
Recipient id:
Notifications: "notificationNum" size="4" name="some" value="" />
Last event arrived at: "time" size="12" name="some" value="0" />
 

Server waits 3 second than check if the updated state matches the given one. If the state has changed in the DB, the server responds otherwise it repeats the cycle.

?
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
//...
$recipientUid = (int)$_REQUEST["recipientUid"];
$displayedNotificationNum = (int)$_REQUEST["displayedNotificationNum"];
$secCount = 0;
 
do {
    sleep(IDLE_TIME);
    $updatedNotificationNum = $model->fetchNumberByRecipientUid($recipientUid);
} while ($updatedNotificationNum == $displayedNotificationNum);
 
header("HTTP/1.0 200");
printf ('%s({"time" : "%s", "updatedNotificationNum" : "%d"});'
    , $_REQUEST["callback"], date('d/m H:i:s'), $updatedNotificationNum);

Client side receives new state from the server, displays and sends to the server the new state to repeat the workflow.

 Long-polling technique usage example screenshot

Server-Sent Events


 Server-Sent Event API explanation

How it works

Client (browser) sends a request to the server via HTTP. It creates a process, which fetches latest state in the DB and responds back. Client gets server response and in 3 seconds sends next request to the server.

Implementation

HTML on client-size has again two input fields to show response data. JS module opens EventSource and passes though the connection recipient user id.

?
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
...
Recipient id:
Notifications: "notificationNum" size="4" name="some" value="" />
Last event arrived at: "time" size="12" name="some" value="0" />
 

Server responds into the data stream with the last state (unread notification number) regarding the recipient user id.

?
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
//...
header('Content-Type: text/event-stream');
header('Cache-Control: no-cache'); // recommended to prevent caching of event data.
 
$recipientUid = (int)$_REQUEST["recipientUid"];
 
function send($updatedNotificationNum)
{
    printf ("id: %s\n\n", PROC_ID);
    printf ('data: {"time" : "%s", "updatedNotificationNum" : "%d"}' . "\n\n"
        ,date('d/m H:i:s') , $updatedNotificationNum);
    ob_flush();
    flush();
}
 
while (true) {
    send($model->fetchNumberByRecipientUid($recipientUid));
    sleep(IDLE_TIME);
}
//...

Client gets onMessage event handler invoked, the data displayed. Browser will repeat request every 3 second unless you close the connection (close method). You can change delay between requests by passing into the data stream on the server “retry: .

 Server-Sent Event API usage example screenshot

WebSockets


 WebSocket API explanation

How it works

Client notifies web-socket server (EventMachine) of an event, giving ids of recipients. The server immediately notifies all the active clients (subscribed to that type of event). Clients process event when given recipient Id matches the client’s one.

Implementation

Here we need an Event Machine supporting WebSockets. The easiest way, I see, is to deployWaterSpout Server . You write your own controller (notification_controller.php) based onlocke_controller.php.
Client opens WebSocket connection and subscribes a handler for events on /notification/updatespost. Now let’s add a button in the HTML which sends on /notification/presents recipient user and action ids. That will cause broadcast message on the all open connections. So every active client receives the notification. The client event handler checks if the recipient user id matches client’s logged in user id and if so increment unread notification number.

?
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
Recipient id:
    Notification: "display">
    
 

Working a bit on the controller, you can make the system responds exclusively to the client of the given recipient user id.
You’ve probably noticed the example working perfect on Chrome, but for Firefox 6.0 it switches for long-polling. It announced that Firefox 6 supports WebSockets, but you ain’t going to find WebSocket object defined. Well, let’s change WebSocket availability check in the top of realtime.js with following:

?
1
2
3
if (!window.WebSocket) {
            window.WebSocket = window.MozWebSocket ? window.MozWebSocket : undefined;
 }

Oops, it doesn’t work anyway. Firefox 6 supports hybi-07 specification version, when Chrome and WaterSpout – hybi-00 (hixie-76). So, you will hardly able the connection through reverse-proxies and gateways. Besides, the old specification was disabled in Firefox and Opera due to security issues. The only browsers now supporting the latest WebSocket specification are betas of Firefox 7/8 and Chrome 14. As for EventMachine server implementations, I found none.

 WebSocket API usage example screenshot

Conclusion


..Long-pollingServer-Sent EventsWebSockets
Browser supportSupported by the most of currently used browsersSupported by Chrome 9+, Firefox 6+, Opera 11+, Safari 5+The latest hybi-10 protocol supported by Chrome 14, Firefox 7 betas, hybi-07 supported by Firefox 6
Server-loadingTakes little of CPU resources, but creates idle processes per user expending server memoryWorks in many ways as long-polling, unless SSE doesn’t need to close connection every time when response is sentThe best possible solution. Server has the only process serving any requests. No loops, memory/CPU expense per client, but per client action
Client-loadingDepends on implementation, though it always an asynchronous process.Natively implemented in the browser, takes minimum resourcesNatively implemented in the browser, takes minimum resources
TimelinessNear real-time, though black out period between sending response and making a new request adds some delayDefault delay 3 sec., but can be changedTrue real-time
Complexity of implementationVery easyEven easierRequires an EventMachine server and a custom port being open



Now you can download the package with the example here.

4 comments:

oakleyses said...

louis vuitton handbags, oakley sunglasses, louboutin, longchamp outlet, nike shoes, louis vuitton outlet stores, chanel handbags, burberry outlet, prada outlet, jordan shoes, tiffany and co, michael kors outlet, tory burch outlet, louis vuitton outlet, longchamp handbags, nike free, true religion jeans, michael kors outlet, kate spade outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, tiffany and co, prada handbags, polo ralph lauren outlet, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet, longchamp handbags, oakley sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, kate spade handbags, burberry outlet, louis vuitton outlet, louboutin outlet, louboutin, coach factory outlet, air max, air max, coach outlet, gucci outlet, christian louboutin shoes, michael kors outlet, coach purses, ray ban sunglasses, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton, coach outlet store online, true religion jeans, oakley sunglasses cheap

oakleyses said...

ralph lauren, lululemon, air max, hollister, north face, nike air max, polo lacoste, vanessa bruno, timberland, vans pas cher, louboutin, louis vuitton, oakley pas cher, air max pas cher, nike roshe run, air max, true religion outlet, barbour, sac longchamp, air force, hollister, sac louis vuitton, nike free, polo ralph lauren, nike trainers, louis vuitton uk, nike roshe, sac hermes, longchamp, michael kors, sac burberry, sac guess, mulberry, new balance pas cher, converse pas cher, sac louis vuitton, hogan outlet, nike tn, north face, true religion outlet, ray ban pas cher, michael kors, air jordan, nike blazer, nike free pas cher, michael kors pas cher, abercrombie and fitch, ray ban sunglasses

oakleyses said...

mac cosmetics, mont blanc, marc jacobs, canada goose outlet, nike huarache, vans shoes, soccer jerseys, hollister, giuseppe zanotti, beats by dre, abercrombie and fitch, longchamp, insanity workout, celine handbags, bottega veneta, ghd, nfl jerseys, north face outlet, chi flat iron, ugg boots, birkin bag, ugg australia, canada goose, herve leger, ugg pas cher, rolex watches, valentino shoes, canada goose uk, canada goose, ferragamo shoes, canada goose, ugg boots, uggs outlet, north face jackets, soccer shoes, asics running shoes, new balance shoes, p90x, lululemon outlet, canada goose jackets, mcm handbags, instyler, babyliss pro, ugg, wedding dresses, jimmy choo outlet, reebok outlet, nike roshe run

oakleyses said...

parajumpers, karen millen, air max, converse, pandora charms, moncler, louboutin, moncler, links of london, lancel, juicy couture outlet, oakley, hollister, pandora charms, supra shoes, thomas sabo, canada goose, gucci, wedding dresses, timberland boots, swarovski crystal, air max, coach outlet store online, moncler, ray ban, canada goose, moncler, ugg, louis vuitton, swarovski, hollister, montre homme, moncler, hollister clothing store, ralph lauren, rolex watches, moncler outlet, moncler, iphone 6 cases, baseball bats, juicy couture outlet, toms shoes, vans, pandora jewelry, ugg, converse shoes