What is a WebSocket?

WebSockets is a protocol for bi-directional, real-time communication between a client and a server over the web. It was designed to overcome the limitations of traditional HTTP-based communication and enable real-time communication for web applications. Unlike traditional HTTP, which only allows for one-way communication from the client to the server, WebSockets provides a full-duplex connection, allowing both the client and server to send data to each other at any time.

WebSockets is commonly used in applications such as online games, chat applications, and real-time data streaming. It operates over a single, long-lived connection, eliminating the overhead associated with creating a new connection for each request, as is the case with traditional HTTP. WebSockets also provides lower latency and higher throughput compared to traditional HTTP, making it ideal for real-time applications. The WebSockets protocol is an IETF standard, and is supported by most modern web browsers, making it widely available for use in web applications.

Simplified Example

Like WebSockets, SSE provides a real-time, bi-directional communication channel between a client and a server. However, SSE operates over a single, unidirectional connection, where the server sends data to the client, while the client cannot send data back to the server. SSE is well-suited for use cases where low latency and real-time updates are important, but where two-way communication is not necessary. SSE is also supported by most modern web browsers, making it widely available for use in web applications.

Who Invented the WebSocket?

The term "WebSocket" was introduced by Ian Hickson, a co-editor of the WHATWG HTML specification, in 2008. At its inception, WebSocket was conceptualized as a solution to enhance the real-time communication capabilities of web applications. This was particularly crucial as existing methods, such as HTTP polling and long-polling, presented limitations in achieving efficient and seamless real-time interactions on the web.


Online Gaming: WebSockets is commonly used in online multiplayer games to provide real-time communication between players. It allows for fast, low-latency communication, enabling real-time interactions such as moving characters and objects, shooting, and exchanging messages.

Chat Applications: WebSockets is also used in chat applications to provide real-time communication between users. It allows for instant messaging and enables features such as typing indicators and notifications, providing a more engaging chat experience.

Real-Time Data Streaming: WebSockets is used in applications that require real-time data streaming, such as stock market applications and financial trading platforms. It allows for the rapid transfer of large amounts of data, enabling real-time updates and allowing users to make informed decisions based on the latest information.

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