Thursday, November 7, 2013

WebSocket Architecture in Spring 4.0


Two years ago, the WebSocket protocol RFC 6455 defined an important new capability for web applications: full-duplex, two-way communication between client and server. Part of the “HTML5” umbrella term, WebSocket has gathered a lot of attention and become an official buzzword—one that generates plenty of expectations, in many cases, ahead of actual experience. In this post, we will focus on separating hype from reality and introduce the Spring Framework 4.0 approach to building WebSocket-style applications using STOMP as an application-level protocol, SockJS for fallback options, and a message broker for broadcasting messages to connected users.

Considering the long list of techniques used to make the web more interactive, including Java applets, XMLHttpRequest, Adobe Flash, ActiveXObject, various Comet techniques, and server-sent events, WebSocket is an exciting, new capability. However, the truth is that WebSocket is more of a foundation. It does something very important by setting a standard for two-way communication over the web, but it’s really only the first stop. Aside from short-to-midterm challenges with network proxy configuration and browser support, WebSocket opens the door to additional architecture questions for development teams to answer.

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