The number of services offering real-time APIs is slowly but surely expanding and it looks like we're going to have to add quite a few more. Since the start of the year a new type of service has started to appear--client push services, which help developers include real-time updates in their web apps.
Real-time client push APIs have actually been around for quite a while (around 10 years) as they are shipped with Comet servers but only recently have these been moved into the cloud and offered as a service. The service flavour of these APIs give the developer the ability to instantly push information from their web server, through their chosen push service and into a web browser viewing their website.
Real-time client push is intended to replace the previous pull, or polling, mechanism that has been used for many years to mimic live data on a website. Using push via a dedicated Comet server is generally more resource efficient than polling a web server, and by using a service the resource load and complexity involved in setting up and running a Comet service is completely taken away from the developer's considerations. This means that the web server is under much less strain, the developer can concentrate on building a killer real-time application and the website user gets the benefit of a truly real-time experience.
The real-time client push services that we know of at the moment are:
And some examples of their use include:
- A real-time news reader
- A Facebook "meh" button
- Interactive games
- Real-time sports statistics (requires HTML5 support)
You can also check out the demos on each of the services websites.
Real-time is already a big topic and users are starting to demand data and results as fast as possible. There is also the expectation that they should be informed as soon as new data is available or the existing data changes. Google are already pressing ahead with new real-time advancements such as Google Real-Time search (which actually uses polling) and Google Instant but the good news is that with the availability of real-time client push services any developer can now add real-time to their website.
Let us know if you are interested in finding out more about these real-time client push APIs and services and we'll cover each one in more detail.
Photo via Blake Patterson