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What is WebSocket and How does it Work?

The WebSocket protocol is a set of rules that defines how the client and server should communicate. It is based on a well-defined specification that ensures interoperability between different WebSocket implementations. In today’s fast-paced world, we all appreciate instant updates and the ability to chat in real time. ” WebSockets are like magic threads that let your computer talk directly to a server, ensuring quick and seamless communication. WebSockets should not be used in a mixed content environment; that is, you shouldn’t open a non-secure WebSocket connection from a page loaded using HTTPS or vice versa. Most browsers now only allow secure WebSocket connections, and no longer support using them in insecure contexts.

The event sent by the WebSocket object when a message is received from the server. The event sent by the WebSocket object when the connection closes. We make it easy to build realtime experiences like live chat and multiplayer collaboration for millions of users.

Common use cases of WebSocket

A base64-encoded one-time random value (nonce) sent by the client. Automatically handled for you by most WebSocket libraries or by using the WebSocket class provided in browsers. In 2008, the pain and limitations of using AJAX and Comet when implementing anything resembling realtime were being felt particularly keenly by developers Michael Carter and Ian Hickson. Through collaboration on IRC and W3C mailing lists, they came up with a plan to introduce a new standard for modern, truly realtime communication on the web.

how does websocket work

It is used only as part of the opening handshake and will only be included once within it. Several WebSocket-specific headers are used to set different parameters for the connection. The HTTP Upgrade header is a hop-by-hop header, which means that it has to be listed in the HTTP Connection header.

The problem: Low latency client-server and server-client connections

In coordination with IETF, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) maintains the WebSocket Protocol Registries, which define many of the codes and parameter identifiers used by the protocol. Rather,
I will cover the most important bits so that we can gain an understanding
of the WebSocket protocol. The protocol consists of an opening handshake followed by basic message
framing, layered over TCP. A web application (e.g. web browser) may use the WebSocket interface to connect to a WebSocket server. After the protocol was shipped and enabled by default in multiple browsers, the RFC 6455 was finalized under Ian Fette in December 2011. There are well-known URIs that support the WebSocket protocol and the list can be viewed at IANA Well-Known URIs.

how does websocket work

This mechanism is not intended to provide Authentication or enhance privacy. Well, they are a remarkable technology that powers real-time communication on the internet. They create a direct, fast, and continuous connection between your device (like a computer or phone) and a server. This connection allows for instant and efficient two-way communication, making applications more responsive and interactive. WebSockets are like a secret ingredient, making the web a more dynamic and engaging place where data flows quickly and seamlessly, making our online experiences smoother and more exciting.

What is the history of WebSocket?

There are also commercial solutions such as PusherApp which can be easily integrated into any web environment by providing a HTTP API to send WebSocket messages to clients. Due to the extra HTTP request there will always be extra overhead compared to pure WebSocket. A WebSocket is a persistent connection between a client and server.

how does websocket work

This sets up a tunnel, which provides low-level end-to-end TCP communication through the HTTP proxy, between the WebSocket Secure client and the WebSocket server. In the case of transparent proxy servers, the browser is unaware of the proxy server, so no HTTP CONNECT is sent. Using encryption is not free of resource cost, but often provides the highest success rate, since it would be travelling through a secure tunnel. The server reads the Sec-WebSocket-Key, appends UUID 258EAFA5-E914-47DA-95CA- to it, re-encodes it using base64, and returns it in the response as the parameter for Sec-Websocket-Accept.

Chat example

This body consists of a status code (integer) and a UTF-8 encoded string (the reason). Within that
request response chain, the client asks to open a WebSocket connection,
and the server responds (if its able to). If this initial handshake is
successful, the client and server have agreed to use the existing TCP/IP
connection that was established for the HTTP request as a WebSocket

how does websocket work

In this blog, we learn What is WebSocket, a modern technology created for two-way communication between a web server and a client’s browser. We will also explore how they work, unveiling the exciting possibilities they offer. Once the connection is established (that is, readyState is OPEN), exampleSocket.protocol will tell you which protocol the server selected. WebSocket client applications use the WebSocket API to communicate with WebSocket servers using the WebSocket protocol. In this example, consumer represents your business logic for processing
messages received on the WebSocket connection.

It helps the client and server agree on a set of protocol-level extensions to use for the duration of the connection. This attack is called cache
poisoning, and results from the fact that we cannot control how
misbehaving proxies behave in the wild. This is especially problematic
when introducing a new protocol like WebSocket that has to interact with
the existing infrastructure of the internet. Once the connection is established, communication switches to a binary frame-based protocol which does not conform to the HTTP protocol.

  • The WebSocket connection is kept alive for as long as needed (in theory, it can last forever), allowing the server and the client to send data at will, with minimal overhead.
  • This efficiency allows for instantaneous updates and interactions, making them the ideal choice for applications that require real-time responses, such as online games and chat applications.
  • If the payload
    data is small (under 126 bytes), the length is encoded in the Payload len field.
  • You don’t have to worry about performing the opening or the closing handshake,
    answering pings, or any other behavior required by the specification.

This is not intended to add a layer of security to the protocol. Rather, it allows the client to verify that the server does indeed understand WebSockets. Also, if an intermediary caches the response and returns it as part of a new request, the client will be able to recognize that the response is no longer valid. This is the case only because a new random key is used for each connection.

WebSockets require that all
payload be obfuscated using a random key (the mask) chosen by the client. The masking key is combined with the payload data using an XOR operation
before sending data to the how does websocket work payload. This masking prevents caches from
misinterpreting WebSocket frames as cacheable data. WebSockets power real-time chat applications, allowing users to send and receive messages instantly.

how does websocket work