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Pusher vs Socket.IO: What are the differences?

Developers describe Pusher as "Hosted APIs to build realtime apps with less code". Pusher is the category leader in delightful APIs for app developers building communication and collaboration features. On the other hand, Socket.IO is detailed as "Realtime application framework (Node.JS server)". Socket.IO enables real-time bidirectional event-based communication. It works on every platform, browser or device, focusing equally on reliability and speed.

Pusher and Socket.IO belong to "Realtime Backend / API" category of the tech stack.

Some of the features offered by Pusher are:

  • Easily build scalable in-app notifications, chat, realtime graphs, geotracking and more in your web & mobile apps with our hosted pub/sub messaging API.
  • Send programmable push notifications to iOS and Android devices with delivery and open rate tracking built in.
  • Easily add 1-1 and group Chat to your web & mobile apps. Presence, message storage, rich media, notifications, typing indicators and more.

On the other hand, Socket.IO provides the following key features:

  • Real-time analytics - Push data to clients that gets represented as real-time counters, charts or logs.
  • Binary streaming - Starting in 1.0, it's possible to send any blob back and forth: image, audio, video.
  • Instant messaging and chat - Socket.IO's "Hello world" is a chat app in just a few lines of code.

"An easy way to give customers realtime features" is the top reason why over 44 developers like Pusher, while over 186 developers mention "Real-time" as the leading cause for choosing Socket.IO.

Socket.IO is an open source tool with 46.9K GitHub stars and 8.54K GitHub forks. Here's a link to Socket.IO's open source repository on GitHub.

Rainist, PedidosYa, and Trello are some of the popular companies that use Socket.IO, whereas Pusher is used by Product Hunt, Groupon, and Buffer. Socket.IO has a broader approval, being mentioned in 560 company stacks & 395 developers stacks; compared to Pusher, which is listed in 125 company stacks and 42 developer stacks.

- No public GitHub repository available -

What is Pusher?

Pusher is the category leader in delightful APIs for app developers building communication and collaboration features.

What is Socket.IO?

It enables real-time bidirectional event-based communication. It works on every platform, browser or device, focusing equally on reliability and speed.
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    What are some alternatives to Pusher and Socket.IO?
    PubNub makes it easy for you to add real-time capabilities to your apps, without worrying about the infrastructure. Build apps that allow your users to engage in real-time across mobile, browser, desktop and server.
    SignalR allows bi-directional communication between server and client. Servers can now push content to connected clients instantly as it becomes available. SignalR supports Web Sockets, and falls back to other compatible techniques for older browsers. SignalR includes APIs for connection management (for instance, connect and disconnect events), grouping connections, and authorization.
    Firebase is a cloud service designed to power real-time, collaborative applications. Simply add the Firebase library to your application to gain access to a shared data structure; any changes you make to that data are automatically synchronized with the Firebase cloud and with other clients within milliseconds.
    Google Cloud Pub/Sub
    Cloud Pub/Sub is a fully-managed real-time messaging service that allows you to send and receive messages between independent applications. You can leverage Cloud Pub/Sub’s flexibility to decouple systems and components hosted on Google Cloud Platform or elsewhere on the Internet.
    Unlike traditional enterprise messaging systems, NATS has an always-on dial tone that does whatever it takes to remain available. This forms a great base for building modern, reliable, and scalable cloud and distributed systems.
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    Decisions about Pusher and Socket.IO
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    How developers use Pusher and Socket.IO
    Avatar of Tony Manso
    Tony Manso uses Socket.IOSocket.IO

    I use Socket.IO because using HTTP requests for a real-time multiplayer game just blows! Even with websockets, I had to scrunch the data being transmitted down to a bare minimum, and do some cheap compression tricks so that I can send data in JSON format. Otherwise, I would have to resort to sending binary data. I may end up doing that anyway when the time comes that I need to scale.

    How do I use it? Each client opens a socket connection at startup. The server keeps track of these connections, and sends each client the visible portion of the Playfield repeatedly. The clients render this information, while sending requests and commands to the server (join,turn,fire,thrust,bomb,viewport change,etc.) in response to the player's actions. The server uses that to make adjustments to the player's ship on the Playfield.

    Avatar of Nathan Heffley
    Nathan Heffley uses PusherPusher

    In the original prototype all the communication was handled by a backend server. Each client connected directly to the server using the library. This quickly proved to be messy and unreliable, especially on the cheap server being used to host it.

    Websockets proved to be a little more reliable, but still just as messy and not all browsers support them. That's when the project was switched over to use Pusher. Using Pusher has allowed all but the initial connection code to be off-loaded onto the client. Now instead of communicating through a self-hosted server, clients can communicate pretty much peer-to-peer over Pusher.

    Avatar of Trello
    Trello uses Socket.IOSocket.IO

    Where we have browser support (recent Chrome, Firefox, and Safari), we make a WebSocket connection so that the server can push changes made by other people down to browsers listening on the appropriate channels. We use a modified version* of the client and server libraries that allows us to keep many thousands of open WebSockets on each of our servers at very little cost in terms of CPU or memory usage. So when anything happens to a board you’re watching, that action is published to our server processes and propagated to your watching browser with very minimal latency, usually well under a second.

    Avatar of Kent Steiner
    Kent Steiner uses Socket.IOSocket.IO

    Socket.IO has a decent community footprint, including integrations with popular JS frameworks, and has fallbacks to maintain an app's services if websockets are not available for some reason. Websockets are an important factor in most of the web-facing apps I build, to provide asynchronous two-way communication between the app and whatever server or data source it is connected to.

    Avatar of Andrew Gatenby
    Andrew Gatenby uses Socket.IOSocket.IO

    Another one that we're not using, yet. But have realtime data updates within our applications and the central API will be a great bit of functionality that gives our clients more control and keep them informed of changes and updates in their stores, in real time.

    Avatar of AngeloR
    AngeloR uses Socket.IOSocket.IO is used as our current multiplayer engine. The existing engine is very simplistic and only utilizes the websocket+http fallback transports and serves as a generic world/zone/screen grouping mechanism for displaying users to each other.

    Avatar of Jewel Mahanta
    Jewel Mahanta uses PusherPusher

    Pusher is used to send update notification whenever Lapzbot joins a server.

    Avatar of Vamsi Krishna
    Vamsi Krishna uses PusherPusher

    Push real-time updates

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