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SocketCluster vs Socket.IO: What are the differences?

SocketCluster: An open, scalable realtime engine for Node.js. SocketCluster is a fast, highly scalable HTTP + realtime server engine which lets you build multi-process realtime servers that make use of all CPU cores on a machine/instance. It removes the limitations of having to run your Node.js server as a single thread and makes your backend resilient by automatically recovering from worker crashes and aggregating errors into a central log; Socket.IO: 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.

SocketCluster and Socket.IO can be primarily classified as "Realtime Backend / API" tools.

Some of the features offered by SocketCluster are:

  • Resilient on both the client and backend - Process crashes, lost connections and other failures are handled seamlessly.
  • Scales linearly as you add more CPU cores and workers (assuming a decent OS) - Tested with up to 16 cores.
  • Also designed to scale horizontally across multiple machines. See sc-redis sample.

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.

"Cluster mode is awesome" is the primary reason why developers consider SocketCluster over the competitors, whereas "Real-time" was stated as the key factor in picking Socket.IO.

SocketCluster and Socket.IO are both open source tools. Socket.IO with 46.9K GitHub stars and 8.54K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than SocketCluster with 5.35K GitHub stars and 283 GitHub forks.

Trello, MakerSquare, and Kobra.io are some of the popular companies that use Socket.IO, whereas SocketCluster is used by notthatbad technologies UG, Livevents, and StaffConnect. Socket.IO has a broader approval, being mentioned in 560 company stacks & 395 developers stacks; compared to SocketCluster, which is listed in 6 company stacks and 3 developer stacks.

What is Socket.IO?

Socket.IO enables real-time bidirectional event-based communication. It works on every platform, browser or device, focusing equally on reliability and speed.

What is SocketCluster?

SocketCluster is a fast, highly scalable HTTP + realtime server engine which lets you build multi-process realtime servers that make use of all CPU cores on a machine/instance. It removes the limitations of having to run your Node.js server as a single thread and makes your backend resilient by automatically recovering from worker crashes and aggregating errors into a central log.

Want advice about which of these to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

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    What are some alternatives to Socket.IO and SocketCluster?
    Firebase
    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.
    Pusher
    Pusher is the category leader in delightful APIs for app developers building communication and collaboration features.
    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.
    SignalR
    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.
    PubNub
    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.
    See all alternatives
    What tools integrate with Socket.IO?
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      How developers use Socket.IO and SocketCluster
      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 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 Socket.io 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

      Socket.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.

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