Skip to main content

JavaScript: Socket.IO Didn't Meet Needs

Recently, I needed to add realtime (i.e. comet, websockets, flash sockets, etc.) support to an application. Socket.IO is a library built on top of Node.JS that "aims to make realtime apps possible in every browser and mobile device, blurring the differences between the different transport mechanisms." Since Socket.IO did exactly what I needed, I was hoping it would solve my problems easily and that I wouldn't have to implement what Socket.IO did myself.

Unfortunately, things didn't work out so well. I had to do things in a cross-domain manner. Although the browser support list for Socket.IO is very good, that didn't match up with my actual experience. I built a simple application that tried to send and receive a message using Socket.IO, and then it reported on which transport was used. Unfortunately, many of the browsers that I wanted to support such as IE 6 and 7 and Opera just didn't work, even though they were supposed to. Here are some of my results.

Furthermore, if you watch the mailing list, a lot of questions just get dropped on the floor. I'm sure this is because the authors of Socket.IO are completely overwhelmed. Hopefully as Socket.IO matures and the list of expert users grows, this will improve.

By the way, you might wonder how I tested so many browsers. I paid for an account on crossbrowsertesting.com. It was worth every penny! First, I would use it to try to take a snapshot of my test page on all the different browsers. Then, I would use the web-based VNC system to log into the systems and view the page manually in order to see what was going wrong. This was very helpful to determine exactly which browsers did and didn't work.

Anyway, as I said, I hope Socket.IO gets better because it solves a real need. Perhaps it already has, since I was doing this testing several months ago. However, if you need to use Socket.IO, I heartily recommend you make use of crossbrowsertesting.com to make sure that the browsers you need to support actually work.

In my next post, I'll cover JS.IO.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Drawing Sierpinski's Triangle in Minecraft Using Python

In his keynote at PyCon, Eben Upton, the Executive Director of the Rasberry Pi Foundation, mentioned that not only has Minecraft been ported to the Rasberry Pi, but you can even control it with Python. Since four of my kids are avid Minecraft fans, I figured this might be a good time to teach them to program using Python. So I started yesterday with the goal of programming something cool for Minecraft and then showing it off at the San Francisco Python Meetup in the evening.

The first problem that I faced was that I didn't have a Rasberry Pi. You can't hack Minecraft by just installing the Minecraft client. Speaking of which, I didn't have the Minecraft client installed either ;) My kids always play it on their Nexus 7s. I found an open source Minecraft server called Bukkit that "provides the means to extend the popular Minecraft multiplayer server." Then I found a plugin called RaspberryJuice that implements a subset of the Minecraft Pi modding API for Bukkit s…

Apple: iPad and Emacs

Someone asked my boss's buddy Art Medlar if he was going to buy an iPad. He said, "I figure as soon as it runs Emacs, that will be the sign to buy." I think he was just trying to be funny, but his statement is actually fairly profound.

It's well known that submitting iPhone and iPad applications for sale on Apple's store is a huge pain--even if they're free and open source. Apple is acting as a gatekeeper for what is and isn't allowed on your device. I heard that Apple would never allow a scripting language to be installed on your iPad because it would allow end users to run code that they hadn't verified. (I don't have a reference for this, but if you do, please post it below.) Emacs is mostly written in Emacs Lisp. Per Apple's policy, I don't think it'll ever be possible to run Emacs on the iPad.

Emacs was written by Richard Stallman, and it practically defines the Free Software movement (in a manner of speaking at least). Stal…

ERNOS: Erlang Networked Operating System

I've been reading Dreaming in Code lately, and I really like it. If you're not a dreamer, you may safely skip the rest of this post ;)

In Chapter 10, "Engineers and Artists", Alan Kay, John Backus, and Jaron Lanier really got me thinking. I've also been thinking a lot about Minix 3, Erlang, and the original Lisp machine. The ideas are beginning to synthesize into something cohesive--more than just the sum of their parts.

Now, I'm sure that many of these ideas have already been envisioned within Tunes.org, LLVM, Microsoft's Singularity project, or in some other place that I haven't managed to discover or fully read, but I'm going to blog them anyway.

Rather than wax philosophical, let me just dump out some ideas:Start with Minix 3. It's a new microkernel, and it's meant for real use, unlike the original Minix. "This new OS is extremely small, with the part that runs in kernel mode under 4000 lines of executable code." I bet it&…