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NATS vs Socket.IO: What are the differences?

NATS: Lightweight publish-subscribe & distributed queueing messaging system. 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; 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.

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

"Fastest pub-sub system out there" is the top reason why over 13 developers like NATS, while over 186 developers mention "Real-time" as the leading cause for choosing Socket.IO.

Socket.IO is an open source tool with 46.7K GitHub stars and 8.53K GitHub forks. Here's a link to Socket.IO's open source repository on GitHub.

PedidosYa, Trello, and triGo GmbH are some of the popular companies that use Socket.IO, whereas NATS is used by Apcera, Workiva, and Bridgevine. Socket.IO has a broader approval, being mentioned in 555 company stacks & 385 developers stacks; compared to NATS, which is listed in 27 company stacks and 11 developer stacks.

Advice on NATS and Socket.IO
Moghammad Sabre Khan
Needs advice

We (my team) are building an App where we want to have Bi-directional texting, Single Directional Picture, and audio transfer.

We are building all this using Flutter.

There will essentially be 3 apps, 2 Mobile-based (Android and iOS) and 1 Microsoft Based. We've built up most of the code already, and made a few major mistakes but fixed it(namely had no proper state management).

How things will work:

Person A has a Mobile app 1, Person A presses a button that sends a "communication request" into a Pool of requests. Person B on Desktop App chooses a "communication request" from the pool, and engages in Bi-directional texting with Person A. Person B also opens communication with Person C who is on Mobile app 2, and they engage in Bi-directional texting. Person C will be notified of communication requests through Push Notifications.

So far we've been using Socket.IO, however, I'm starting to think that's not the best.

A problem we've encountered so far is that Person A(Mobile App 1 User), is the person who sends a "communication request" into the "Communication Pool". The Mobile App 1 User, can "cancel" the communication at any point in time. When they do that, I would like for a notification to be sent to Person B, the Desktop User, For them to pick up another communication request.

I am not sure how this should be done however, should it be done in the Back-end, then how does the Front-end get notified of the change?

Any advice on which to choose?

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Replies (1)
Jomai Omar
web developer at tunisofts | 2 upvotes 路 5.5K views

It's so simple when you use Firebase to manage the requests just make new field to the request for example callstate with values like "requesting" "incall" "cancelled" and both A and B can update this field.

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Needs advice

We are starting to work on a web-based platform aiming to connect artists (clients) and professional freelancers (service providers). In-app, timeline-based, real-time communication between users (& storing it), file transfers, and push notifications are essential core features. We are considering using Node.js, ExpressJS, React, MongoDB stack with Socket.IO & Apollo, or maybe using Real-Time Database and functionalities of Firebase.

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Replies (3)
Timothy Malstead
Junior Full Stack Developer at Freelance | 7 upvotes 路 363.6K views

I would recommend looking hard into Firebase for this project, especially if you do not have dedicated full-stack or backend members on your team.

The real time database, as you mentioned, is a great option, but I would also look into Firestore. Similar to RTDB, it adds more functions and some cool methods as well. Also, another great thing about Firebase is you have easy access to storage and dead simple auth as well.

Node.js Express MongoDB Socket.IO and Apollo are great technologies as well, and may be the better option if you do not wish to cede as much control to third parties in your application.

Overall, I say if you wish to focus more time developing your React application instead of other parts of your stack, Firebase is a great way to do that.

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Hello Noam 馃憢,

I suggest taking a look at Ably, it has all the realtime features you need and the platform is designed to guarantee critical functionality at scale.

Here is an in depth comparison between Ably and Firebase

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Hey Noam,

I would recommend you to take a look into 8base. It has features you've requested, also relation database and GraphQL API which will help you to develop rapidly.

Thanks, Ilya

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