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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.

Advice on Pusher and Socket.IO
Needs advice

I am building an IoT application that will utilize connected air quality sensors to provide real-time indoor air quality in offices. I want to be able to share this data with a few different databases, etc.

Wondering if anyone has any advice on which real-time streaming API would be best for this sort of application, or even how I should think about it?

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Replies (2)
Ben Gamble

For IoT, we support MQTT along with websockets and SSE. The pattern you're suggesting that involves harvesting data from devices and soaking into a database is easy to achieve with one of the Ably integrations (Serverless functions/webhook) . Here are some tutorials to do things like this:

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Philip Rossen

We use Pusher at It works fine. When you reach more users, Pusher gets expensive. We use Pusher for live chat between users. Their software is easy to use. We have had issues with auth on Pusher.

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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 319.9K 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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