9 killer uses for WebSockets

WebSockets enables instant data exchange and is supported by all modern browsers. Put it to use immediately in your Web apps

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5. Financial tickers

The finance world moves fast -- microsecond fast. Our human brains can't keep up with processing data at that speed, so we write algorithms to do it for us. Even if you're not dealing with high-frequency trading, however, stale information can only hurt. When you have a dashboard tracking companies you're interested in, you want to know what they're worth now, not 10 seconds ago. Use WebSockets to stream that data and no one needs to wait.

6. Sports updates

While we're on the topic of silly things people are passionate about, let's talk sports. I'm not a sports guy, but I know what sports guys want. When the Patriots are playing, my brother-in-law surrenders himself to the pace of the game. It's a trancelike state prone to violent, visceral reactions. I don't understand it, but I respect the intensity of the connection, so the last thing I want to do is add latency to his experience. If you're including sports information in your Web app, WebSockets can keep your users up to speed.

7. Multimedia chat

While there's no substitute for holding a meeting in person, videoconferences are about as good as it gets when we can't get everybody in the same room. The videoconference route is plug-in heavy, though, and full of proprietary "goodness." I'm a fan of the open Web, so using WebSockets with getUserMedia API's and the HTML5 audio and video elements is an obvious win. WebRTC, the logical predecessor to the combination I just outlined, looks promising, but the lack of current browser support eliminates it as a candidate.

8. Location-based apps

More and more developers are leveraging the GPS capabilities of mobile devices to make their Web apps location-aware. If you're tracking user locations over time (such as running an app that tracks your progress along a route), you'll be collecting fine-grained data. If you want to update a Web dashboard in real time (say, a track coach monitoring the progress of runners) HTTP is going to be unnecessarily bulky. Leverage the TCP connection a WebSocket uses and let that data fly.

9. Online education

School keeps getting more expensive, while the Internet keeps getting faster and cheaper. Online education can be a great way to learn, especially if you can interact with teachers and other students. WebSockets is the natural choice, allowing for multimedia chat, text chat, and other perks like collaborative drawing on a digital communal chalkboard.

These are just a few examples to help get the juices flowing. What else can you see being a great use of WebSockets?

This article, "9 killer uses for WebSockets," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Keep up on the latest news in application development and read more of Andrew Oliver's Strategic Developer blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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