Getting started with HTML5 Server Sent Events (SSE) - Atmosphere/atmosphere Wiki

The Atmosphere Framework easily allow the creation of HTML5 Server-Sent Events (SSE). Better, any existing Servlet based application can add SSE support without any changes to their existing application.

HTML5 Server-Sent Events (SSE) are getting more and more adopted and support for it starts to appear. As an example, the GlassFish Application Server recently added support for it, the upcoming release of the Jersey Framework is also adding some sort of support, and framework like jQuery-Socket has sample supporting SSE as well. Both GlassFish and Jersey suffer major issues: First, you need to use non portable API to start using SSE (will only work in GlassFish or Jersey) and second, they expose special API to support SSE, which is a major mistake in my opinion. Just take a look at how simple it can be to implement SSE using the jQuery-Socket sample. Why would you use heavyweight API like GlassFish or Jersey to achieve something that simple? Not only that, but currently Internet Explorer isn't supporting SSE, so if you use either use GlassFish or Jersey, your application will NOT WORK with Internet Explorer. Oups!!!

This is where Atmosphere comes to the rescue. With Atmosphere, you don't have to add anything special to have SSE supported by your application. Even better, you can ask Atmosphere to fallback to another technique if SSE is not supported. As an example, you can ask for WebSocket or Long-Polling to be used when SSE is not available. Atmosphere will transparently fall back. On the server side, you don't need to care about anything as Atmosphere will do it for you. As an example, let's write a simple Chat application using Atmosphere and Jersey (but not the Jersey SSE implementation!).

First, let's define a super simple Jersey Resource:

  1 @Path("/")
  2 public class ResourceChat {
  4     @Suspend(contentType = "application/json")
  5     @GET
  6     public String suspend() {
  7        return "";
  8     }
 10     @Broadcast(writeEntity = false)
 11     @POST
 12     @Produces("application/json")
 13     public Response broadcast(Message message) {
 14          return new Response(, message.message);
 15     }
 16 }

The important code here is line 4, where the Atmosphere Suspend annotation is used to suspend to tell Atmosphere to not commit the response, e.g leave the connection open. Under the hood it means the Atmosphere native SSE implementation will be enabled and SSE message transparently handled. With line 10, we are telling Atmosphere to broadcast the message back the client to all suspended connections, or stated differently, to all our connected Browser, supporting SSE or not. This is important to note here that if the remote browser isn't supporting SSE, a fallback transport will be used. For that sample let's use long-polling, but if you are using Internet Explorer 10 we could have chosen WebSockets as a fallback mechanism. You can download the server code (complete sample) here.

Now on the client side, all we need to do is to tell Atmosphere to use SSE as its main transport (complete code here):

  1 var request = { url: document.location.toString() + 'chat',
  2     contentType : "application/json",
  3     logLevel : 'debug',
  4     transport : 'sse' ,
  5     fallbackTransport: 'long-polling'};
  8 request.onOpen = function(response) {
  9     content.html($('<p>', { text: 'Atmosphere connected using '
          + response.transport }));
 10     input.removeAttr('disabled').focus();
 11     status.text('Choose name:');
 12 };
 14 request.onMessage = function (response) {
 15     var message = response.responseBody;
 16     try {
 17         var json = JSON.parse(message); 
 18     } catch (e) {
 19         console.log('This does not look like a valid JSON: ',
 20         return;
 21     }
 23     if (!logged) {
 24         logged = true;
 25         status.text(myName + ': ').css('color', 'blue');
 26         input.removeAttr('disabled').focus();
 27     } else {
 28         input.removeAttr('disabled');
 30         var me = == author;
 31         var date =  json.time;
 32         addMessage(, json.text, me 
               ? 'blue' : 'black', new Date(date));
 33     }
 34 };
 36 request.onError = function(response) {
 37     content.html($('<p>', { text: 
           'Sorry, but there s some problem with your '
 38                 + 'socket or the server is down' }));
 39 };
 40  var subSocket = socket.subscribe(request);

Important code here is line 1 where we create a request and configuring SSE as the main transport and Long-Polling as a fallback transport. Note that we could replace SSE with WebSocket and our application WILL STILL WORK, WITHOUT ANY CHANGES NEEDED ON THE SERVER SIDE!!! Line 8, 14 and 36 are used to define some function that will be invoked when the connection gets established, when messages are received and when network errors occurs. And your application will works everywhere Servlet 2.5 is supported. So the question is: Why using private/non portable API and worse, special API just to support only Server Side Events? Don't go that route and use Atmosphere, and get all for free!

For any questions or to download Atmosphere Client and Server Framework, go to our main site, use our Google Group forum, follow the team or myself and tweet your questions there! .