SignalR: Real-time Application Development

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And this is just the most basic things you can do with SignalR. NET Core since version 2. NET classic. The more recent. NET Core version is a complete rewrite of it, rather just a mere port of the original code. The key purpose of SignalR is to enable two-way asynchronous real-time communication between the client and the server. So, instead of a classic request-response model where clients have to send a request to the server to get some data returned from it in a response, SignalR just enables a persistent connection, which enables the data to travel both way at any point in time.

Under some circumstances, WebSocket cannot be used. It will just use a different communication mechanism instead. Modern ASP. NET Core version. As well as using these transport mechanisms in a fallback hierarchy, SignalR client can explicitly choose which one to use.

What are real time web applications?

So, if you, for whatever reason, need to use long polling even when WebSocket is enabled, you can do so. NET Core version is the one we will focus on in this article; although most of the benefits apply equally well to the ASP. NET classic version. If you want to create your own implementation of a WebSocket server, good luck.

Of course, it is doable, but there are way too many things to take care of.

SignalR - Real-time Application Development - Second Edition

For example, you will probably have to split your messages into streams of bytes of the equal size and send them in sequence. So, your code will probably look something like this:. So, already there are some decision to make.

What is the size of each byte array? And how do you clean up unused elements from the last byte array to reconstruct the message into its original form? This is why both your client and your server will have to have something like this:. And what do you do if one of the message chunk fails to get transmitted? In this case, you will have to write quite a lot of extra code to handle other transport mechanisms.

With SignalR, none of these will matter.

Set up the Project

The code is so simple that it looks almost like you can directly call methods on the server from a client and vice versa. Yes, SignalR works with any types of client and not necessarily web pages. We will cover more of this later. Of course, remote method calling is not what actually happens under the hood. But all complex implementation details have been abstracted away, so this is not something you, as a developer, will have to worry about. Likewise, the code will be exactly the same regardless of which transport mechanisms you use. But the code will still look the same regardless.

AJAX was completely fine when all you needed was to retrieve data from the server when some user-initiated action happened on the web page. But what if you needed to retrieve new data as soon as it becomes available? With AJAX, you would have to implement some sort of logic that queries the server at regular intervals. SignalR detects the appropriate transport based on what is supported on the server and client.

Paul Krill is an editor at large at InfoWorld, whose coverage focuses on application development. Caesararum CC BY 2. Dashboards and monitoring apps, such as instant sales updates and GPS apps.

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Collaborative apps, including whiteboard apps and team meeting software. Apps needing notifications, including social networks, email, chat, and travel alerts. Get expert insights from our member-only Insider articles. Comment 0.


HTTP protocol is the basis for all communication over the web, and it has catered to our needs since the early days. HTTP works in a request and response model, where a request needs to be sent to the server to get any update from there. This creates challenges in handling a few scenarios where we need real time data: when a user opens a web page then it needs to be updated, and when there is a change on the server but as per the HTTP architecture, a new request must be sent to get an update from the server.

This creates a bad experience for the user and multiple requests may throttle the network bandwidth as well. There are many real-time scenarios where we need to show live data to the user such as with Stock Market info, Live Game results, chat applications, and others. To handle these scenarios we use different workarounds, which AJAX helped with a lot. Other challenges we face include the different behavior of browsers in terms of features and support. We can write real time web applications using AJAX like discussed above, or we can use Forever Frame or some other custom workarounds, but these are pretty complex and different logic is needed for different scenarios.

SignalR hides all the complexities involved and works seamlessly on all the browsers including different versions. It is very powerful and allows bidirectional communication between client and server. The server is not required to wait for the request of the client to send the response, instead it can logically push the response when new data is available.

SignalR uses one of multiple technolgies to set up communications between client and server. Web Socket, which was introduced with HTML5, provides bidirectional support but it is not supported by all the browsers and older versions.

SignalR Developing Realtime Web Applications

To do this, SignalR allows you to use multiple transport technologies and select one which is most suitable for the scenario. Web Socket — This is a new communication technology which provides a true two-way communication over a single TCP connection on the web. In other words, if both the parties Client and Server support web socket, then this creates a persistent connection between them which can be used by either client or server to send the data anytime.

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As such, this is more efficient, takes less memory, and shows the lowest latency. Server Sent Events also known as Event Source — This is another technique introduced with HTML5 which allows the server to push the updates to the client whenever new data is available.

Why you absolutely need SignalR for development – Scientific Programmer

This technology is used when Web Socket is not supported. It is supported by most browsers except IE. Forever Frame — This is part of the COMET model and uses a hidden iframe on the browser to receive the data in an incremental manner from the server. The server starts sending the data in a series of chunks without even knowing the complete length of the content. Also, it is the most expensive amongst all, too!