Priming the engine

Nginx switches on to WebSockets

Elliot Bentley

Latest release of asynchronous server brings support for persistent connection protocol.

Nginx, the lightweight open-source web server, has added support for the WebSocket protocol as part of its 1.3.13 release.

WebSockets are a major feature of the HTML5 specification, allowing persistent connections to be maintained between the server and client – particularly useful for online games and IRC clients. With the specification finalised, the WebSocket protocol is now supported by practically all web browsers, as well as Java servers GlassFish, Jetty and Tomcat.

Work on implementing the protocol into Nginx was sponsored by cloud platforms Apcera and CloudBees, the latter of which uses Nginx to power its specialist Java PaaS and is already offering support in “limited production form”.

Nginx was created in 2004 by Igor Sysoev and now powers around 18% of the top 10,000 websites in the world. Asynchronous and event-driven, it has risen in popularity thanks to its small footprint and speed. The next big feature to hit Nginx is support for Google’s SPDY protocol, which can reduce load times by almost 50%. A second draft of the functionality is due in milestone 1.3.14, which is scheduled to arrive in three weeks’ time.

For those interested in using WebSockets with their application, check out this month’s edition of JAX Magazine for a tutorial on using the protocol with GlassFish.

Photo by Paul Downey.

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