We’ve all experienced the power of the real-time web through features like online chats, notifications that we’re tagged in a photo, and live games we can play with friends. This immediacy and speed is something that can really up the level of engagement and immersion for users. Unfortunately, building these kinds of features into our apps is tricky; there are issues of scale and consistency, especially if you are deploying into a cloud environment with many servers.

The Simple Notification Service takes away all of that pain and lets you focus on building killer real-time features to push your app to the next level. Want to add real-time chat support to your e-commerce website? You can do that! Want to alert users of new posts that might interest them? You can do that too.

So, what is the Simple Notification Service?

The Simple Notification Service is “real-time Infrastructure as a Service.” In other words, it provides developers with the means to build complex real-time features, at scale, with the use of a few simple APIs.

Built with Node.JS and RethinkDB, the service offers persistence and scalability as well as a simple query system to target notifications at specific users.

Features include:

  • Simple JavaScript and REST APIs
  • See user presence with connection/disconnection detection
  • Send targeted notifications using a simple query system
  • Retrieve historical notifications
  • Fully scalable out of the box
  • Deployable to IBM Bluemix

What can I do with the Simple Notification Service?

Anything you want!

Think of the Simple Notification Service as a way to connect your users so that you can pass data directly from one user to another (or indeed, to many others). This means that you can create engaging, rich experiences like:

  • collaborative software
  • multiplayer games
  • real-time dashboards
  • real-time marketplaces
  • and anything else you can think of!

To get you started, I included simple demos showing what you can do with just a few lines of JavaScript and the Simple Notification Service. Once you are up and running, you’ll see them on the Simple Notification Service app’s home page. Be sure to check them out:

  • Soccer demo provides real-time soccer match updates and allows users to target specific matches only, or see all updates.
  • Chat demo lets users connect and message each other live and see who is online. It includes a snippet of code you can paste into your own website or app to create an instant chat room.

chat demo

Watch for a follow-up article in the next few weeks that will take you through all the steps you need to build a real-time, multiplayer game with the Simple Notification Service.

See for yourself

Source code and documentation are available on Github. The easiest way to start? Deploy to Bluemix by clicking this button:

Deploy to Bluemix

Note: Deployment provisions a RethinkDB instance within Bluemix which may incur costs.

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