Skip to main content

Top 3 Options for Website Streaming in 2024

· 4 min read
Avi Stramer

In the realm of real-time web applications, efficient, bidirectional communication between the client and server is crucial. This is especially true for applications requiring live content updates, such as chat applications, live sports updates, stock trading platforms, and more. Three popular technologies that facilitate this kind of communication are WebSockets, Socket.IO, and SockJS. Each comes with its unique features and use cases so in this blog post, we'll explore the differences to help you make an informed decision for your website streaming needs.


The WebSocket protocol provides a full-duplex communication channel over a single TCP connection. It is a key technology in the real-time web ecosystem, enabling the server to send messages to the client without the client having to request it. WebSockets are designed to be implemented in web browsers and web servers but can be used by any client or server application.

Features of WebSocket

  • Full-duplex Communication: Allows simultaneous communication in both directions.
  • Low Latency: Designed to reduce communication overhead, resulting in lower latency.
  • Standardized Protocol: Supported natively by all modern web browsers without the need for any libraries or plugins.
  • No Fallback: WebSockets won't necessarily work in all environments. A common reason for this is when corporate proxies block them. There is no fallback to an alternate protocol without significant additional coding required.

Use Cases

  • Real-time applications requiring minimal delay (chat applications, gaming) that do not require fallback protocols.
  • Applications needing a persistent connection to the server.


Socket.IO is a popular open-source library that enables real-time, bidirectional, and event-based communication between web clients and servers. It builds on top of the WebSocket protocol but also provides fallback options (like AJAX long polling) for browsers or environments that do not support WebSocket, ensuring wider compatibility.

Features of Socket.IO

  • Automatic Fallback: Uses WebSocket where available but falls back to HTTP long polling if necessary.
  • Real-time Analytics: Enables the easy implementation of real-time analytics.
  • Room Support: Allows broadcasting to a subset of clients, organizing them into rooms for targeted messaging.

Use Cases

  • Applications that need to work on a variety of devices and network conditions.
  • Projects that require quick development and ease of use without deep understanding of underlying protocols.


SockJS is a JavaScript library (client-side) and Node.js library (server-side) that provides an alternative to the WebSocket API. It focuses on providing the best cross-browser compatibility to ensure that real-time features work reliably in environments where WebSocket is not supported or is unreliable.

Features of SockJS

  • Cross-browser Compatibility: Emulates WebSocket-like behavior on browsers that do not support WebSocket.
  • Transparent Fallback: Automatically falls back to the best available transport mechanism (e.g., frame streaming, XMLHttpRequest) without needing manual intervention.
  • Uniform API: Offers a consistent API across different browsers and fallback modes.

Use Cases

  • Applications that need to maintain consistent behavior across a wide range of browsers, including older ones.
  • Environments where WebSocket support is uncertain or where proxies and firewalls interfere with WebSocket connections.

Comparison and Conclusion

While WebSocket offers a standardized way to achieve full-duplex communication between the client and server with the lowest latency, it assumes that the client and server environments fully support the WebSocket protocol. This can be a limitation in scenarios where network policies or browser compatibility issues arise.

Socket.IO abstracts away the complexities of direct WebSocket communication, providing additional features like automatic fallbacks, room support, and real-time analytics, which are beneficial for complex applications requiring robust real-time capabilities across varied environments.

SockJS focuses on maximizing compatibility and ensuring that real-time communication is possible even in the most restrictive or legacy environments. Its approach to transparent fallback and cross-browser support makes it an excellent choice for projects where reach and reliability are paramount.

In summary, the choice between WebSocket, Socket.IO, and SockJS should be guided by your project's specific requirements, including browser support, network conditions, and the need for additional features like room support or automatic fallback mechanisms. WebSocket offers simplicity and efficiency for environments with stable support, Socket.IO provides a feature-rich layer for building complex real-time applications, and SockJS ensures maximum compatibility and reliability across diverse web environments.

Testable's Cloud Platform can help you automate, execute, report, analyze and collaborate on tests for streaming websites across all three protocols with a range of value added features. Check out our site for more details.