Websocket adoption and the landscape of the real-time web

Paul Murley, Zane Ma, Joshua Mason, Michael Bailey, Amin Kharraz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Developers are increasingly deploying web applications which require real-time bidirectional updates, a use case which does not naturally align with the traditional client-server architecture of the web. Many solutions have arisen to address this need over the preceding decades, including HTTP polling, Server-Sent Events, and WebSockets. This paper investigates this ecosystem and reports on the prevalence, benefits, and drawbacks of these technologies, with a particular focus on the adoption of WebSockets. We crawl the Tranco Top 1 Million websites to build a dataset for studying real-time updates in the wild. We find that HTTP Polling remains significantly more common than WebSockets, and WebSocket adoption appears to have stagnated in the past two to three years. We investigate some of the possible reasons for this decrease in the rate of adoption, and we contrast the adoption process to that of other web technologies. Our findings further suggest that even when WebSockets are employed, the prescribed best practices for securing them are often disregarded. The dataset is made available in the hopes that it may help inform the development of future real-time solutions for the web.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Web Conference 2021 - Proceedings of the World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2021
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781450383127
StatePublished - Apr 19 2021
Event2021 World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2021 - Ljubljana, Slovenia
Duration: Apr 19 2021Apr 23 2021

Publication series

NameThe Web Conference 2021 - Proceedings of the World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2021


Conference2021 World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2021


  • Abuse
  • Adoption
  • Measurement
  • Performance
  • Polling
  • Security
  • WebSocket

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Software


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