Your website’s missing ingredient—part one revealed that a recent revolutionary upgrade to the World Wide Web has not spurred the revolution it should have. Here, in part two, you will learn what a few revolutionaries are doing with push. You will also learn why and how your website should join the revolution.
Disqus, a popular “comment hosting service” uses push to update the comments on a Web page, without requiring the visitor to refresh to see new comments posted since the user landed on the Web page. The Disqus Web server will push the new comment for a given page (blog post, perhaps) to all visitors presently on that page, at one time, as soon as the commenter submits it. We have waited a very long time for this to function as it should, with no refresh required.
ShootR is a Web-browser-based game created to demonstrate that lots of data can be pushed to lots of users frequently (many times per second), quickly (fractions of a second), and efficiently (without all of the extra payload data previously required). Take heed — this game could not work without the full duplex (two-way communication) of the connection used for push. That connection is a WebSocket. In ShootR, each player’s Web browser rapidly pushes the spacecraft position data and shot-fired data to the ShootR Web server. That Web server immediately pushes it out to all other players’ Web browsers! This is true two-way push, versus the old HTML 4 push-pull. Revolutionary.
Before HTML5, there actually were techniques to create the illusion of push for scenarios like the Disqus comments above. They were problematic and expensive to implement, because they varied widely across platforms, and they were workarounds. They were just too slow and too inefficient to facilitate anything like the ShootR game. Business is no game, but games are a good stress test for technology.
Dogfooding, of sorts
As soon as the W3C finalized HTML 5 WebSockets and its push capability, a VIP-client — named quench—challenged its own digital and interactive teams to leverage push to provide an ongoing glimpse into the food and beverage world’s social buzz. The resulting implementation of push lives on the quench homepage! That is no place to hide some for-the-sake-of-it instance of tech. At quench we leverage the most common use of push, known as real-time data. There are other uses, for sure, but “real-time” makes push shine.
We receive social activity of interest, in real-time, from social sources, such as Twitter. Our servers receive it, analyze it, process it, and push selected activity out to every visitor on our homepage — in real-time! Note that we cannot push information to someone who has not requested it by visiting our homepage. This is an implied pub-sub relationship. Our homepage visitors are subscribers to our real-time, food-and-beverage social feed. We then publish selected social activity, based on our proprietary analysis and filtering, in the form of incremental updates to the chart and associated detailed views on our homepage. Revolutionary.
Does your business need push?
At just under a year old, push is still new, but it is certainly not bleeding-edge anymore. There is no time like the present to incorporate push into your expectations of what your business can deliver to visitors of your websites and users of your applications. Of course, the quench teams capable and willing to help you. Simply contact us to get started. Additionally, you should expect your Web-based service providers to leverage push to add value to the services you receive.
To state it plainly, push is the missing ingredient from your website. If you cannot imagine a place for it in your business’ website, read on. The most promising use for WebSocket’s push applies to all business websites: real-time clickstream data and Web analytics. Imagine being able to see clearly how visitors are navigating and using your website — as it happens — singularly or in aggregate! Ironically, the reverse push capability of WebSockets (illustrated by the ShootR player’s browser pushing position data to the server) will drive the next leap in clickstream and Web analytics. You surely want better information about the way your consumers consume your website, but do not stop there. Join the revolution; your competitors may be reading this, too.
Marketing lesson: Today’s Web-savvy users expect more interaction than ever to get and keep them engaged with your brand.
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