How to Build a Simple Web Server with WebSockets using JavaScript

  • 23 Oct, 2023
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In this tutorial, we will learn how to create a basic web server using JavaScript and WebSockets. We will explore what sockets are, how JavaScript abstracts sockets, and what TCP is. By the end of this guide, you will have a better understanding of these technologies and be equipped to create your own web server.

Table of Contents:

  1. What are WebSockets?
  2. JavaScript and Socket Abstraction
  3. Understanding TCP
  4. Creating a Simple Web Server using WebSockets 4.1 Setting up a Basic Web Server 4.2 Implementing WebSocket Communication
  5. Conclusion
  6. References
  7. What are WebSockets? WebSockets are a communication protocol that enables real-time, bidirectional communication between a client (usually a web browser) and a server. Unlike traditional HTTP, WebSockets provide a persistent connection that allows both the server and client to initiate communication at any time. This makes WebSockets ideal for applications that require real-time updates or active data exchange.
  8. JavaScript and Socket Abstraction: JavaScript simplifies socket programming by abstracting its complexity. Instead of dealing with low-level socket operations directly, JavaScript provides high-level APIs like WebSocket, which make it easier to establish and manage socket connections.
  9. Understanding TCP: To understand WebSockets, it’s crucial to grasp the underlying transport protocol, TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). TCP is a reliable, connection-oriented protocol that ensures data integrity between two endpoints. It breaks data into packets and includes mechanisms to handle packet loss, reordering, and flow control.
  10. Creating a Simple Web Server using WebSockets:

4.1 Setting up a Basic Web Server: To begin, we need a basic web server to serve our web application. There are multiple ways to achieve this, but let’s use Node.js, a JavaScript runtime, to create our server. Make sure you have Node.js installed on your machine before proceeding.

Step 1: Create a new directory for your project and navigate into it.

mkdir websocket-server
cd websocket-server

Step 2: Initialize a new Node.js project and install the required dependencies.

npm init -y
npm install express

Step 3: Create a file named server.js and open it in your preferred code editor.

Step 4: Import the necessary modules and create an instance of the Express application.

const express = require('express');
const app = express();

Step 5: Define a route to serve your web application.


Step 6: Start the server on a specified port (e.g., 3000).

app.listen(3000, () => {
  console.log('Server is running on port 3000...');

4.2 Implementing WebSocket Communication: Now that we have our basic web server up and running, let’s implement WebSocket communication.

Step 1: Install the websocket package.

npm install websocket

Step 2: In server.js, import the websocket module.

const WebSocket = require('websocket').server;

Step 3: Create a WebSocket server attached to your Express server.

const http = require('http');
const server = http.createServer(app);

const wsServer = new WebSocket({ httpServer: server });

Step 4: Define the event handlers for WebSocket connections.

wsServer.on('request', (request) => {
  const connection = request.accept(null, request.origin);

  // Handle incoming messages
  connection.on('message', (message) => {
    // Process incoming message

  // Handle connection close
  connection.on('close', () => {
    // Handle connection closure

Step 5: Start the server.

server.listen(8080, () => {
  console.log('WebSocket server is running on port 8080...');

Congratulations! You have successfully created a simple web server using WebSockets.

  1. Conclusion: In this tutorial, we explored the basics of WebSockets, how JavaScript abstracts socket programming, and the underlying protocol, TCP. We then used these concepts to create a simple web server using WebSockets, enhancing real-time communication capabilities. Feel free to experiment and build upon this foundation to create more powerful and complex web servers.
  2. References:

Please note that the code examples provided are for demonstration purposes only and may require additional configuration or error handling in a production environment. Make sure to refer to the official documentation and other reliable sources for a comprehensive understanding of the concepts discussed.

Let me know if you need any further assistance!