10 Uses for Realtime Web Technologies

By: Brad Carleton

So far, this series on Building Realtime HTML5 Apps has been fairly abstract/technical, which is great for my inner nerd. But for this final article, I wanted to focus on real life uses for realtime web technologies. Hopefully, this will give you some interesting ideas for your next side-project or startup idea. Also, if you want to checkout the previous articles, here’s the list:

  1. Browser Wars: Websockets vs Ajax
  2. Single Page Apps & Realtime, a Love Story
  3. Realtime User Interface Design.

On to the list of 10 uses for realtime web technologies:

1. Realtime web analytics

Google has already started pushing into this market with Google Analytics, but there are a lot of other startups exploring this space. If you think about it, there is a ton of opportunity there, as you have the ability to capture and transmit interactive user data like never before. You can track where the mouse floats across the screen, the orientation of a mobile device, and any number of other user interactions. Not only could you track them, but you could actually watch them as they happen!

2. Digital Advertising

The digital advertising world has long been a solid revenue generator for web-based businesses. With realtime web technologies, advertisers can move towards more interesting advertising paradigms, such as charging for ads based on the amount of time the ad is visible on a user’s screen or other realtime interaction metrics vs the CPM and CPC metrics that have long been the standard.

3. E-Commerce

E-commerce has always been a hotbed for engaging customers and customer interactions. Showing shoppers what other shoppers are looking at online, or pushing out online deals directly to all connected browsers are the types of realtime features that e-commerce platforms will look to adopt in the future.

4. Publishing

Keeping eyeballs on the screen is the primary goal on any online publisher, and one way to keep visitors on your site is to keep them engaged. Realtime data can lead to some very interesting infographics, and it can also help connect viewers like never before. A great example is some of the realtime comments like Disqus.

5. Massively Multiplayer Online Games

Those big MMO games are making there way on to the web, and they will surely find a friend in realtime web technologies. Many multiplayer games depend on low latency communications between individual gamers, and for this technologies like WebSockets are ideal.

6. Backend Services and Messaging

Our backend systems have grown in scale and complexity over the last decade, and it is becoming increasingly important to propagate messages across very large systems effectively and efficiently. The realtime web is going to be great for these types of functions.

7. Project Management & Collaboration

Google docs and other platforms have already demonstrated the value (and potential complexity) in implementing realtime collaborative environments on the Web. The new era of realtime web technologies will hopefully make the development of these types of applications simpler and easier to build. Which is great because most web applications are not built in a vacuum, so having the ability to connect all those users together in constructive and insightful ways should be able to add value their workflows.

8. Realtime Monitoring Services

The bi-directional communication channel is great for remote devices or servers to stay connected to a central monitoring service. This gives techs and admins the ability to watch what their endpoints are doing in realtime without logging into the machine, and also gives the ability to send realtime alerts.

9.Live Charting and Graphing

Charts and graphs have always been a great way to visualize data. Now you can have those graphs and charts connected to realtime data flows. The possibilities are literally endless, from displaying temperature data measured from a connected home device to streaming stock prices to realtime chart.

10. Group and Private Chat

Chat has long been the de-facto example for realtime since by it’s very nature it requires realtime bi-directional communication. Chat is a great use for realtime web technologies, and variations on group chats and private chats could lead to more innovation in this area over the coming years.

This is the last article in my series on Building Realtime HTML5 Apps. I hope that you were able to take away some key insights about this exciting new web technology. Please feel free to follow me on the twitter, and let me know about your adventures building realtime HTML5 apps!

Brad is a badass JavaScript coder who enjoys building cool stuff and long walks on the beach. As the Founder/CTO at TechPines, he has worked with large companies and startups to build cutting-edge applications based on HTML5 and Node.js. He is the creator of Bone.io, a realtime HTML5 framework, and is the author of Embracing Disruption: A Cloud Revolution Manifesto.

Realtime User Interface Design