February 25, 2016

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Recently we had to integrate a chat-like comment feature to our new Winnin App Our backend team decided to build it using websockets, so when it came to the app implementation, my first thought was to search for an opensource swift framework that did confirm to the Websocket Protocol. We decided to go with Starscream since it seemed simple and reliable enough.

In the first drafts of the new app, a decision was made to adopt reactive programming in the app, more specifically RxSwift. Many sprints later, we’ve limited our Rx use to cross-object events and network communications. Not surprisingly, we wanted to use websockets reactively.


We designed RxWebSocket to be as lightweight as possible, truly, just making an abstraction layer over Starscream to make it reactive.

All you need is to listen to the stream property which is an Observable<StreamEvent>.

public enum StreamEvent {
    case Connect
    case Disconnect(NSError?)
    case Pong
    case Text(String)
    case Data(NSData)

Using an enum as the element type allows us to have every interaction with the websocket server in one property that is also easily filtered by message type. If we need to know when the websocket connects, we can simply filter the stream:

  .filter {
    switch $0 {
    case .Connect: return true
    default: return false

If your websocket messages the client with a JSON object that you need to parse:

  .flatMap { event -> Observable<AnyObject> in
    switch event {
    case .Text(let text):
      return Observable.just(try NSJSONSerialization.JSONObjectWithData(text.dataUsingEncoding(NSUTF8StringEncoding)!, options: .AllowFragments))
    default: return Observable.empty()

We know it’s still crude and quite simple, which is our intention, but we’ll improve RxWebSocket with time. Every suggestion, comment, critic, PR, etcetera is welcome.

You can check an actual implementation in the example project or by running

pod try RxWebSocket


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