Creating an XPages Websockets chat client using Bluemix

In this article I will demonstrate how I was able to take an example Bluemix, node.js based, websocket chat program and re-purpose it to be used in XPages.

Introduction

Earlier this year I was very excited to find the Websockets in XPages project on OpenNTF published by Mark Ambler. The concept behind that project is to be able to create a notes document in a queue which is processed and then send out to all users. As much as I promised to help out and use the project, life and a business need to learn and use Angular.js got in the way. My abject apologies to Mark for not following through on my promise to help move the project along.

With this article though, I want to start my exploration of using an external Websockets server to transmit messages to my XPages applications. One of the *nice* things about Websockets is that unlike JavaScript AJAX they are *not* restricted by CORS. This means that I can host my Websockets server anywhere. In this case it is a win win for me as I get to learn more about Bluemix, node.js, websockets and other NoSQL databases like Redis in this case.

Creating a Websockets chat example in Bluemix

I found this article on Create an HTML5 chat app on Bluemix with Node.js, Redis, and Socket.io and following it through I was able to get my own chat program up and running within an hour or so.

ws1

It is not an especially difficult example to follow but I did find that it helped to understand a little about Bluemix and how a node.js application is put together. You should be able to figure it out though just following through the example.

The code for the original example can be found here https://hub.jazz.net/project/joelennon/bluemixchat/overview?welcome= if you want to take a look at it.

Porting the “client” to an XPage

Within the original example, the interface makes a connection to a Redis database to store the last 99 entries of the chat. Within the XPages example I could do that but I am not going to at this time. So the XPages interface will lose chat history when you refresh the page. I am not really concerned about that in the big picture.

Because I had all the files locally I was able to create a new IBM Domino database and drag the files into the WebContent directory. Within node.js the “Public” directory is assigned to the root of the server, but in this case I removed the public folder as it is unnecessary.

w2s2

 

The original example uses the jade templating engine to create the web page. But in this case I felt lazy and just viewed the source of the example once it was working and then extracted all the HTML I needed.

Moving socket.io to the HEAD

Because this is XPages and because we have dojo and I am sure I have pointed out before – we have to move the files to the HTML HEAD in such a manner as they come before Dojo within the application. Socket.io is apparently one such JavaScript library.

The HTML of the XPage is relatively simple. As you can see below we a using the xp:resources tag to insert the same HTML references to the local files as they were in the original example.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<xp:view xmlns:xp="http://www.ibm.com/xsp/core">

	<link rel="stylesheet" href="//cdn.jsdelivr.net/normalize/3.0.1/normalize.min.css"/>
	<link rel="stylesheet" href="stylesheets/style.css"/>

	<xp:this.resources>
		<xp:headTag tagName="script">
			<xp:this.attributes>
				<xp:parameter name="type" value="text/javascript" />
				<xp:parameter name="src" value="//cdn.jsdelivr.net/jquery/2.1.1/jquery.min.js" />
			</xp:this.attributes>
		</xp:headTag>
		<xp:headTag tagName="script">
			<xp:this.attributes>
				<xp:parameter name="type" value="text/javascript" />
				<xp:parameter name="src" value="socket.io/socket.io.js" />
			</xp:this.attributes>
		</xp:headTag>
		<xp:headTag tagName="script">
			<xp:this.attributes>
				<xp:parameter name="type" value="text/javascript" />
				<xp:parameter name="src" value="javascripts/client.js" />
			</xp:this.attributes>
		</xp:headTag>
	</xp:this.resources>

	<h1>XPages Websocket Chat using Bluemix</h1>

	<input id="msg" autocomplete="off" autofocus="autofocus"/>
	<button type="submit">Send</button>

	<ul id="messages">
	</ul>

</xp:view>

 The critical difference – the server connection

Within the original example the socket code was on the same server as the client creating the messages. In this case they are not as my XPages server is wholly independent of Bluemix.

So I had to change the initial connection to the websocket server. Within the client.js file I changed the first line from

$(document).ready(function() {
  var socket = io(), nickname, msgList = $('#messages');
  ...

to the following

$(document).ready(function() {
  var socket = io.connect('http://xominosocket.mybluemix.net') //connect to the Bluemix server
  var nickname, msgList = $('#messages');
  ...

With these changes and a couple of stupid spelling mistake corrections I was able to bring my application up within my xSocket XPage.

ws3

You can see from the Firebug console that the copper.xomino.com application is talking to the xominosocket.bluemix.net application

Mobile Compatible

Yes you have to be connected to the website (rather than OS Push notification) but websockets works on iOS7+ and Android 4.4+

(http://caniuse.com/#feat=websockets)

Screenshot_2014-11-08-11-47-45

Conclusion

There is a lot more detail which we can go into as to how this example works but in the mean time if you want to play with it.

Here is the Bluemix Page: http://xominosocket.mybluemix.net/ (with chat history)

Here is an XPage: http://demo.xomino.com/xomino/WSinX.nsf/xSocket.xsp (no history)

For the full effect – open each link in a different browser and you can talk to yourself😉

You can find my Bluemix code on Jazz Hub – https://hub.jazz.net/project/mdroden/xominosocket/overview.

3 thoughts on “Creating an XPages Websockets chat client using Bluemix

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