EventBusBridges for Great Good

The SockJS protocol provides a fast and reliable mechanism for providing duplex communication via Websockets.  Vertx has a particularly nice implementation of this in the form of EventBusBridges, which make it easy to create secure communication pipelines between an HttpServer Verticle and a variety of polyglot SockJS clients via Websockets or fallback transports.  Surprisingly, a Java-based EventBusBridgeClient is not among the ootb facilities, even though Java is the main story on the server.  Here I will show you how easy to create your own and a few of the awesome things you can do with it.

The EventBusBridge Server

Router router = Router.router(vertx);

// Allow all addresses to flow in and out on the bridge

BridgeOptions options = new BridgeOptions()
.addInboundPermitted(new PermittedOptions().setAddressRegex(".+"))
.addOutboundPermitted(new PermittedOptions().setAddressRegex(".+"));


// Setup a body handler

HttpServer httpServer = vertx.createHttpServer();

// do server wiring

// Publish a message to "someaddress" on interval
vertx.setPeriodic(5000, t -> {
JsonObject msg = new JsonObject().put("packet", "stuff");
vertx.eventBus().publish("someaddress", msg);

// Consume messages the "importantstuff" address
vertx.eventBus().consumer("importantstuff", msg -> {

With this server code we are extending the EventBus via a Websocket. It’s available to any client that can speak the SockJS protocol. We can also easily write a Java client that will speak the SockJS-protocol to our server.

The Java SockJS Client

private static final String pingMessage;

static {
JsonObject json = new JsonObject();
json.put("type", "ping");
pingMessage = json.encode();

HttpClient client = vertx.createHttpClient();

// We use raw websocket transport
client.websocket(port, host, "/eventbus/websocket", websocket -> {

// Register
JsonObject msg = new JsonObject().put("type", "register").put("address", "someaddress");

// Setup pinging for keepalive
pingTimerId = Vertx.currentContext().owner().setPeriodic(5000, event -> {

// Send to the server
msg = new JsonObject().put("type", "send")
.put("address", "importantstuff")
.put("body", new JsonObject().put("foo", "bar"));

// Receive from the server
websocket.handler(buffer -> {

JsonObject received = new JsonObject(buffer.toString());

logger.info("received message on address: " + received.getString("address"));
logger.info("message body: " + received.getString("body"));

Note that first we must “register” the client with the server. This is accomplished by sending a properly crafted register message, which is just a json packet with the type set to “register” along with the address the client wants to subscribe to. Additionally, the SockJS protocol specifies a “ping” message for keep alive on the socket. We provide a properly crafted pingMessage to enable this at the top of this code.

The envelope for SockJS messages is specified in the protocol to look like this:

"type": "send"|"publish"|"receive"|"register"|"unregister",
"address": the event bus address being sent/published/registered/unregistered
"body": the body of the message

You can see in the client implementation above we performed a “send” by specifying it in the JsonObject envelope.

The operations specified by the protocol are these:

This event will occur when a new SockJS socket is created.

This event will occur when a SockJS socket is closed.

This event will occur when a message is attempted to be sent from the client to the server.

This event will occur when a message is attempted to be published from the client to the server.

This event will occur when a message is attempted to be delivered from the server to the client.

This event will occur when a client attempts to register a handler.

This event will occur when a client attempts to unregister a handler.

You can see how trivial relaying to a proxied address or republishing on a local EventBus might be by simply switching over these operations. In the kinds of patterns this substrates enables, you can see in things like Point-to-Point Channel, Publish-Subscribe Channel, and Scatter-Gather messaging.

The Javascript sockjs-client can be found here. Vertx includes an eventbus-client, vertx-eventbus.js, that utilizes sockjs.js to provide a convenient extension of the EventBus into Javascript apps. This is ideal for running in the browser, bolting realtime messaging directly into your web apps. There is also an npm module that brings allows you to easily snap node apps into your eventing framework. Someone has even recently created a C++ implementation that provides an onramp to your native runtime applications.

This is a fantastically powerful composition medium. I highly recommend it as the foundation for modern, high-speed, real-time software that needs to start small but scale to immense sizes. Thanks to Vertx, its just cake.

Enjoy the cake…

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