animesh kumar

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Posts Tagged ‘Android

WebSocket support in Android’s Phonegap apps

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We are developing a small game which can be played from multiple users using variety of clients, web-browser, Android, iPhone, iPad etc. It’s like, there is a server and all clients connect to this server, and send and receive messages. We decided to use WebSocket for underlying connection between clients and server, and Phonegap to build clients. Our idea is to write the client once and then run it on variety of platforms. Since, Phonegap enables app development using HTML, CSS and JavaScripts, it generously fits into our requirement.

But Phonegap doesn’t support WebSocket yet, it’s in their Plan-of-Action for 1.x release though. So, it was needed to be addressed. I found Mathias Desloge’s PhoneGap-Android-HTML5-WebSocket project. It was good but it used old* packages. I would have preferred to use java.nio.* for better and efficient non-blocking behavior. So, I decided to write my own small library.

Library can be found here: websocket-android-phonegap.

How to use?

  1. Copy Java source into your source folder.
  2. Copy websocket.js in your assets/www/js folder
  3. Attach com.strumsoft.websocket.phonegap.WebSocketFactory to WebView, like
    	public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
    		// attach websocket factory
    		appView.addJavascriptInterface(new WebSocketFactory(appView), "WebSocketFactory");
  4. In your page, create a new WebSocket, and overload its method ‘onmessage’, ‘onopen’, ‘onclose’, like
    	// new socket
    	var socket = new WebSocket('ws://');
    	// push a message after the connection is established.
    	socket.onopen = function() {
    	// alerts message pushed from server
    	socket.onmessage = function(msg) {
    	// alert close event
    	socket.onclose = function() {

How it works?

When you create a new WebSocket object in your page, behind the scene, websocket.js delegates the responsibility to com.strumsoft.websocket.phonegap.WebSocketFactory to instantiate new com.strumsoft.websocket.phonegap.WebSocket object.

		// websocket.js
		// get a new websocket object from factory (check
		this.socket = WebSocketFactory.getWebSocket(url);

WebSocketFactory simply instantiates a new WebSocket object, connects it to the designated server and returns the instance.

// com.strumsoft.websocket.phonegap.WebSocketFactory

public WebSocket getWebSocket(String url) throws URISyntaxException {
	WebSocket socket =  new WebSocket(appView, new URI(url));
	socket.connect();   // connects to server
	return socket;

Now, whenever an event occurs, say, ‘onmessage’, WebSocket class delegates that event to Javascript.

// com.strumsoft.websocket.phonegap.WebSocket

public void onMessage(String message) {
	appView.loadUrl(buildLoadData("message", message));
private String buildLoadData(String _event, String _data) {
	String _d =  "javascript:WebSocket.on" + _event + "(" + 
				+ "\"_target\":\"" + webSocketId + "\"," + 
				"\"_data\":'" + data + "'" + 
				"}" + 
	return _d;

Finally, ‘WebSocket.onmessage’ from websocket.js is called. It parses the payload, finds out the target WebSocket object, and calls the corresponding event on the target object with event data.

	// websocket.js
	// static event methods to call event methods on target websocket objects
	WebSocket.onmessage = function (evt) {
		WebSocket.registry[evt._target]['onmessage'].call(global, evt._data);

That’s it!


(Date: Thu Aug 25 12:40:52 IST 2011)

There was a serious bug! The Websocket connection runs in a separate thread to manage persistent state with the server. And the front end Javascript (websocket.js) stays within UI/Main thread. And Android doesn’t want other threads to communicate with UI thread directly. These threads must employ an additional thread to bridge the communication. So, here is the fix!

	// a message is sent to server! 
	public void send(final String text) {
		// new thread
		new Thread(new Runnable() {
			public void run() {
				if (instance.readyState == WEBSOCKET_STATE_OPEN) {
					try {
					} catch (IOException e) {
				} else {
					instance.onError(new NotYetConnectedException());

	// when a message is received
	public void onMessage(final String msg) {
		// post a new thread to View Runnable() {
			public void run() {
				appView.loadUrl(buildJavaScriptData(EVENT_ON_MESSAGE, msg));

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Written by Animesh

February 3, 2011 at 11:52 am

Posted in Technology

Tagged with , , ,