Building Real-time Chat Applications with and Node.js


In this tutorial, we'll walk through the process of building a real-time chat application using and Node.js. Real-time chat applications allow users to communicate instantly, making them ideal for messaging platforms, collaborative tools, and more. By the end of this guide, you'll have a basic understanding of how to set up a WebSocket server, handle events, and integrate the chat functionality with a front-end framework.


Before we begin, make sure you have the following:

  1. Basic knowledge of JavaScript and Node.js.
  2. Node.js installed on your machine.
  3. A code editor such as Visual Studio Code or Sublime Text.

Setting Up the Project

Step 1: Initialize a new Node.js project

First, let's create a new directory for our project and initialize a new Node.js project using npm.

mkdir real-time-chat-app
cd real-time-chat-app
npm init -y

Step 2: Install dependencies

Next, install the necessary dependencies: and Express.

npm install express

Creating the Server

Step 3: Setting up the WebSocket server

Now, let's create a server.js file and set up our WebSocket server using

// server.js
const express = require('express');
const http = require('http');
const socketIo = require('');

const app = express();
const server = http.createServer(app);
const io = socketIo(server);

const PORT = process.env.PORT || 3000;

server.listen(PORT, () => {
  console.log(`Server running on port ${PORT}`);

// logic goes here

Handling Socket Events

Step 4: Handling connection and disconnection events provides built-in events for handling connection and disconnection of clients. Let's add logic to handle these events.

// server.js
io.on('connection', (socket) => {
  console.log('A user connected');

  socket.on('disconnect', () => {
    console.log('User disconnected');

Implementing Chat Functionality

Step 5: Implementing chat messages

Now, let's implement the functionality to send and receive chat messages.

// server.js
io.on('connection', (socket) => {
  console.log('A user connected');

  socket.on('disconnect', () => {
    console.log('User disconnected');

  socket.on('chat message', (message) => {
    console.log('message: ' + message);
    io.emit('chat message', message);

Step 6: Integrating with the front-end

Finally, let's create a basic HTML file to serve as our front-end.

<!-- index.html -->
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <meta charset="UTF-8">
  <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
  <title>Real-time Chat</title>
  <ul id="messages"></ul>
  <form id="form" action="">
    <input id="input" autocomplete="off">

  <script src="/"></script>
    var socket = io();

    var form = document.getElementById('form');
    var input = document.getElementById('input');

    form.addEventListener('submit', function(e) {
      if (input.value) {
        socket.emit('chat message', input.value);
        input.value = '';

    socket.on('chat message', function(msg) {
      var item = document.createElement('li');
      item.textContent = msg;

Running the Application

Step 7: Run the server

Run the server using the following command:

node server.js

Open your web browser and navigate to http://localhost:3000. You should see the chat interface. Open multiple tabs or browsers to test real-time communication.


Congratulations! You've successfully built a real-time chat application using and Node.js. You can further enhance this application by adding features like user authentication, private messaging, or message persistence. Experiment with different front-end frameworks and customize the design to fit your needs. Happy coding!

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