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Namespaces

A Namespace is a communication channel that allows you to split the logic of your application over a single shared connection.

Namespace diagram

Possible use cases:

  • you want to create an admin namespace that only authorized users have access to, so the logic related to those users is separated from the rest of the application
const adminNamespace = io.of('/admin');

adminNamespace.use((socket, next) => {
// ensure the user has sufficient rights
next();
});

adminNamespace.on('connection', socket => {
socket.on('delete user', () => {
// ...
});
});
  • your application has multiple tenants so you want to dynamically create one namespace per tenant
const workspaces = io.of(/^\/\w+$/);

workspaces.on('connection', socket => {
const workspace = socket.nsp;

workspace.emit('hello');
});

// this middleware will be assigned to each namespace
workspaces.use((socket, next) => {
// ensure the user has access to the workspace
next();
});

Default namespace

We call the default namespace / and it’s the one Socket.IO clients connect to by default, and the one the server listens to by default.

This namespace is identified by io.sockets or simply io:

// the following two will emit to all the sockets connected to `/`
io.sockets.emit('hi', 'everyone');
io.emit('hi', 'everyone'); // short form

Each namespace emits a connection event that receives each Socket instance as a parameter

io.on('connection', socket => {
socket.on('disconnect', () => {});
});

Custom namespaces

To set up a custom namespace, you can call the of function on the server-side:

const nsp = io.of('/my-namespace');

nsp.on('connection', socket => {
console.log('someone connected');
});

nsp.emit('hi', 'everyone!');

On the client side, you tell Socket.IO client to connect to that namespace:

const socket = io('/my-namespace');

Important note: The namespace is an implementation detail of the Socket.IO protocol, and is not related to the actual URL of the underlying transport, which defaults to /socket.io/….

Namespace middleware

A middleware is a function that gets executed for every incoming Socket, and receives as parameters the socket and a function to optionally defer execution to the next registered middleware. A Socket.IO middleware is very similar to what you can find in Express.

// registers a middleware for the default namespace
io.use((socket, next) => {
if (isValid(socket.request)) {
next();
} else {
next(new Error('invalid'));
}
});

// registers a middleware for a custom namespace
io.of('/admin').use(async (socket, next) => {
const user = await fetchUser(socket.handshake.query);
if (user.isAdmin) {
socket.user = user;
next();
} else {
next(new Error('forbidden'));
}
});

You can register several middleware functions for the same namespace. They will be executed sequentially:

io.use((socket, next) => {
next();
});

io.use((socket, next) => {
next(new Error('thou shall not pass'));
});

io.use((socket, next) => {
// not executed, since the previous middleware has returned an error
next();
});

Handling middleware error

If the next method is called with an Error object, the client will receive an connect_error event.

import { io } from 'socket.io-client';

const socket = io();

socket.on('connect_error', (err) => {
console.log(err.message); // prints the message associated with the error, e.g. "thou shall not pass" in the example above
});

Compatibility with Express middleware

Most existing Express middleware modules should be compatible with Socket.IO, you just need a little wrapper function to make the method signatures match:

const wrap = middleware => (socket, next) => middleware(socket.request, {}, next);

The middleware functions that end the request-response cycle and do not call next() will not work though.

Example with express-session:

const session = require('express-session');

io.use(wrap(session({ secret: 'cats' })));

io.on('connection', (socket) => {
const session = socket.request.session;
});

Example with Passport:

const session = require('express-session');
const passport = require('passport');

io.use(wrap(session({ secret: 'cats' })));
io.use(wrap(passport.initialize()));
io.use(wrap(passport.session()));

io.use((socket, next) => {
if (socket.request.user) {
next();
} else {
next(new Error('unauthorized'))
}
});

A complete example with Passport can be found here.

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