Developer Onboarding Guide

Chapter 3

A quick overview of Ably’s products

1. Channels

Channels are the unit of data distribution in Ably. They enable you to categorically share different sets of data with different clients.

A good example is a logistics app. When new location updates are available, they are pushed directly to the location channel and all it's subscribers - in this case a mobile app, a webpage and an internal server - receive this data in realtime. However, if the server needs to share some other data, like the job updates only with the truck, it can use a different channel to do so, making sure the other clients don't participate in this data transfer.

2. Protocol Adapters

Ably’s protocol adapters provide interoperability between the Ably Protocol and other push-based realtime, streaming & queueing protocols like MQTT, Server Sent Events (SSE), and the PubNub & Pusher protocols. This allows you to seamlessly switch between protocols with no integration work so you can use the best protocol for your specific task at hand.

Developers use Ably’s Protocol Adapters in three main ways:

  • To migrate from legacy or proprietary systems in a progressive way
  • When a wide array of devices or third party systems need to connect into a single realtime messaging layer but may not be able or willing to adopt the native Ably protocol. For example, customers working with IoT devices might primarily use MQTT to stream data bidirectionally in a more battery- or compute-efficient way. But have a smartphone subscribe to that data over WebSockets
  • To future-proof their technology stack. Ably is committed to supporting new realtime protocols as they emerge

3. Reactor

The Ably Reactor helps you run realtime applications at scale and connect different parts of your systems with Ably. By providing ready-built data processing pipelines the Reactor takes care of the complexity of delivering high volumes of data reliably, directly to other clouds, queues, and even triggering serverless functions as the happen.

A few things you can do with Reactor:

  • Invoke functions in realtime within your own servers using WebHooks.
  • Invoke serverless functions in realtime across third-party providers like Amazon Lambda, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure.
  • Queue data into your servers with message queues so you can distribute the burden of consuming realtime messages without system overload.
  • Connect to other third-party streaming services such as Kafka, RabbitMQ, Amazon SQS, Amazon Kinesis with Firehose.

4. Push Notifications

With Ably’s unified push notifications API you can connect to the native iOS and Android push notification services, all without leaving Ably, and seamlessly send push notifications to all your users.

5. API Streamer

The realtime API economy is exploding. Our most important digital interactions now happen in realtime. As such, end-users increasingly expect realtime features and functionality in their applications and APIs. Now is the perfect time to expand your realtime development into API creation.

Ably's API Streamer is already helping developers by offering the tools and distribution network to rapidly deploy, manage, and distribute Realtime APIs with almost no development time. Because API Streamer allows developers to completely offload the cost and heavy engineering lifting involved in effectively distributing realtime data streams, it really is a simple matter of deploying to API Streamer and sending users to a developer portal.

You gain all the management tools you’d expect: auth, developer portals, rate-limiting, caching, security, billing, monetization, and analytics. You can create an API and monetize your realtime data feeds instantly.

Up next: Open data streaming and the Ably Hub →

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