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Next.js and SignalR: Effortless Socket Integration and Troubleshootingby@chilledcowfan
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Next.js and SignalR: Effortless Socket Integration and Troubleshooting

by Anton BurduzhaSeptember 5th, 2023
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A massive number of projects require web sockets integration to provide instant reaction of an interface on changes without re-fetching data. We are not going to talk about them or make a comparison between 3rd-party libraries that provide API for a better dev experience. My goal is to show how to integrate quickly `@microsoft/signalr` with NextJs.
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A minority, but still a massive number of projects, require web sockets integration to provide instant reaction of an interface on changes without re-fetching data.


It’s an essential thing, and we are not going to talk about them or make a comparison between 3rd-party libraries that provide API for a better dev experience.


My goal is to show how to integrate quickly @microsoft/signalr with NextJs. And how to solve the problems we faced during development.


I hope everyone has already installed and deployed the NextJS project locally. In my case, the version is 13.2.4 . Let’s add some more important libraries: swr (version 2.1.5) for data fetching and further work with the local cache and @microsoft/signalr (version 7.0.5) - API for web sockets.


npm install --save @microsoft/signalr swr


Let’s start with creating a simple fetcher function and a new hook called useChatData to get initial data from our REST API. It returns a list of the messages for the chat, fields that detect errors and loading state, and the method mutate that allows to change cached data.


// hooks/useChatData.ts
import useSWR from 'swr';

type Message = {
    content: string;
    createdAt: Date;
    id: string;
};

async function fetcher<TResponse>(url: string, config: RequestInit): Promise<TResponse> {
    const response = await fetch(url, config);
    if (!response.ok) {
        throw response;
    }
    return await response.json();
}

export const useChatData = () => {
    const { data, error, isLoading, mutate } = useSWR<Message[]>('OUR_API_URL', fetcher);
    return {
        data: data || [],
        isLoading,
        isError: error,
        mutate,
    };
};


To test that it works as it is supposed, let’s update our page component. Import our hook at the top, and extract data from it like in the snippet below. If it works, you will see rendered data. As you see, it’s quite simple.


// pages/chat.ts
import { useChatData } from 'hooks/useChatData';

const Chat: NextPage = () => {
	const { data } = useChatData();

	return (
		<div>
            {data.map(item => (
                <div key={item.id}>{item.content}</div>
             ))}
        </div>	
	);
};


The next step requires connecting our future page to web sockets, catching NewMessage events, and updating a cache with a new message. I propose to start with building the socket service in a separate file.


According to the examples in SignalR docs, we have to create an instance of connection for further listening to events. I also added a connections object for preventing duplicates and two helpers to start/stop the connections.


// api/socket.ts
import { HubConnection, HubConnectionBuilder, LogLevel } from '@microsoft/signalr';

let connections = {} as { [key: string]: { type: string; connection: HubConnection; started: boolean } };

function createConnection(messageType: string) {
    const connectionObj = connections[messageType];
    if (!connectionObj) {
        console.log('SOCKET: Registering on server events ', messageType);
        const connection = new HubConnectionBuilder()
            .withUrl('API_URL', {
                logger: LogLevel.Information,
                withCredentials: false,
            })
            .withAutomaticReconnect()
            .build();

        connections[messageType] = {
            type: messageType,
            connection: connection,
            started: false,
        };
        return connection;
    } else {
        return connections[messageType].connection;
    }
}

function startConnection(messageType: string) {
    const connectionObj = connections[messageType];
    if (!connectionObj.started) {
        connectionObj.connection.start().catch(err => console.error('SOCKET: ', err.toString()));
        connectionObj.started = true;
    }
}

function stopConnection(messageType: string) {
    const connectionObj = connections[messageType];
    if (connectionObj) {
        console.log('SOCKET: Stoping connection ', messageType);
        connectionObj.connection.stop();
        connectionObj.started = false;
    }
}

function registerOnServerEvents(
    messageType: string,
    callback: (payload: Message) => void,
) {
    try {
        const connection = createConnection(messageType);
        connection.on('NewIncomingMessage', (payload: Message) => {
            callback(payload);
        });
        connection.onclose(() => stopConnection(messageType));
        startConnection(messageType);
    } catch (error) {
        console.error('SOCKET: ', error);
    }
}

export const socketService = {
    registerOnServerEvents,
    stopConnection,
};


So now, our page might look like in the code snippet. We fetch and extract data with the list of messages and render them. Also, useEffect above registers the NewMessage event, creates a connection, and listens to the backend.


When the event triggers, the mutate method from the hook updates the existing list with a new object.


// pages/chat.ts
import { useChatData } from 'hooks/useChatData';
import { socketService } from 'api/socket';

const Chat: NextPage = () => {
	const { data } = useChatData();

	useEffect(() => {
        socketService.registerOnServerEvents(
            'NewMessage',
            (payload: Message) => {
                mutate(() => [...data, payload], { revalidate: false });
            }
        );
    }, [data]);

	useEffect(() => {
        return () => {
            socketService.stopConnection('NewMessage');
        };
    }, []);

	return (
		<div>
            {data.map(item => (
                <div key={item.id}>{item.content}</div>
            ))}
        </div>	
	);
};


Looks good to me, it works, and we see how new messages appear in the feed. I chose the basic example with chat because it’s clear and easy to understand. And, of course, you apply it on your own logic.

Small Bonus

Using one of the versions (@microsoft/signalr), we faced a problem with duplications. It was connected to useEffect, the dependency array. Each time the dependency was changed, connection.on(event, callback); cached callback and triggered it again and again.


useEffect(() => {
    // data equals [] by default (registerOnServerEvents 1 run),
    // but after initial data fetching it changes (registerOnServerEvents 2 run)
    // each event changes data and triggers runnning of registerOnServerEvents
    socketService.registerOnServerEvents(
        'NewMessage',
		// callback cached
        (payload: Message) => {
		// mutate called multiple times on each data change
            mutate(() => [...data, payload], { revalidate: false });
        }
    );
}, [data]);
// after getting 3 messages events, we had got 4 messages rendered lol


The quickest and most reliable solution we found was keeping a copy of data inside the React ref and using it inside useEffect for future updates.


// pages/chat.ts
import { useChatData } from 'hooks/useChatData';
import { socketService } from 'api/socket';

const Chat: NextPage = () => {
	const { data } = useChatData();
	const messagesRef = useRef<Message[]>([]);

	useEffect(() => {
	     messagesRef.current = chatData;
    }, [chatData]);

	useEffect(() => {
        socketService.registerOnServerEvents(
            'NewMessage',
            (payload: Message) => {
			    const messagesCopy = messagesRef.current.slice();
                mutate(() => [...messagesCopy, payload], { revalidate: false });
            }
        );
    }, [data]);

	useEffect(() => {
        return () => {
            socketService.stopConnection('NewMessage');
        };
    }, []);

	return (
		<div>
            {data.map(item => (
                <div key={item.id}>{item.content}</div>
            ))}
        </div>	
	);
};


Currently, we use a new version of @microsoft/signalr which it seems already has necessary fixes. But anyway, if someone finds this solution useful and uses this workaround, I will be happy. To conclude, I want to say that my experience with SignalR is quite positive, installation didn’t require any specific dependencies or settings, and it works fine and covers our needs.