Relay that forwards web push notifications to APNs, built for Toot!.app but usable for anyone.
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This is a small service, written in Go, that can be set as an endpoint for web push notifications, and forwards the encrypted payloads it receives to an iOS app through APNs. It is designed to forward notifications from Mastodon to the iOS client Toot!, but may be of use in other cases too.


Run go build, run ./toot-relay. It will listen on port 42069. Subscribe to web pushes using the endpoint http://<your-domain-name>:42069/relay-to/<environment>/<device-token>[/extra], where <environment> is either development or production, <device-token> is the hex encoded device token for the device to push to, and extra is any extra information you want relayed back to your client.

You will need a push notification certificate, which should be put in the same directory, named toot-relay.p12. With a production certificate, both pushing to production and development environments works. With a development certificate, only development will work.


A simple Dockerfile is included for running the service containerised. It has been tested with the following hosting solutions:

  • Zeit Now - There is also a configuration file (now.json) for using this service to host it. It requites adding the p12 file as a base 64 encoded secret: now secrets add p12-base64 "$(cat toot-relay.p12 | base64)
  • Heroku - Add a configuration var named P12_BASE64 containing the base 64 encoded p12 file.


This is a fairly minimal implementation of only the parts of RFC 8030 that are required to relay push notifications from Mastodon. It only supports the simple POST requests, and not async requests with receipts.

It does support the various headers, such as TTL:, Urgency:, and Topic:, which are converted into expiration time, priority (very-low and low are 5, high and very-high are 10), and collapse ID.

The returned Location: header is nonsensical, but contains the APNs ID. I did not read the spec closely enough to see if this address is actually used for anything, but I do not think it is needed by Mastodon.

Currently only Content-Encoding: aesgcm is supported. aes128gcm is trivial to support in this service, as it just needs to ignore the extra headers (Encryption: and Crypto-Key:) used by aesgcm, but my client-side code does not support it and this it is rejected. If your client-side code can handle it, uncomment the line referring to it.

The service could probably be made more efficient by queuing up APNs accesses and not waiting for them to finish before returning from the request handler, but this has not been implemented at the moment.


The service will read a few environment variables that let you make some adjustments.

  • P12_FILENAME: The name of the p12 file to use for the push notification certificate. Defaults to toot-relay.p12.
  • P12_BASE64: Alternative, you can include the base64-encoded data for the entire p12 file in this variable. This is useful for hosting services that let you set environment variables for secret values.
  • P12_PASSWORD: The password for the p12 file or base64 encoded data. Defaults to no password.
  • PORT: The port to listen on. Defaults to 42069.
  • CRT_FILENAME: The crt file to use for TLS connections. Defaults to toot-relay.crt.
  • KEY_FILENAME: The key file to use for TLS connections. Defaults to toot-relay.key.


The client needs to implement a user notification service extension that can decrypt the payloads once they arrive. The original payload is transmitted in the p property of the notification. The server's public key is transmitted in k, the cryptographic salt in s, and any extra value supplied in the push endpoint URL (the extra part as shown in the Usage section above) is passed in x.


The fields p, s and k are transmitted using an extended variant of z85 encoding. This encoding is the same as ZeroMQ's z85 encoding, but extended to support messages of any length, not just multiples of four bytes. It follows the spec suggested in this message, storing the last 1-3 bytes as 2-4 characters, representing an 8, 16 or 24-bit integer similarly to how normal z85 encoding represents 32-bit integers.


This code is an excerpt from the Toot! Mastodon client code base. It is the code used to set up cryptographic keys, and then to decrypt a received payload from toot-relay.

It does not include the code for actually communicating with the Mastodon instance, or for storing the receiver object that contains the cryptographic keys, but it is a good starting point for implementing your own web push handling.

Regarding HTTPS

Mastodon, and possibly others, force SSL when connecting to the push endpoint. The service does have rudimentary support; put files named toot-relay.crt and toot-relay.key in the same directory, and those will be loaded and used to serve HTTPS instead of HTTP. (Also see the "Configuration" section.)

In practice, it may be easier to use ngnix or another service to handle HTTPS traffic for you, and forward it to the service as plain HTTP.


This code is released into the public domain with no warranties. If that is not suitable, it is also available under the CC0 license.