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Minimalist HTTP long-polling server and javascript client library.
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bin simple-comet => simplet_comet Nov 12, 2010
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A simple COMET server

This is a minimalist HTTP long-polling server.

With intentionally no support for Websockets nor Bayeux.

But the compressed client-side Javascript library weights less than 500 bytes, with support for multiple channels and cross-domain requests.

It should work just fine on most web browsers, including legacy ones and mobile browsers.


The server requires Python >= 2.5 and the Twisted framework.

It can be installed the boring way:

git clone git://
cd Simple-Comet-Server
sudo python install    

Using simple_comet as a backend for a frontend server like Nginx is highly recommended.

Server switches


--http-port=<HTTP server port> (default=none)

Change the HTTP port the server will listen to. Tests assume port 4080.

--unix-socket-path=<path to UNIX socket) (default=none)

In addition or in place of a TCP port, listen to a local UNIX socket.

--http-timeout=<HTTP timeout in seconds> (default=30)

Drop inactive connections after this many seconds.

--session-timeout=<session timeout in seconds> (default=60)

Clear sessions after this many seconds.

--inactive-channel-timeout=<inactive channel timeout> (default=90)

Remove channels with no clients after this many seconds.

--messages-per-channel=<default max messages per channel> (default=100)

The default number of messages to keep in every channel. When the queue is full, the oldest message will get dropped in order to make space for new messages.


Encapsulate JSON responses with /*-secure- ... */ comments.


Enable /stats.json in order to monitor activity.


For every resource, a .json suffix returns the result as a JSON-serialized object, while a .jsonp suffix returns a reply suitable for a JSON-P request.

The default callback for JSON-P requests is _JSONP_comet_cb(). It can be changed through the value of a cb variable added to the query string, but the name must start with _JSONP_.

  • Registering a channel

Your server-side application should probably handle this, not the client.

Method: POST
URI: http://$HOST:$PORT/channels.json
channel_id=(name of the new channel)
use_sessions=1: only registered clients can join the channel
max_messages=(non-default number of retained messages)
  • Pushing data to a channel

Store a new message and forward it to subscribers.

Method: POST
URI: http://$HOST:$PORT/channels/(channel name).json
content=(message content)
  • Registering a client

Your server-side application should probably handle this, not the client. Registered clients can join non-anonymous channels. Registering a client is not required in order to subscribe to anonymous channels.

Method: POST
URI: http://$HOST:$PORT/clients.json
client_id=(unique client identifier)
  • Monitoring the server

Only available if --enable-status has been enabled.

Method: GET
URI: http://$HOST:$PORT/status.json
  • Reading data from channels

This should be sent by your server-side application.

Method: GET
URI: http://$HOST:$PORT/channels/(channels list).json
Query string:
client_id=(client identifier): only required for non-anonymous channels
since=(identifier of the last read frame)

Multiple channels can be subscribed to, and anonymous and non-anonymous channels can be mixed. Just use a pipe (%7C) as a delimiter.

The reply looks like:

{ "since": 0,
  "messages": {
    "channelA": [
      { "content": "message1",
        "id": 128916015846785,
        "ts": 1289160231
    "channelB": [
      { "content": "message1",
        "id": 128916015846787,
        "ts": 1289160237
      { "content": "message2",
        "id": 128916015846786,
        "ts": 1289160235
  "return_code": 1,
  "error_message": "",
  "last_id": 128916015846785

last_id is the identifier of the last frame. The following request should include it as the value for since. The first request may omit this or use 0.

Javascript API

The Javascript library (client/simple-comet.js) is designed to query a single server, through JSON-P.

Subscribing to channels:

SimpleComet.subscribe(url, callback, client_id)

client_id is only required in order to subscribe to non-anonymous channels.

The callback function will be called every time a watched channel will be updated.

Starting the engine:


You usually want to call this function when the DOM is ready. Calls to SimpleComet.subscribe() can be made after or before this one.

Using Nginx and local sockets

Nginx can proxy to local UNIX sockets. If Nginx and the Comet server are hosted on the same server, this is the recommended way to make them play well.

Start the Comet server with something like:

simple-comet --enable-status --unix-socket=/var/tmp/comet.sock

And define an Nginx virtual host like:

server {
  listen 80;
  root /var/empty/;

  location / {
    return 404;
  location /subscribe/ {
    add_header Access-Control-Allow-Origin "*";
    add_header Access-Control-Allow-Methods "GET, OPTIONS";
    add_header Access-Control-Allow-Headers "X-Requested-With,Accept,If-Modified-Since,ETag";
    add_header Access-Control-Max-Age "1728000";
    proxy_pass http://unix:/var/tmp/comet.sock:/channels/;

add_headers are for CORS (cross-domain without JSON-P) requests. You don't need these if you only intend to use the provided Javascript library.

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