Quick start

Here are a few examples to get you started quickly with websockets.

Hello world!

Here’s a WebSocket server.

It receives a name from the client, sends a greeting, and closes the connection.

#!/usr/bin/env python

import asyncio
import websockets

async def hello(websocket):
    name = await websocket.recv()
    print(f"<<< {name}")

    greeting = f"Hello {name}!"

    await websocket.send(greeting)
    print(f">>> {greeting}")

async def main():
    async with websockets.serve(hello, "localhost", 8765):
        await asyncio.Future()  # run forever

if __name__ == "__main__":
    asyncio.run(main())

serve() executes the connection handler coroutine hello() once for each WebSocket connection. It closes the WebSocket connection when the handler returns.

Here’s a corresponding WebSocket client.

It sends a name to the server, receives a greeting, and closes the connection.

#!/usr/bin/env python

import asyncio
import websockets

async def hello():
    uri = "ws://localhost:8765"
    async with websockets.connect(uri) as websocket:
        name = input("What's your name? ")

        await websocket.send(name)
        print(f">>> {name}")

        greeting = await websocket.recv()
        print(f"<<< {greeting}")

if __name__ == "__main__":
    asyncio.run(hello())

Using connect() as an asynchronous context manager ensures the WebSocket connection is closed.

Encryption

Secure WebSocket connections improve confidentiality and also reliability because they reduce the risk of interference by bad proxies.

The wss protocol is to ws what https is to http. The connection is encrypted with TLS (Transport Layer Security). wss requires certificates like https.

TLS vs. SSL

TLS is sometimes referred to as SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). SSL was an earlier encryption protocol; the name stuck.

Here’s how to adapt the server to encrypt connections. See the documentation of the ssl module for configuring the context securely.

#!/usr/bin/env python

import asyncio
import pathlib
import ssl
import websockets

async def hello(websocket):
    name = await websocket.recv()
    print(f"<<< {name}")

    greeting = f"Hello {name}!"

    await websocket.send(greeting)
    print(f">>> {greeting}")

ssl_context = ssl.SSLContext(ssl.PROTOCOL_TLS_SERVER)
localhost_pem = pathlib.Path(__file__).with_name("localhost.pem")
ssl_context.load_cert_chain(localhost_pem)

async def main():
    async with websockets.serve(hello, "localhost", 8765, ssl=ssl_context):
        await asyncio.Future()  # run forever

if __name__ == "__main__":
    asyncio.run(main())

Here’s how to adapt the client similarly.

#!/usr/bin/env python

import asyncio
import pathlib
import ssl
import websockets

ssl_context = ssl.SSLContext(ssl.PROTOCOL_TLS_CLIENT)
localhost_pem = pathlib.Path(__file__).with_name("localhost.pem")
ssl_context.load_verify_locations(localhost_pem)

async def hello():
    uri = "wss://localhost:8765"
    async with websockets.connect(uri, ssl=ssl_context) as websocket:
        name = input("What's your name? ")

        await websocket.send(name)
        print(f">>> {name}")

        greeting = await websocket.recv()
        print(f"<<< {greeting}")

if __name__ == "__main__":
    asyncio.run(hello())

This client needs a context because the server uses a self-signed certificate.

When connecting to a secure WebSocket server with a valid certificate — any certificate signed by a CA that your Python installation trusts — you can simply pass ssl=True to connect().

In a browser

The WebSocket protocol was invented for the web — as the name says!

Here’s how to connect to a WebSocket server in a browser.

Run this script in a console:

#!/usr/bin/env python

import asyncio
import datetime
import random
import websockets

async def show_time(websocket):
    while websocket.open:
        await websocket.send(datetime.datetime.utcnow().isoformat() + "Z")
        await asyncio.sleep(random.random() * 2 + 1)

async def main():
    async with websockets.serve(show_time, "localhost", 5678):
        await asyncio.Future()  # run forever

if __name__ == "__main__":
    asyncio.run(main())

Save this file as show_time.html:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
    <head>
        <title>WebSocket demo</title>
    </head>
    <body>
        <script src="show_time.js"></script>
    </body>
</html>

Save this file as show_time.js:

window.addEventListener("DOMContentLoaded", () => {
  const messages = document.createElement("ul");
  document.body.appendChild(messages);

  const websocket = new WebSocket("ws://localhost:5678/");
  websocket.onmessage = ({ data }) => {
    const message = document.createElement("li");
    const content = document.createTextNode(data);
    message.appendChild(content);
    messages.appendChild(message);
  };
});

Then open show_time.html in a browser and see the clock tick irregularly.

Broadcast

A WebSocket server can receive events from clients, process them to update the application state, and broadcast the updated state to all connected clients.

Here’s an example where any client can increment or decrement a counter. The concurrency model of asyncio guarantees that updates are serialized.

Run this script in a console:

#!/usr/bin/env python

import asyncio
import json
import logging
import websockets

logging.basicConfig()

USERS = set()

VALUE = 0

def users_event():
    return json.dumps({"type": "users", "count": len(USERS)})

def value_event():
    return json.dumps({"type": "value", "value": VALUE})

async def counter(websocket):
    global USERS, VALUE
    try:
        # Register user
        USERS.add(websocket)
        websockets.broadcast(USERS, users_event())
        # Send current state to user
        await websocket.send(value_event())
        # Manage state changes
        async for message in websocket:
            event = json.loads(message)
            if event["action"] == "minus":
                VALUE -= 1
                websockets.broadcast(USERS, value_event())
            elif event["action"] == "plus":
                VALUE += 1
                websockets.broadcast(USERS, value_event())
            else:
                logging.error("unsupported event: %s", event)
    finally:
        # Unregister user
        USERS.remove(websocket)
        websockets.broadcast(USERS, users_event())

async def main():
    async with websockets.serve(counter, "localhost", 6789):
        await asyncio.Future()  # run forever

if __name__ == "__main__":
    asyncio.run(main())

Save this file as counter.html:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
    <head>
        <title>WebSocket demo</title>
        <link href="counter.css" rel="stylesheet">
    </head>
    <body>
        <div class="buttons">
            <div class="minus button">-</div>
            <div class="value">?</div>
            <div class="plus button">+</div>
        </div>
        <div class="state">
            <span class="users">?</span> online
        </div>
        <script src="counter.js"></script>
    </body>
</html>

Save this file as counter.css:

body {
    font-family: "Courier New", sans-serif;
    text-align: center;
}
.buttons {
    font-size: 4em;
    display: flex;
    justify-content: center;
}
.button, .value {
    line-height: 1;
    padding: 2rem;
    margin: 2rem;
    border: medium solid;
    min-height: 1em;
    min-width: 1em;
}
.button {
    cursor: pointer;
    user-select: none;
}
.minus {
    color: red;
}
.plus {
    color: green;
}
.value {
    min-width: 2em;
}
.state {
    font-size: 2em;
}

Save this file as counter.js:

window.addEventListener("DOMContentLoaded", () => {
  const websocket = new WebSocket("ws://localhost:6789/");

  document.querySelector(".minus").addEventListener("click", () => {
    websocket.send(JSON.stringify({ action: "minus" }));
  });

  document.querySelector(".plus").addEventListener("click", () => {
    websocket.send(JSON.stringify({ action: "plus" }));
  });

  websocket.onmessage = ({ data }) => {
    const event = JSON.parse(data);
    switch (event.type) {
      case "value":
        document.querySelector(".value").textContent = event.value;
        break;
      case "users":
        const users = `${event.count} user${event.count == 1 ? "" : "s"}`;
        document.querySelector(".users").textContent = users;
        break;
      default:
        console.error("unsupported event", event);
    }
  };
});

Then open counter.html file in several browsers and play with [+] and [-].