Streamline realtime development with Channels + Beams


Using the Pusher services together takes a lot of the pain away from managing realtime infrastructure, meaning you can concentrate on rich features.


What is Pusher Channels used for?

Channels is the product that Pusher is best known for. It is a realtime PubSub data delivery mechanism that allows developers to quickly get data to their connected users. Based on WebSocket technology, and with rich, functional features, Channels lets you bypass the complex infrastructure build required (and the inevitable high costs associated) when building the realtime experiences that modern app users need.

Channels is primarily designed to handle updates in active state applications that users have open. Most commonly it is used to make realtime updates to a user interface, providing users with crucial event data at very low latency. Channels could be used to show users that a new chat message; that data in graphs has changed; that they need to make a move in a game with a friend; or that some breaking news has been announced.

The risk of missing vital updates is different when a user doesn’t have the application open though. It’s not possible to stare at a screen all the time waiting for it to change. As a developer, you need more tools to re-engage those users when they have moved on, or are focusing on something else, and need to know that something has changed.

Why add Pusher Beams?

Our second product, Beams, tackles a different part of staying connected to your customers in real time. Beams works across popular notifications gateways such as APNs and FCM to send important transactional notifications and encourage re-engagement with your application. Beams can also target web-based users with the web notifications SDK. These gateways can be notoriously tricky to master, and integrating all requirements into a smooth notification experience means you can spend a lot of time feeling that you are re-inventing the wheel.

This is made even more frustrating when breaking changes are made to the free services. When using Beams, you don’t need to worry about these nuances because that’s our job.

Beams is focused on transactional notifications, and optimises for the use case where these are important and valuable to your customers. This is emphasised in a number of key areas:

We take care of a lot of the hidden heavy lifting that can otherwise make the experience of adding push notifications tedious and complex. We question the messages for large audiences and let you know how the notifications are getting through.

Most Beams developers (62.5%) had already tried sending push notifications directly to Google and Apple’s services before they tried using our tool. Many explained to us that FCM and APNs are unnecessarily complicated to configure. They also said that it’s a pain to have to manage app credentials and device tokens as well as support a push server which scales.

There is also a good degree of delivery anxiety associated with negotiating these gateways yourself. The services currently offer no guarantees and no visibility on delivery, which is where our analytics tool comes in. With Beams Insights, you can make sure you are sending the most engaging notifications to your users by seeing an aggregate view of engagement through a helpful Google Analytics-style dashboard, and even watch users open notifications in real-time through the Beams Debug Console.

Using Channels and Beams together

Beams is a lightweight complement to the Channels experience. It also has a significant user base in its own right. Simply put, this is because it is a highly efficient solution to our users’ needs. It reflects the care and attention we put in to untangling the developer experience. Both Channels and Beams share the benefits of our ethos for API tools: we make it easy and enjoyable to add significant value for your users with great realtime features.

Today, new languages, frameworks, tools and protocols which are designed to help us simplify or enhance the development experience are released daily. Your tech stack will inevitably grow in complexity as your applications scale. The Pusher services take a lot of the pain away from managing the realtime infrastructure layer of your application, meaning you can concentrate on rich features and a truly engaging experience.

Getting started with Beams

If you are already a Channels customer, you can begin exploring Beams right away through your dashboard. There is comprehensive documentation to help you get up and running quickly, and as with Channels, it’s free to get started on our Sandbox plan.

If you need a higher message capacity, you’ll find our tiered plans based on usage. We’ve optimised pricing modelled on the active users of your system, which means that we don’t penalise you for those who just tried your application out and aren’t currently receiving notifications.

Find out more about Beams and Channels.

Want to read more? You might also be interested in checking out:
How to maximize opt-in rates for mobile push notifications
Web notifications with Pusher Beams