3 min read
on Mar 10, 2014
Lightweight, blazing fast and packed with features, check out how messaging app ThumbChat uses PubNub for all real-time communication in their app

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ThumbChat is a mobile iOS and Android messaging applicationThumbChat is a mobile iOS and Android messaging application. In addition to its core real-time chat, the app offers several engaging features to enhance the chat experience like animated emojis and stickers. It also offers mobile friendly features including the ability to share a user’s location or contact instantly and send audio notes, pictures and video. Lastly, ThumbChat works internationally, all entirely free.

Build vs. Buy: Data Stream Network

A lightweight mobile messaging application requires a real-time backend messaging infrastructure for sending and receiving messages between users. The ThumbChat team first had to decide whether to build out a data stream network on their own, or use a real-time service provider.

Build a data stream network or use a real-time service provider

Looking to build a lightweight mobile messaging app, the ThumbChat team looked into a wide variety of different solutions, both open source (including building their own XMPP platform) and several off-the-shelf from data stream network service providers.

“Creating your own XMPP platform requires a lot more resources both in terms of development and financial resources. We wanted to get up and running in a time efficient manner,” said Greig Carlson, ThumbChat founder and CEO.

Understanding that building and scaling a custom solution built inhouse requires a heavy time commitment, and to ensure speed, reliability, and ease of implementation, the ThumbChat team decided to go with PubNub for their real-time messaging backend infrastructure

“For speed and ease of use and getting up and running and cost efficiency we decided to go with PubNub.”


Implementation was fast and seamless, and took under a month for the team to have the PubNub Data Stream Network up and running. Because implementation was easy and quick, the ThumbChat team could spend more time on their application, rather than dealing with developing and orchestrating a data stream network.

“The PubNub piece of the app saved us significant time so we could focus on other parts of the app.”

PubNub Data Stream

ThumbChat uses PubNub Data Stream for all messaging in their appThumbChat uses the PubNub Data Stream feature for all messaging in their app, including real-time messaging and sending emojis. Data Stream enables both unicast (1v1 messaging) and broadcast (group messaging) functionality. This allows the ThumbChat app to send messages between users in under a ¼ second, creating a real-time chat experience.

“We have to transfer as little data as possible to get the messages back and forth as quickly as possible.”

“ThumbChat is fast, reliable, and built for the mobile user. We researched all the top messaging applications out there and we took the best features from all of them and combined them into one seamless experience. It’s group chat and 1v1 chat. And PubNub makes it all possible.”

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