What is PubNub?

4 min read Darryn Campbell on Mar 4, 2024

What is PubNub? 

PubNub provides a platform that helps you build, deliver, and manage real-time capabilities for web apps, mobile apps, and IoT devices

Our customers can focus on building the features and functionality that keep users engaged because our scalable and reliable infrastructure is supported by over 15 points of presence across the globe so outages, concurrency limits, and latency issues are a thing of the past.

What is PubNub used for?

Whether you need in-app chat, live audience engagement, multi-user collaboration, or any other form of real-time functionality, PubNubAPIs, SDKs, and Solution Kits give your team the tools they need to create memorable real-time experiences for your users.

Any industry that benefits from real-time experiences can leverage PubNub for features like

  • Chat

  • Live Audience Engagement

  • Multi-User Collaboration

  • IoT Device Control

  • Real-Time Data Streaming

  • Geolocation & Dispatch

Key Features

PubNub is programming language and tech stack agnostic and gives developers the real-time technology features to create a truly unique interactive experience for users.

  • Pub/Sub Messaging

    • Send a message and it will be delivered anywhere in less than 100ms. In addition to messages, PubNub also allows users to upload and share files

    • The Storage service allows you to persist all messages as they're published so you can retrieve messages that were sent while a device was offline. 

    • Message Reactions adds metadata to messages that are already published and can be useful for delivery acknowledgments, read receipts, and emoji reactions.

  • Presence 

    • Presence gives you real time visibility into who is currently subscribed to a channel and lets you display online status indicators and audience counts.

  • Mobile Push Notifications

    • PubNub’s Mobile Push Gateway delivers messages fast and reliably using FCM and APNS regardless of whether the application is in the foreground or background on Android and iOS devices. 

  • Access Management

    • The Access Manager is a cryptographic, token-based permission administrator that allows you to regulate clients' access to PubNub resources, such as channels, channel groups, and User IDs. 

  • App Context 

    • The App Context feature provides easy-to-use, serverless storage for user metadata, channel metadata, channel memberships, and channel members without the need to use an external infrastructure. 

    • It can store custom or predefined properties like username, avatar URL, or channel name.

    • PubNub also generates events when metadata is set or deleted so your application can receive these events in real time and dynamically react to data changes within the app.

  • Functions

    • Functions enable you to make our infrastructure programmable for your needs. Use them to deploy new or additional real-time capabilities like mobile push notifications, real-time geolocation tracking, data streaming, and emoji reactions.

    • Run your code within our network or leverage our existing integrations to transform, re-route, augment, filter, and aggregate messages to detect and block spammers, measure averages, and more. All code is run at the edge for low latency and is robust enough that you don’t need to build your own infrastructure.

  • Events & Actions

    • Events & Actions (E&A) provides a way for you to centrally manage all the events that are happening in your application's ecosystem and to optionally trigger additional business logic using a listener. 

    • Once an action is triggered, you can define several actions that you want to occur, such as sending the data by using webhook architecture or a queue.

What to know about PubNub 

With over 60 patent claims granted, PubNub is the industry’s best and largest provider for deploying real-time capabilities globally offering:

Unlimited Scalability: No concurrency or channel limits.

Global Points-of-Presence (POPs): 15

Low Latency Performance: 99.999% uptime SLA and under 100 milliseconds delivery.

Customization: 50+ PubNub SDKs to power real-time applications. 

Integrations: More than 65 pre-built integrations with external and third-party APIs.

Support: 24/7 support across the globe, dedicated Solution Architect teams, a robust self-service library, and operational dashboards.

Security & Compliance: Enterprise-grade security and compliance, end-to-end encryption for every message running over the network, fine-grained access controls, localized data storage (ISO 27001 and SOC 2 Type II Compliant, GDPR, HIPAA compliant, and more). 

Getting started with PubNub

If the priority is providing the best possible user experience, it’s clear that PubNub is the most trusted infrastructure on the market to support you as you scale. 

It only takes a few steps to start using PubNub.

1. Register for an account using the Admin Portal.

Once you’re in the account, you’ll see a demo app and keyset. The keyset contains a publish key and a subscribe key which you need to include in your app.

2. Integrate PubNub into your application using one of our SDKs for mobile, web, desktop, server, and IoT environments.

Each PubNub SDK is accompanied by documentation that describes its installation, usage, and APIs. 

And because you don't have to understand the complexities of PubNub's real-time communication platform in order to use it, implementing PubNub into an application is as simple as copying and pasting. You just have to pick one or more of our many SDKs for your project and connect the network right away!

3. Once initialized, a user or device can start sending messages to a selected channel. 

Messages are sent via HTTP long polling in a JSON format and are delivered to all users and devices subscribed to that channel in less than 100ms regardless of their location in the world.

4. Customize your application’s settings.

In addition to events related to messages, PubNub also supports the distribution of other events, such as users joining and leaving channels or users changing their personal information. 

All of these events can be captured and processed with your own serverless code or by leveraging third-party integrations to transform, re-route, augment, filter, and even aggregate data. This can be done via either Functions or Events & Actions.

5. Explore the Access Manager.

PubNub offers an Access Manager that allows you to create and enforce secure access to channels, channel groups, and other PubNub resources throughout the platform. Applications built with Access Manager use tokens with individual permissions for each authorized user of the application.

You can also check out this list of essential resources to seamlessly get your app up and running with PubNub:

  • PubNub Tour: Learn the basics of PubNub by following our interactive introduction tour. 

  • PubNub Docs: Explore detailed documentation, examples, and explanations for each of our SDKs.

  • How-Tos: Understand the key concepts of building applications with or architecting on the PubNub platform.

  • Tutorials: Follow these step-by-step tutorials for building real-time applications using PubNub.

  • Developer Paths: Discover how to quickly and easily build your real-time apps using our developer resources for success.

  • Demos: View our demos and sample code of applications in action.