Real-time Technology Glossary

An ever-growing repository of technical terms around real-time technology and beyond.

Firehose API

The firehose API is a steady stream of all available data from a source in real time –  a giant spigot that delivers data to any number of subscribers at a time. The stream is constant, delivering new, updated data as it happens.

The amount of data in the firehose can vary with spikes and lows, but nonetheless, the data continues to flow through the firehose to any number of recipients. Once received, that data can be visualized, published, graphed; really anything you want to do with it, all in real time.

Real World Firehose API Examples

The most well known firehose API is the Twitter firehose, an API that delivers 100% of tweets to end users in real time. At an average of 5,700 tweets per second, the Twitter firehose represents the massive volume of data that can stream over a data firehose.

The Twitter firehose in its entirety has only been granted access to a few companies (GNIP and DataSift to name two). However, Twitter also has a Streaming API that streams a sample of all existing tweets, which is still substantial based on the massive scale of Twitter users.

Other than Twitter, there are thousands of other use cases for the data firehose. Pretty much any source of data can be turned into a stream, including:

  • Weather and temperature data

  • Stock quote prices

  • Public transportation time and location data

  • RSS and blog feeds

  • Multiplayer game player position and state

  • Internet of Things sensor network data

Syndicating Streams

The ability to syndicate a data firehose is just as powerful is streaming it. This involves splitting the main data firehose into smaller hoses, each with individual subscribers. Subscribers can specify, or developers can control who receives what streams, at any time.

Firehose API in Action: Real-time Data Streams

In addition to our how-to on building your own real-time data streaming application, we also have a demo that shows how to consume a firehose API. Some of the demo streams use real data from Twitter and Wikipedia, and a couple use simulated data.

You might also like

How to develop a real-time streaming application

How to develop a real-time streaming application

Learn how to develop your own real-time streaming application using a Firehose API

How to build a real-time streaming application
Real-Time streaming demo

Real-Time streaming demo

PubNub makes it easy to connect and consume massive real time streaming data and deliver usable information to any number of subscribers.

Real-time streaming demo using PubNub

Ready To Get Started?

Contact Sales