Phoenix’ Channels

An article, posted more than 7 years ago filed in coherence, elixer, erlang, vm, authentication, Phoenix, framework, fast, messaging, rails, ActionCable & websockets.
Phoenix’ Channels

I started exploring Phoenix for one thing only: Channels (or actually fast real time communication over websockets). In this post I explore how to use them (yes this is a follow up of My first Phoenix-app-post).

Preparing for the authentication problem

Websockets don’t pass session cookies. Because we don't have access to these we need to transfer the user's identity in a different way. One of the recommendations I found was passing a user_token using a ``-tag (adjusting templates/layout/app.html.eex):

We can access this with a simple query selector in javascript:


But that’s for later. Let’s move to the server side, since we need something to connect to, a Socket.


In our default project there is alrea…

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My first Phoenix app

An article, posted more than 7 years ago filed in coherence, elixer, erlang, vm, authentication, Phoenix, framework, fast, messaging & rails.

Some time ago I actually initiated my very first Phoenix app, but was a bit disappointed by the lack of a rich box of gems (like that of ruby's) and/or I didn't have the time to invest heavily in researching all the possibilities. One of my new year resolution was to actively pursue more knowledge, hence I'm giving it a second shot.

Why Phoenix?

I'm a full-stack Rails developer, but I needed real time messaging. That is not something Rails is typically good at (although it works), but Elixir (with its Erlang base) is well known for, even in the ruby community. Phoenix wraps Elixir in a nice Rails-like package ready for web and API development.


  • Authentication
  • Broadcasting filtered messages based on tags
  • Writing messages


  1. Install Elixir (macOS & homebrew: brew install elixir) and make sure you have [node.js](https://nodejs.or…

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Lost identity: Facebook's Instant Articles

An article, posted about 8 years ago filed in facebook, guardian, fast, loading, web, design, instant, identity & article.

Admittedly, I was a sceptic from the start when Facebook announced its instant articles with its promise to deliver blazingly fast loading articles. The technology would be ideal for publishers who'd want to deliver the best experience to their end users on Facebook. I wondered: why couldn't publishers simply remove all third party clutter and make their own sites blazingly fast? But that is not what I want to discuss here. The Guardian was one of the first news papers to implement the new Facebook Instant Article technology. The thing that disturbs me is that the blazingly fast speed comes at a price: loss of identity.

In recent years the web has become more and more a place where design can thrive. HTML5, CSS3, web fonts… the possibilities are endless these days. Designs of the web outlets of major publishers are on par with their traditional paper-based designs. Which makes that even details in the article's mark-up …

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Hacking versus doing things ‘correctly’

An article, posted almost 14 years ago filed in programming, hacking, agile, fast, quick, dirty, release, development, bazaar & cathedral.

Although in mainstream media hacking is considered as something bad, something criminals would do, hacking has really nothing to do with bad things. Hacking in software is about building a bazaar instead of building a cathedral (Raymond, 1999). Hacking is central to the idea of agile programming and the free software movement. While building a cathedral is about planning things properly, the bazaar way is the shacky way of hacking things together. Being able to build something cheaply, quickly. The it-just-works approach. Others counter this notion of hacking it together as something being unstable. In the long run, they argue, hacking will be more expensive. But think about it… how often have you worked on something great, something really complex, something you’ve tried to release perfectly, and a) how often have you succeeded in actually releasing something and b) how much better has it become through this careful process of discussing, planning and crafting - doing it the right …

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