React and Server Sent Events

React and Server Sent Events

React is an open-source javascript framework for creating user interfaces. At Superfeedr, we already use it for a bunch of internal tools and projects to be released. A couple of months ago, we also released Reader News which is a river of news style feed reader. For this example, we subscribed to the blogs of several feed readers.

Today, we decided to revisit this simple application and add some realtimeness to it so that the interface auto-updates when new feed items are added. For this, we’ll use Superfeedr’s Server Sent Event interface.

Currently, this React application uses Superfeedr’s Jquery plugin to fetch the data upon page load. We need to chage this has Jquery’s $ajax call does not support Server Sent Event. Also, Server Sent Event’s API is actually very simple: we don’t need to use syntactic sugar.

Let’s create a function which connects to the EventSource endpoint12:

function loadContent() {
    var that = this;
    var url = "";
    var query = {
      'count': 5,
      'hub.mode': 'retrieve',
      'authorization': btoa([this.state.login, this.state.token].join(':')),
      'hub.callback': ''
    url = [url, serialize(query)].join('?');

We build the Superfeedr URL with the right query string:

  • Using the retrieve mode,
  • for 5 elements
  • with the right authorization (base64 encoded)
  • for subscriptions to

    var source = new EventSource(url);
    source.addEventListener("notification", function(e) {
      var notification = JSON.parse(;
      notification.items.forEach(function(item) {
          item.source = {
            title: notification.title,
            permalinkUrl: notification.permalinkUrl
            stories: that.state.stories

For each notification, we make sure we have the right source information, and we use React’s setState to change the state and re-render the components.

As you can see, this is all fairly simple and straightforward!

  1. We use btoa to create a base64 encoding string with the credentials. It’s only partially supported by older browsers. 

  2. the serialize function takes an object and turns it into a query string. 

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On the same topic, check server sent events, readers news and top feeds list.

Previously, on the Superfeedr blog: We love HTTP Basic.