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JavaScript interface

DriftDB provides a vanilla JavaScript API. This provides the underlying interface that we use for DriftDB-React, but it can also be used directly by applications.

The JavaScript API provides a low-level subscription interface, which calls a provided callback every time a message is received on a particular key. It also provides some higher-level data synchronization patterns.

The same application may use both the low-level and high-level interfaces, although generally you should not use both a high-level interface and low-level subscription on the same key.

Before using the low-level API, we recommend reading the data model documentation.


Install DriftDB using npm:

npm i driftdb

To get started with DriftDB-React, you will need the URL of a running DriftDB server. Either follow the instructions to run a server of your own, or sign up at for a free hosted instance.


Import the DbConnection and Api classes, as needed:

import { DbConnection } from 'driftdb'
import { Api } from "driftdb/dist/api"

Obtaining a room

Every connection to a DriftDB server is scoped to a particular room, as described in the data model documentation.

The DriftDB server provides a way of creating a room, which is wrapped in the Api class. The Api class must first be constructed by providing the URL of a DriftDB server, like so:

const api = new Api('[YOUR_KEY]')

To create a new room, call api.newRoom():

const room = await api.newRoom()

The value of room will be a JavaScript object like this:

room: "8hX8d0Q7bTWf2sKKr9c4Qmcj",
http_url: "",
socket_url: "wss://"
  • room is a unique ID for the room. It is the value that should be shared with other clients to connect them to the same room.
  • http_url is an endpoint for sending one-off messages to the room without establishing a connection. It is not used by the JavaScript client API, but is useful in environments where a WebSocket client is not available but an HTTP client is.
  • socket_url is a WebSocket URL for connecting to the database. This is the value you need to connect via a DbConnection (see below).

You can send the value of room to another client so that that client can connect to the same room. That client can then use api.getRoom() to obtain the same object returned by newRoom() on the original client:

const room = await api.getRoom('8hX8d0Q7bTWf2sKKr9c4Qmcj')
const socketUrl = room['socket_url']

To place multiple clients in the same room, you will need a way to share the room ID with all of them. One way to do this is to embed the room ID in the URL. The React client has a simple implementation of this that may provide inspiration.

Connecting to a room

To connect to a database, first construct a DbConnection:

const conn = new DbConnection()

Then, pass the WebSocket URL of a DriftDB instance (the socket_url field of an object returned by newRoom or getRoom above) into the DbConnection via connect():


Connection happens in the background. You can test whether a DbConnection is connected by checking conn.status.connected, which is true when a connection has been established. A DbConnection will automatically reconnect if it is disconnected, and will queue up messages to send to the server while offline.


Data is accessed in DriftDB via subscriptions. A subscription is created by providing a key (string) and a callback function. The callback will be called for every message in the stream associated with the given key.

When a subscription is first created, the client retrieves all of the messages the server has retained on that stream and calls the callback on each of them. Then, as new messages arrive, the client calls the callback on each. The callback is always called on messages in the order they appear in the stream.

To create a subscription:

conn.subscribe("my-key", (d) => console.log('received on my-key', d))


To send messages, use conn.send:

type: "push", // send a message.
action: {type: "append"}, // append retains the message in the stream
// see /data-model for actions
value: "my-value", // any JSON-serializable value is allowed here
key: "my-key"

Every other client in the same room that has installed a callback for my-key will run that callback on the value my-value. Since the action is append, the message will be appended to the server’s retained stream for my-key, so even clients that connect later will receive the message.

Combined with the example subscription above, the message would result in every client logging the following to the console:

received on my-key: my-value

Higher-level state patterns

The JavaScript library provides a number of higher-level state sharing patterns:

  • PresenceListener as a basis for ephemeral shared presence messages (e.g. cursor position, avatar stacks)
  • Reducer for state machine synchronization with compaction
  • StateListener for a shared value with client-side throttling

These are not yet documented, but the DriftDB-React code provides example usage of each.