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Ably vs Rails ActionCable

Discover how Rails ActionCable compares to Ably, and understand which is right for your use case, based on dimensions such as core features, pricing, reliability, and scalability.

What is Ably?

Ably is a realtime experience platform that provides APIs and SDKs to power realtime functionality - with no realtime infrastructure to build and maintain. Our application building blocks and integrations enable developers to quickly create live experiences from live chat and data broadcast, to collaborative UXs and notifications.


What is Rails ActionCable?

Rails Action Cable is a framework built into Ruby on Rails that integrates WebSockets for real-time communication, allowing developers to create interactive applications.

Compare Ably and Rails ActionCable

Let’s compare Ably and Rails ActionCable, looking at key dimensions such as their core features, pricing, integrations, QoS, performance, and security and compliance.

Disclaimer:This comparison was created based on documentation and resources freely available online about Ably and Rails ActionCable. The content was last updated on 10 Jun 2024 for Ably and on 10 Jul 2024 for Rails ActionCable. Be sure to double-check everything before you make any decisions. If you do find anything incorrect or out of date, then please contact us.

Core features
Pub/Sub messaging

Reduces communication code complexity, simplifying the process of building highly functional and architecturally complex realtime apps.

Ably

Yes

Ably provides robust pub/sub messaging capabilities over serverless WebSockets.

Rails ActionCable

Partial

Supports basic pub/sub via channels.

Chat capabilities

Accelerates the time to implement rich chat experiences with features such as read receipts, typing indicators, and more.

Ably

Partial

It's possible to use Ably Pub/Sub to build chat applications today, as many customers do. A new product to make this seamless, idiomatic and help accelerate time-to-market is under active development.

Rails ActionCable

Partial

Rails ActionCable does not have an out-of-the box chat solution, but provides the building blocks for a basic chat implementation.

Read more
Collaboration capabilities

Enables you to quickly integrate realtime collaborative features like live cursors, member location, avatar stacks, and component locking.

Ably

Yes

The Spaces SDK provides an opinionated set of abstractions for collaborative environments including live cursors, avatar stacks and component locking.

Learn more
Rails ActionCable

Partial

Rails ActionCable provides basic support, but lacks advanced features like live cursors or component locking.

State sync capabilities

Enables realtime data synchronization across devices and users, ensuring a cohesive and up-to-date user experience.

Ably

Yes

Ably provides a self-hostable and managed database connector to stream updates over our serverless WebSocket platform. Ably also provides the Models SDK for seamless connector interactions.

Learn more
Rails ActionCable

Partial

Rails ActionCable offers basic state sync capabilities, but it does not offer advanced tools to ensure continued synchronization between clients and devices.

Presence

Maintaining a view of which users are connected, and their associated metadata, enables their online status to be updated in realtime.

Ably

Yes

Rails ActionCable

Partial

Rails ActionCable doesn't offer presence out of the box, but can support presence when custom built on a user appearance channel.

Read more
Occupancy

High-level metrics about the clients currently connected to a channel make it simple to show things such as connected user count, or display which channels are the most popular.

Ably

Yes

Rails ActionCable

No

Message interactions

Enables interaction with previously-sent messages, facilitating the implementation of features like message reactions and threads.

Ably

Partial

Message interactions are natively supported in ably-js. There is not currently any API support for retrieving messages and their interactions efficiently from the Realtime service (under development).

Learn more
Rails ActionCable

Partial

Rails ActionCable supports basic message interactions like broadcasting but advanced features like reactions require custom code.

Message history

Enables clients to catch up on missed messages when inactive, ensuring a user doesn’t miss any important messages.

Ably

Yes

Rails ActionCable

No

Push notifications

Cross-platform push notifications make it possible to deliver important and timely messages to users even when they’re inactive.

Ably

Yes

Support for Android and iOS push notifications. Improved web-push for browsers currently in progress.

Rails ActionCable

No

Message delta compression

Minimizes bandwidth and can reduce latency, particularly in scenarios where continuous updates are sent.

Ably

Yes

Broadcast changes efficiently with our binary deltas, reducing bandwidth consumption by typically up to 95%.

Rails ActionCable

No

Programmatic management

Enables the automation of provisioning, management, and testing of service resources, simplifying integration with existing development workflows such as CI.

Ably

Yes

Rails ActionCable

Yes

Rails ActionCable can be managed through Rails.

Pricing
Free plan

With a free plan, you can test the service’s functionality and compatibility with your project before committing to a paid plan.

Ably

Yes

Rails ActionCable

Yes

The Rails framework, including Rails ActionCable, is completely free and open-source.

Pricing model

The pricing model should align with your project's expected load, usage patterns, and budget in order to be cost-effective and efficient.

Ably
  • Free tier
  • Pay as you go
  • Enterprise with committed use
Learn more
Rails ActionCable

Completely free, no paid plans.

Integrations & interoperability
SDKs

Supporting multiple languages and platforms offers greater flexibility when building cross-platform realtime apps.

Ably
  • Java
  • Javascript (browsers)
  • React Native
  • React Hooks
  • Android
  • Clojure
  • Cordova / Phonegap
  • Flutter
  • Go
  • iOS Objective-C
  • iOS Swift
  • Kotlin
  • Laravel (PHP)
  • MacOS
  • Mono
  • NativeScript
  • .NET
  • Node.js
  • PHP (REST only)
  • Scala
  • Python
  • Ruby (REST only)
  • tvOS
  • Unity
  • Xamarin + Xamarin.forms
Rails ActionCable
  • Ruby
  • JavaScript
Supported realtime protocols

Support for multiple protocols provides the flexibility to choose a protocol that best suits your project’s requirements.

Ably
  • WebSockets
  • MQTT
  • Server-Sent Events (SSE)
  • Fallback to Comet (XHR) and Long Polling for older browsers
Rails ActionCable
  • WebSockets
Serverless functions

Enables integration with third-party cloud providers by facilitating the execution of custom code against messages to perform business logic like on-the-fly translation.

Ably
  • AWS Lambda
  • Microsoft Azure Functions
  • Cloudflare Workers
  • Google Cloud Functions
Rails ActionCable

None.

Streaming & queueing

Provides a dependable method to reroute messages from the service to third-party streams and queues for further processing.

Ably

Egress:

  • Kafka
  • Kinesis
  • AMQP
  • SQS
  • Pulsar
  • Ably-hosted queues

Ingress:

  • Kafka Connector
  • Postgress (via Database Connector)

The Database Connector is designed for any database in the SQL-family, but at the moment only supports Postgres. Please contact us if you want support in other databases.

Rails ActionCable

No

Observability services

Enables realtime monitoring and troubleshooting by offering insights into service behavior directly in your observability platform of choice.

Ably

Yes

Rails ActionCable

No

CI/CD tools

Makes it possible to provision and configure service infrastructure as part of a CI or CD pipeline, enabling repeatable and reliable deployments.

Ably
  • Terraform
  • Control API + SDKs
Rails ActionCable

No

Quality of Service
Scalability

Scalability is vital as it ensures the service can handle increased data load or users without compromising performance.

Ably
  • Ably provides unlimited throughput capacity at a system-level.
  • Advertised as 200 message/sec/channel or 13MiB/sec/channel.
  • Limitless "channel churn rate" (activate/ deactivate as many channels as you need, as fast as you need. In theory, you can activate 1M channels/ second.
Rails ActionCable

No metrics available.

Guaranteed message delivery

Ensures messages are never lost during transmission, even in the presence of network disruptions.

Ably

Yes

Rails ActionCable

No

Guaranteed message ordering

Maintains the sequence of messages as they were sent. This is particularly important in apps where the chronological order of messages is essential for meaningful communication.

Ably

Yes

Rails ActionCable

No

Exactly-once message delivery

Guarantees that each message is processed exactly once, preventing data inconsistencies that can arise from duplicate processing or missing messages.

Ably

Yes

Rails ActionCable

No

Performance & availability
Uptime Guarantee

An uptime guarantee instills confidence in the reliability of the service and protects your business from the negative impacts of downtime.

Ably

99.999%

Rails ActionCable

No uptime SLA.

Global edge network

By bringing servers (Points of Presence, or PoP) geographically closer to the devices of end users, and routing requests to the nearest PoP, global latency is reduced to a minimum.

Ably

Yes

All Ably customer data runs across all our 7 geographically-distributed core routing datacenters by default. Ably's network of 385 edge acceleration points-of-presence is growing day by day.

Rails ActionCable

No

Multi-region data replication (message durability)

By replicating data across multiple regions, the risk of data loss or downtime is greatly mitigated since if data is lost or a server fails in one region, the information can be retrieved from another.

Ably

Yes

Rails ActionCable

No

No single point of failure or congestion

Having no single point of failure means a system is resilient and can continue to operate even if one part fails. Avoiding a single point of congestion ensures messages flow efficiently across the system and avoids bottlenecks that could lead to performance issues under load.

Ably

Yes

Rails ActionCable

No

Latency

Low latency is crucial for realtime apps as it ensures swift and efficient data transmissions, providing a smoother and more responsive user experience.

Ably

<50ms round trip latency for the 99th percentile; <35ms latency once traffic arrives within AWS

Rails ActionCable

Unknown.

Security & compliance
API key authentication

Simplifies the authentication code on trusted servers compared to requesting, managing, and refreshing tokens.

Ably

Yes

Rails ActionCable

No

Token-based authentication

Provides a means to securely authenticate user devices against your user management system.

Ably

Yes

Rails ActionCable

No

Single Sign-On (SSO) authentication

SSO streamlines login processes, boosts security by minimizing password use, and meets compliance needs for secure data access management.

Ably

Yes

Rails ActionCable

No

Rules for permissions and operations

Provides control over which users can subscribe and publish to certain channels.

Ably

Yes

Rails ActionCable

Yes

End-to-end encryption

Ensures that the data transmitted between the client and the API server remains confidential and secure while in transit.

Ably

Yes

Ably offers SSL/TLS encryption and 256-bit AES encryption using private keys. Message payloads can only be decrypted by other clients that share your secret key.

Learn more about Ably's encryption
Rails ActionCable

No

Encryption at rest

Ensures data stored by the service is secure and compliant, while also mitigating the risks of a data breach.

Ably

Yes

Rails ActionCable

No

Compliance

Compliance with regulations can impact your ability to meet legal obligations in your industry.

Ably
  • SOC 2 certified
  • HIPAA compliant
  • EU GDPR compliant

Ably also offers EU and US-only data storage.

Rails ActionCable

None.

AblyHear from companies gaining their realtime advantage with Ably

The core infrastructure for delivering live sports data to our customers is Ably. We sleep easier at night knowing it can be relied on for consistent low latency and message integrity at scale.

Gary Williams

Gary Williams

IT Infrastructure Team Lead

Genius Sports
Read case study

Ably immediately solved our issues around the user experience and scale. It supports our customers’ stringent expectations as well as future product development.

Max Freiert

Max Freiert

Product Group Lead

Hubspot
Read case study

Ably copes easily with big loads. We don’t have to worry about stability, even when we get huge traffic spikes.

Johan Bengtsson

Johan Bengtsson

CTO

Mentimeter
Read case study

Try Ably for free to discover the benefits for yourself

Ably has built reliable realtime infrastructure so you don’t have to. On our free plan you benefit from:

  • 6M Monthly messages
  • 200 concurrent channels
  • 200 concurrent connections