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Client authentication and messaging backplane service API.

The state of the art in realtime, and particularly in peer to peer, is that even with the best shims easy jobs never are. "Room"-based libraries make lovely tutorials and demos but the leap from these barely-functional user experiences to a usable, scalable social application is too complex for anyone but the top competitive voip companies to manage.

The goal of substation is to bridge that gap by reversing signal flow. A user logged in to your application no longer has to ask to be reachable, they are reachable by identity as soon as their connection becomes active. Connection multiplicity is embraced by shipping events to groups of related useragents (usually multiple tabs). Robust WebRTC peer "Links" are provided that automatically connect and reconnect new connections to the Link as long as both peers maintain at least one connection to the server.

Whether your application is a game server, a social application, a collaborative editing tool, a telecom service or something totally novel to Planet Earth, substation aims to support your signaling requirements, at scale, out of the box.


A MongoDB cluster is required for storing session and live connection metadata.

substation runs on Node.js and installs with npm. It is configured and launched from a parent script and does not have a CLI tool. A simple, robust, cross-platform way to keep your server running is to launch it with [forever] (

npm install --save substation
npm install -g forever
forever myApp.js

Like most webapp servers, substation must live behind a gateway server for load-balancing. The load balancer must be "sticky" - a frequent stream of requests from the same agent must be routed to the same service node. This is a requirement of substation also currently expects the load-balancer to terminate ssl connections.

The recommended load balancer for substation is nginx. Your configuration should contain something like this:

upstream myapp {
server {
    Listen              443 ssl;
    location / {
        proxy_set_header    X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
        proxy_set_header    X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header    Host $http_host;
        proxy_set_header    X-NginX-Proxy true;
        proxy_http_version  1.1;
        proxy_set_header    Upgrade $http_upgrade;
        proxy_set_header    Connection "upgrade";
        proxy_redirect      off;
        proxy_pass          http://myapp/;
    location /static {
        root                www/myapp;

Application Notes

Vital information relating to the deployment of a submergence environment.

Proxy Settings

The recommended proxy is nginx.

  • "sticky load balancing" must be used.
  • The http header "Host" must be overwritten. Do not trust a client's headers!

Database Setup

submergence relies on MongoDB and is designed to scale by sharding.