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Build a Multi-User Chat With React.js

In this guide, you will build a multi-user chat application with Directus’ WebSockets interface that authenticates users with an existing account, shows historical messages stored in Directus, allows users to send new messages, and immediately updates all connected chats.

Before You Start

Set Up Your Directus Project

You will need a Directus project. If you don’t already have one, the easiest way to get started is with our managed Directus Cloud service.

Create a new collection called messages, with date_created and user_created fields enabled in the Optional System Fields pane on collection creation. Create an input field called text.

Create a new Role called Users. Give Create and Read access to the Messages collection, and Read access to the Directus Users system collection. Now, create a new user with this role and take note of the password you set.

Create a React.js Boilerplate

jsx
function App() {
	return (
		<div className="App">
			<form>
				<label htmlFor="email">Email</label>
				<input type="email" id="email" />
				<label htmlFor="password">Password</label>
				<input type="password" id="password" />
				<button type="submit">Submit</button>
			</form>

			<ol></ol>

			<form>
				<label htmlFor="message">Message</label>
				<input type="text" id="text" />
				<button type="submit">Submit</button>
			</form>
		</div>
	);
}
function App() {
	return (
		<div className="App">
			<form>
				<label htmlFor="email">Email</label>
				<input type="email" id="email" />
				<label htmlFor="password">Password</label>
				<input type="password" id="password" />
				<button type="submit">Submit</button>
			</form>

			<ol></ol>

			<form>
				<label htmlFor="message">Message</label>
				<input type="text" id="text" />
				<button type="submit">Submit</button>
			</form>
		</div>
	);
}

The first form will handle user login, the second will handle new message submissions while the empty <ol> will be populated with messages we will create shortly.

Create a url variable and be sure to replace your-directus-url with your project’s URL:

js
const url = 'https://your-directus-url';
const url = 'https://your-directus-url';

Import the Required Composables and Methods

At the top of your file, import the SDK composables needed for this project

js
import { authentication, createDirectus, realtime } from '@directus/sdk';
import { authentication, createDirectus, realtime } from '@directus/sdk';
  • createDirectus is a function that initializes a Directus client.
  • authentication provides methods to authenticate a user.
  • realtime provides methods to establish a WebSocket connection.

Also import useState and useEffect from react.

js
import { useState, useEffect } from 'react';
import { useState, useEffect } from 'react';

Establish and Authenticate a WebSocket Client

Create and authenticate the WebSocket client

js
const client = createDirectus(url)
  .with(authentication())
  .with(realtime());
const client = createDirectus(url)
  .with(authentication())
  .with(realtime());

Set Up Form Submission Methods

Create the methods for form submissions:

js
const loginSubmit = (event) => {};

const messageSubmit = (event) => {};
const loginSubmit = (event) => {};

const messageSubmit = (event) => {};

Ensure to call the event.preventDefault() in these methods to prevent the browser from refreshing the page upon submission of the form.

js
const loginSubmit = (event) => {
	event.preventDefault(); 
};

const messageSubmit = (event) => {
	event.preventDefault(); 
};
const loginSubmit = (event) => {
	event.preventDefault(); 
};

const messageSubmit = (event) => {
	event.preventDefault(); 
};

Now, extract the email and password values from the login form.

js
const loginSubmit = (event) => {
    event.preventDefault();
    const email = event.target.elements.email.value; 
    const password = event.target.elements.password.value; 
  };
const loginSubmit = (event) => {
    event.preventDefault();
    const email = event.target.elements.email.value; 
    const password = event.target.elements.password.value; 
  };

Once the client is authenticated, immediately create a WebSocket connection:

js
client.connect();
client.connect();

Subscribe To Messages

As soon as you have successfully authenticated, a message will be sent. When this happens, within useEffect, subscribe to updates on the Messages collection.

js
useEffect(() => {
  const cleanup = client.onWebSocket('message', function (data) {
    if (data.type == 'auth' && data.status == 'ok') {
      subscribe('create');
    }
  });

  client.connect();

  return cleanup;
}, []);
useEffect(() => {
  const cleanup = client.onWebSocket('message', function (data) {
    if (data.type == 'auth' && data.status == 'ok') {
      subscribe('create');
    }
  });

  client.connect();

  return cleanup;
}, []);

Create a subscribe function that subscribes to events.

js
async function subscribe(event) {
  const { subscription } = await client.subscribe('messages', {
    event,
    query: {
      fields: ['*', 'user_created.first_name'],
    },
  });

  for await (const message of subscription) {
    receiveMessage(message);
  }
}
async function subscribe(event) {
  const { subscription } = await client.subscribe('messages', {
    event,
    query: {
      fields: ['*', 'user_created.first_name'],
    },
  });

  for await (const message of subscription) {
    receiveMessage(message);
  }
}

When a subscription is started, a message will be sent to confirm. Create a receiveMessage function with the following:

js
function receiveMessage() {
  if (data.type == 'subscription' && data.event == 'init') {
	  console.log('subscription started');
  }
}
function receiveMessage() {
  if (data.type == 'subscription' && data.event == 'init') {
	  console.log('subscription started');
  }
}

Open your browser, enter your user’s email and password, and hit submit. Check the browser console. You should see “subscription started”

Create New Messages

At the top of your component, set up a piece of state to store an array of previous message history.

js
const [messageHistory, setMessageHistory] = useState([]);
const [messageHistory, setMessageHistory] = useState([]);

Within the messageSubmit method, send a new message to create the item in your Directus collection:

js
const messageSubmit = (event) => {
  event.preventDefault();

  const text = event.target.elements.text.value;

  client.sendMessage({
    type: 'items',
    collection: 'messages',
    action: 'create',
    data: { text },
  });

  event.target.reset();
};
const messageSubmit = (event) => {
  event.preventDefault();

  const text = event.target.elements.text.value;

  client.sendMessage({
    type: 'items',
    collection: 'messages',
    action: 'create',
    data: { text },
  });

  event.target.reset();
};

Refresh your browser, login, and submit a new message. Check the Messages collection in your Directus project and you should see a new item.

Directus Data Studio Content Module showing the Messages collection with one item in it. Visible is the text, User, and Date Created.

Display New Messages

In your receiveMessage function, listen for new create events on the Messages collection, and add them to messageHistory:

js
if (data.type == 'subscription' && data.event == 'create') {
    addMessageToList(message.data[0]);
  }
if (data.type == 'subscription' && data.event == 'create') {
    addMessageToList(message.data[0]);
  }

Create an addMessageToList function that adds new messages to list:

js
function addMessageToList(message) {
  setMessageHistory([...messageHistory, message]);
}
function addMessageToList(message) {
  setMessageHistory([...messageHistory, message]);
}

Update your <ol> to display items in the array by mapping over messageHistory

jsx
<ol>
	{messageHistory.map((message) => (
		<li key={message.id}>
			{message.user_created.first_name}: {message.text}
		</li>
	))}
</ol>
<ol>
	{messageHistory.map((message) => (
		<li key={message.id}>
			{message.user_created.first_name}: {message.text}
		</li>
	))}
</ol>

Refresh your browser, login, and submit a new message. The result should be shown on the page. Open a second browser and navigate to your index.html file, login and submit a message there and both pages should immediately update

Web page showing the login form, new message form, and one message shown. The message reads “Kevin: This is brilliant!”

Display Historical Messages

To display the list of all existing messages, create a function readAllMessages with the following:

js
function readAllMessages() {
  client.sendMessage({
    type: 'items',
    collection: 'messages',
    action: 'read',
    query: {
      limit: 10,
      sort: '-date_created',
      fields: ['*', 'user_created.first_name'],
    },
  });
}
function readAllMessages() {
  client.sendMessage({
    type: 'items',
    collection: 'messages',
    action: 'read',
    query: {
      limit: 10,
      sort: '-date_created',
      fields: ['*', 'user_created.first_name'],
    },
  });
}

Run this function directly before subscribing to any events

js
const cleanup = client.onWebSocket('message', function (data) {
  if (data.type == 'auth' && data.status == 'ok') {
    readAllMessages(); 
    subscribe('create');
  }
});
const cleanup = client.onWebSocket('message', function (data) {
  if (data.type == 'auth' && data.status == 'ok') {
    readAllMessages(); 
    subscribe('create');
  }
});

Within the connection, listen for "items" message to update the user interface with message history.

js
const cleanup = client.onWebSocket('message', function (data) {
  if (data.type == 'auth' && data.status == 'ok') {
    readAllMessages();
    subscribe('create');
  }

  if (data.type == 'items') { 
    for (const item of data.data) { 
      addMessageToList(item); 
    } 
  } 
});
const cleanup = client.onWebSocket('message', function (data) {
  if (data.type == 'auth' && data.status == 'ok') {
    readAllMessages();
    subscribe('create');
  }

  if (data.type == 'items') { 
    for (const item of data.data) { 
      addMessageToList(item); 
    } 
  } 
});

Refresh your browser, login, and you should see the existing messages shown in your browser.

Next Steps

This guide covers authentication, item creation, and subscription using WebSockets. You may consider:

  1. Hiding the login form and only showing the new message form once authenticated.
  2. Handling reconnection logic if the client disconnects or a refresh token is needed.
  3. Locking down permissions so users can only see user first names.
  4. Allow for editing and deletion of messages by the author or by an admin.

Full Code Sample

jsx
import { authentication, createDirectus, realtime } from '@directus/sdk';
import { useState, useEffect } from 'react';

const url = 'https://your-directus-url';

const client = createDirectus(url).with(authentication()).with(realtime());

export default function App() {
  const [messageHistory, setMessageHistory] = useState([]);

  useEffect(() => {
    const cleanup = client.onWebSocket('message', function (data) {
      if (data.type == 'auth' && data.status == 'ok') {
        readAllMessages();
        subscribe('create');
      }

      if (data.type === 'items') {
        for (const item of data.data) {
          addMessageToList(item);
        }
      }
    });

    client.connect();

    return cleanup;
  }, []);

  const loginSubmit = (event) => {
    event.preventDefault();
    const email = event.target.elements.email.value;
    const password = event.target.elements.password.value;
    client.login(email, password);
  };

  async function subscribe(event) {
    const { subscription } = await client.subscribe('messages', {
      event,
      query: {
        fields: ['*', 'user_created.first_name'],
      },
    });

    for await (const message of subscription) {
      console.log('receiveMessage', message);
      receiveMessage(message);
    }
  }

  function readAllMessages() {
    client.sendMessage({
      type: 'items',
      collection: 'messages',
      action: 'read',
      query: {
        limit: 10,
        sort: '-date_created',
        fields: ['*', 'user_created.first_name'],
      },
    });
  }

  function receiveMessage(data) {
    if (data.type == 'subscription' && data.event == 'init') {
      console.log('subscription started');
    }
    if (data.type == 'subscription' && data.event == 'create') {
      addMessageToList(message.data[0]);
    }
  }

  function addMessageToList(message) {
    setMessageHistory([...messageHistory, message]);
  }

  const messageSubmit = (event) => {
    event.preventDefault();

    const text = event.target.elements.text.value;

    client.sendMessage({
      type: 'items',
      collection: 'messages',
      action: 'create',
      data: { text },
    });

    event.target.reset();
  };

  return (
    <div className='App'>
      <form onSubmit={loginSubmit}>
        <label htmlFor='email'>Email</label>
        <input type='email' id='email' defaultValue='esther@directus.io' />
        <label htmlFor='password'>Password</label>
        <input type='password' id='password' defaultValue='*yb@o2DtuJvb' />
        <input type='submit' />
      </form>

      <ol>
        {messageHistory.map((message) => (
          <li key={message.id}>
            {message.user_created.first_name}: {message.text}
          </li>
        ))}
      </ol>

      <form onSubmit={messageSubmit}>
        <label htmlFor='message'>Message</label>
        <input type='text' id='text' />
        <input type='submit' />
      </form>
    </div>
  );
}
import { authentication, createDirectus, realtime } from '@directus/sdk';
import { useState, useEffect } from 'react';

const url = 'https://your-directus-url';

const client = createDirectus(url).with(authentication()).with(realtime());

export default function App() {
  const [messageHistory, setMessageHistory] = useState([]);

  useEffect(() => {
    const cleanup = client.onWebSocket('message', function (data) {
      if (data.type == 'auth' && data.status == 'ok') {
        readAllMessages();
        subscribe('create');
      }

      if (data.type === 'items') {
        for (const item of data.data) {
          addMessageToList(item);
        }
      }
    });

    client.connect();

    return cleanup;
  }, []);

  const loginSubmit = (event) => {
    event.preventDefault();
    const email = event.target.elements.email.value;
    const password = event.target.elements.password.value;
    client.login(email, password);
  };

  async function subscribe(event) {
    const { subscription } = await client.subscribe('messages', {
      event,
      query: {
        fields: ['*', 'user_created.first_name'],
      },
    });

    for await (const message of subscription) {
      console.log('receiveMessage', message);
      receiveMessage(message);
    }
  }

  function readAllMessages() {
    client.sendMessage({
      type: 'items',
      collection: 'messages',
      action: 'read',
      query: {
        limit: 10,
        sort: '-date_created',
        fields: ['*', 'user_created.first_name'],
      },
    });
  }

  function receiveMessage(data) {
    if (data.type == 'subscription' && data.event == 'init') {
      console.log('subscription started');
    }
    if (data.type == 'subscription' && data.event == 'create') {
      addMessageToList(message.data[0]);
    }
  }

  function addMessageToList(message) {
    setMessageHistory([...messageHistory, message]);
  }

  const messageSubmit = (event) => {
    event.preventDefault();

    const text = event.target.elements.text.value;

    client.sendMessage({
      type: 'items',
      collection: 'messages',
      action: 'create',
      data: { text },
    });

    event.target.reset();
  };

  return (
    <div className='App'>
      <form onSubmit={loginSubmit}>
        <label htmlFor='email'>Email</label>
        <input type='email' id='email' defaultValue='esther@directus.io' />
        <label htmlFor='password'>Password</label>
        <input type='password' id='password' defaultValue='*yb@o2DtuJvb' />
        <input type='submit' />
      </form>

      <ol>
        {messageHistory.map((message) => (
          <li key={message.id}>
            {message.user_created.first_name}: {message.text}
          </li>
        ))}
      </ol>

      <form onSubmit={messageSubmit}>
        <label htmlFor='message'>Message</label>
        <input type='text' id='text' />
        <input type='submit' />
      </form>
    </div>
  );
}

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Contributors
Esther Agbaje

Last updated: