Implementing Real-Time Notifications Using Redis Pub/Sub

Real-time notifications play a crucial role in enhancing user engagement and providing a dynamic user experience in web applications. One of the popular technologies for implementing real-time communication is Redis Pub/Sub, which offers a scalable and efficient messaging system. In this article, we will explore how to implement real-time notifications using Redis Pub/Sub in a MERN stack (MongoDB, Express.js, React, Node.js) application.

Overview of Redis Pub/Sub

Redis Pub/Sub is a publish/subscribe messaging system that allows for real-time communication between clients. It operates through channels, where publishers send messages and subscribers receive those messages. Redis Pub/Sub offers several advantages for implementing real-time notifications:

  • Efficiency: Redis is an in-memory data store, providing fast message delivery and low latency, making it suitable for real-time scenarios.

  • Scalability: Redis Pub/Sub allows for easy scalability by adding more subscribers to handle increasing traffic.

  • Reliability: Redis ensures message persistence, allowing subscribers to receive missed messages even if they were offline during message publication.

Setting Up Redis

Before diving into the implementation, we need to set up Redis. You can download Redis from the official website ( and follow the installation instructions for your operating system. Alternatively, you can opt for a managed Redis service, such as Redis Labs or Amazon ElastiCache.

Once Redis is installed, we need to configure it in our Node.js application. We'll use the popular Redis client library, ioredis ( Learn More )to connect to Redis. Start by installing the library using npm:

npm install ioredis

Now, we can configure Redis in our Node.js application:

const Redis = require('ioredis');
const redis = new Redis();

With this configuration, our application is ready to leverage Redis Pub/Sub for real-time notifications.

Implementing the Publisher

The publisher module is responsible for sending notifications to Redis channels. We can create a separate file, publisher.js, to encapsulate the publisher functionality:

// publisher.js
const redis = require('./redis');

exports.publishNotification = (channel, message) => {
  redis.publish(channel, JSON.stringify(message));

The publishNotification function takes a channel name and a message as parameters and publishes the message to the specified channel using the Redis client.

Implementing the Subscriber

The subscriber module listens for messages on subscribed channels and handles them accordingly. We'll create another file, subscriber.js, to handle the subscriber functionality:

// subscriber.js
const redis = require('./redis');

exports.subscribeToChannel = (channel) => {
  redis.subscribe(channel, (err) => {
    if (err) {
      console.error('Error subscribing to channel:', err);
    } else {
      console.log('Subscribed to channel:', channel);

redis.on('message', (channel, message) => {
  const parsedMessage = JSON.parse(message);
  // Handle the received notification (e.g., send it to connected clients)
  console.log(`Received notification from channel '${channel}':`, parsedMessage);

In the subscribeToChannel function, we subscribe to a specific channel using the Redis client. Whenever a new message arrives on that channel, the message event is triggered, allowing us to handle the notification accordingly.

User Subscription Management

To ensure that users receive relevant notifications, we need a mechanism to manage their subscriptions to specific channels. We can create a subscriptionManager.js module to handle user subscriptions:

javascriptCopy code// subscriptionManager.js
const userSubscriptions = new Map();

exports.subscribeUserToChannel = (userId, channel) => {
  let userChannels = userSubscriptions.get(userId);
  if (!userChannels) {
    userChannels = new Set();
  userSubscriptions.set(userId, userChannels);

exports.unsubscribeUserFromChannel = (userId, channel) => {
  const userChannels = userSubscriptions.get(userId);
  if (userChannels) {
    if (userChannels.size === 0) {

exports.getChannelsForUser = (userId) => {
  return userSubscriptions.get(userId);

The subscriptionManager.js module provides functions to subscribe a user to a channel, unsubscribe them, and retrieve the list of channels subscribed by a user. We use a Map to maintain the subscriptions, where each key represents a user ID and the corresponding value is a Set containing the subscribed channels.

Emitting Notifications

Now, let's explore how to emit notifications to relevant subscribers. When an event occurs that requires a real-time notification (e.g., a new post or comment), we can use the publisher module to publish a message to the corresponding channel. Here's an example:

javascriptCopy codeconst { publishNotification } = require('./publisher');
const { getChannelsForUser } = require('./subscriptionManager');

exports.emitNotification = (channel, message) => {
  const subscribers = getChannelsForUser(channel);
  if (subscribers) {
    subscribers.forEach((userId) => {
      publishNotification(channel, message);

The emitNotification the function retrieves the list of subscribers for a given channel using the getChannelsForUser function. It then iterates over the subscribers and publishes the notification message using the publisher module.

Handling Notifications on the Client-Side

To complete the real-time notification system, we need to handle notifications on the client side. Depending on your client-side technology stack, you can utilize WebSocket or a real-time framework like Socket.IO to establish a connection with the server and receive notifications in real time.

import React, { useEffect, useState } from 'react';
import io from '';

const NotificationComponent: React.FC = () => {
  const [notifications, setNotifications] = useState<string[]>([]);

  useEffect(() => {
    const socket = io(); // Connect to the WebSocket server
    socket.on('notification', (message: string) => {
      setNotifications((prevNotifications) => [...prevNotifications, message]);

    return () => {
      socket.disconnect(); // Disconnect the WebSocket on component unmount
  }, []);

  return (
        {, index) => (
          <li key={index}>{notification}</li>

export default NotificationComponent;

In this example, we're using the library to establish a WebSocket connection with the server. The NotificationComponent is a functional component that renders a list of notifications received from the server.

Inside the useEffect hook, we create a new WebSocket connection by calling io(). We then listen for the notification event and update the notifications state whenever a new notification is received. We use the setNotifications function with the spread operator to append the new notification to the existing list.

The return statement renders the list of notifications inside an HTML ul element. We use the map function to iterate over the notifications array and render each notification as an li element.


install the necessary dependencies ( before using this code snippet. You will also need to adjust the WebSocket connection URL in the io() function.


Real-time notifications are an essential component of modern web applications, providing users with timely updates and enhancing their overall experience. In this article, we explored how to implement real-time notifications using Redis Pub/Sub in a MERN stack application.

By leveraging Redis Pub/Sub, we were able to create a scalable and efficient messaging system for handling real-time communication. Redis's in-memory data store and Pub/Sub functionality allowed us to achieve low latency and high performance, making it ideal for real-time scenarios.