Feathers + jQuery

You don't always need a full on framework. Feathers and the Feathers client also work great to add real-time capability to a vanilla JavaScript or jQuery application. In this guide we will create a jQuery front-end for the chat API built in the Your First App section.

If you haven't done so you'll want to go through that tutorial or you can find a working example here.

ProTip: This guide uses ES6 syntax which is only available in newer browsers and IE edge. If you want to use the app in older browsers you need to include a transpiler like Babel.

Setting up the HTML page

The first step is getting the HTML skeleton for the chat application up. You can do so by pasting the following HTML into public/chat.html (which is the page the guide app redirects to after a successful login):

    <meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">
    <meta name="viewport"
      content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1, user-scalable=0" />
    <title>Feathers Chat</title>
    <link rel="shortcut icon" href="favicon.ico">
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="//cdn.rawgit.com/feathersjs/feathers-chat/v0.1.0/public/base.css">
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="//cdn.rawgit.com/feathersjs/feathers-chat/v0.1.0/public/chat.css">
    <div id="app" class="flex flex-column">
      <header class="title-bar flex flex-row flex-center">
        <div class="title-wrapper block center-element">
          <img class="logo" src="http://feathersjs.com/img/feathers-logo-wide.png"
            alt="Feathers Logo">
          <span class="title">Chat</span>

      <div class="flex flex-row flex-1 clear">
        <aside class="sidebar col col-3 flex flex-column flex-space-between">
          <header class="flex flex-row flex-center">
            <h4 class="font-300 text-center">
              <span class="font-600 online-count">0</span> users

          <ul class="flex flex-column flex-1 list-unstyled user-list"></ul>
          <footer class="flex flex-row flex-center">
            <a href="/login.html" class="logout button button-primary">
              Sign Out

        <div class="flex flex-column col col-9">
          <main class="chat flex flex-column flex-1 clear"></main>

          <form class="flex flex-row flex-space-between" id="send-message">
            <input type="text" name="text" class="flex flex-1">
            <button class="button-primary" type="submit">Send</button>
    <script src="//cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/babel-core/5.8.23/browser.min.js"></script>
    <script src="//cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/moment.js/2.12.0/moment.js"></script>
    <script src="//code.jquery.com/jquery-2.2.1.js"></script>
    <script type="text/javascript" src="//cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/core-js/2.1.4/core.min.js"></script>
    <script src="//unpkg.com/feathers-client@^1.0.0/dist/feathers.js">
    <script src="/socket.io/socket.io.js"></script>
    <script type="text/babel" src="app.js"></script>

This sets everything up we need including some styles, the Feathers client, jQuery and MomentJS (to format dates).

jQuery code

Our chat functionality will live in public/app.js. First, let's create some functions that use jQuery (and ES6 strings) to render a single user and message:

'use strict';

// A placeholder image if the user does not have one
const PLACEHOLDER = 'https://placeimg.com/60/60/people';
// An anonymous user if the message does not have that information
const dummyUser = {
  email: 'Anonymous'
// The total number of users
let userCount = 0;

function addUser(user) {
  // Update the number of users
  // Add the user to the list
    <a class="block relative" href="#">
      <img src="${user.avatar || PLACEHOLDER}" alt="" class="avatar">
      <span class="absolute username">${user.email}</span>

// Renders a new message and finds the user that belongs to the message
function addMessage(message) {
  // Find the user belonging to this message or use the anonymous user if not found
  const sender = message.sentBy || dummyUser;
  const chat = $('.chat');

  chat.append(`<div class="message flex flex-row">
    <img src="${sender.avatar || PLACEHOLDER}" alt="${sender.email}" class="avatar">
    <div class="message-wrapper">
      <p class="message-header">
        <span class="username font-600">${sender.email}</span>
        <span class="sent-date font-300">${moment(message.createdAt).format('MMM Do, hh:mm:ss')}</span>
      <p class="message-content font-300">${message.text}</p>

  chat.scrollTop(chat[0].scrollHeight - chat[0].clientHeight);

Now we can set up the Feathers client. Because we also want real-time we will use a Socket.io connection:

// Establish a Socket.io connection
const socket = io();
// Initialize our Feathers client application through Socket.io
// with hooks and authentication.
const app = feathers()
  // Use localStorage to store our login token
    storage: window.localStorage

// Get the Feathers services we want to use
const userService = app.service('users');
const messageService = app.service('messages');

Next, we set up event handlers for logout and when someone submits the message form:

$('#send-message').on('submit', function(ev) {
  // This is the message text input field
  const input = $(this).find('[name="text"]');

  // Create a new message and then clear the input field
    text: input.val()
  }).then(message => input.val(''));


$('.logout').on('click', function() {
  app.logout().then(() => window.location.href = '/index.html');

When submitting the form, we create a new message with the text from the input field. When clicking the logout button we will call app.logout() and then redirect back to the login page.

The chat application is set up to redirect from login.html to our chat.html page on successful login. This means that we already know what user is logged in so we just have to call app.authenticate to authenticate that user (and redirect back to the login page if it fails). Then we retrieve the 25 newest messages, all the users and listen to events to make real-time updates:

app.authenticate().then(() => {
  // Find the latest 10 messages. They will come with the newest first
  // which is why we have to reverse before adding them
    query: {
      $sort: { createdAt: -1 },
      $limit: 25
  }).then(page => page.data.reverse().forEach(addMessage));

  // Listen to created events and add the new message in real-time
  messageService.on('created', addMessage);

  // Find all users
  userService.find().then(page => {
    const users = page.data;

    // Add every user to the list

  // We will also see when new users get created in real-time
  userService.on('created', addUser);
// On unauthorized errors we just redirect back to the login page
.catch(error => {
  if(error.code === 401) {
    window.location.href = '/login.html'

That's it. We now have a real-time chat application front-end built in jQuery.

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