Using the Ably Pusher protocol adapter

Ably Pusher protocol support

Tip: If you would like to follow a step-by-step guide, see our Pusher protocol support tutorial.

Before you get started

Pusher protocol is not supported by default on Ably apps for security reasons (public channels).  You need to enable the protocol in your app dashboard before you use the Pusher protocol with Ably. See step 2 of our Pusher tutorial for more details.

Configuring a Pusher client library to connect to Ably

All of Pusher's SDK, regardless of language, are supported by Ably. In order to connect your Pusher SDK to Ably, you must initialise your Pusher client library SDK as follows, assuming an Ably API key of 'appid.keyid:keysecret':


var pusher = new Pusher('appid.keyid', {
wsHost : '',
httpHost : '',
disableStats : true,
encrypted : true,
cluster : 'eu'

The cluster property of the Pusher client shown in the code example is required from Pusher JS version 8

This property has no impact on what Ably Pusher endpoint is used and will use the closest Ably data center to the client 


And your Pusher REST libraries as (using ruby as an example):

app_id: 'appid',
key: 'appid.keyid',
secret: 'keysecret',
host: '',
encrypted: true

Please note:

  • For simplicity, the above example uses the Pusher Javascript and Ruby libraries. All other Pusher client libraries can be instanced in a similar fashion. See the complete list of Pusher client libraries and their documentation.
  • For the Pusher key, use the part of the Ably API key before the colon; for the secret, use the part after the colon.
  • You can add any other Pusher options you would normally use in the initializer.
  • In the Pusher client library terminology, the ‘encrypted’ option controls whether the the lib uses TLS, not end-to-end encryption. Setting the encrypted option to true is not mandatory, but strongly recommended to avoid sending private keys over plain text connections.
  • Pusher adapter clients are not “identified” in the Ably sense. Make sure you do not have ‘require identification’ channel rule on for any channels/namespaces you will be accessing with the adapter. See this article on how to change channel rules. If you get an “Ably error 40160”, this is the reason why.
  • The Pusher channel will have a different name from the corresponding Ably channel. See the ‘Channels’ section below.

Supported features

  • REST publish
  • REST get occupied channels
  • REST get presence set
  • REST get user count
  • Realtime subscribe
  • Realtime publish (ie client events)
  • Realtime presence

Unsupported features

  • REST subscriber count (partially supported; see below)

Usage notes


  • While the Pusher adapter is quite a light translation layer (certainly a good deal lighter than the Pubnub adapter), a protocol adapter inevitably adds some latency. Using the adapter will be a little slower than using Ably native client libraries. Typically the impact is in the low milliseconds. By the same token, it will likely also be marginally slower than using Pusher natively – but only if you are close to whichever Pusher data-center you are using. If not, the extra milliseconds of latency from the adapter should be more than compensated for by being able to use a data-center closer to you (unlike Pusher, Ably has data-centers in 9+ regions worldwide and federates messages between them - you automatically connect to the closest one to you, using latency-based routing).
  • Behind the scenes, the adapter just uses the normal Ably service, so there is no problem with using Pusher and Ably client libraries side by side (though bear in mind channel name translation, see below). You can mix and match as you like; for example, using Pusher client libraries normally, but using the Ably REST api to get channel history, which is not available through the Pusher clients.
  • While using the adapter gives you some of the advantages of Ably over Pusher (eg inter-region message federation), many others (e.g. continuity guarantees, fallback host support, history, flexible channel namespaces, powerful token authentication) require the use of the Ably client libraries. As a result, if a native Ably library is available for your platform, we recommend you consider using the Ably client libraries instead or at least make a plan to eventually transition over to Ably native client libraries.


When using Ably normally, you cannot connect to the Ably service at all without a complete API key, or a token derived from one. When using the Pusher adapter, you can connect to public channels (see ‘Channels’ below) with only the Ably key name (the app id together with the key id). Since the Pusher adapter lets you do something that would not normally be possible with Ably, it needs to be explicitly enabled for each api key you want to use it with. You can do this on your account dashboard, in the settings tab for each app you want to use with the adapter.


  • Ably and Pusher both have various (incompatible) restrictions on channel names, and use namespaces very differently. So when using the adapter, channel names are mapped. That is, if you connect to the channel “foo” using the Pusher adapter, it will actually use the Ably channel “public:foo”. The channel name translation rules are as follows:
  • Pusher public channels (no prefix) are mapped to the the Ably ‘public:’ namespace.
  • Pusher private channels (‘private-‘ prefix) are mapped to the the Ably ‘private:’ namespace.
  • Pusher presence channels (‘presence-‘ prefix) are mapped to the the Ably ‘presence:’ namespace.
  • Conversely, Ably channels not in any of the ‘public:’, ‘private:’, or ‘presence:’ namespaces get a ‘private-ablyroot-‘ prefix.
  • Colons are banned in Pusher channel names, but are important in Ably channel names, as they act as the namespace separator. So the adaptor maps semicolons to colons: semicolons in Pusher channel names become colons in Ably channel names, and vice versa. (This means you will not be able to access any Ably channels which have semicolons in their name).

A few examples:

Pusher adapter channel Actual Ably channel
presence-foo presence:foo
private-foo private:foo
foo public:foo
foo;bar public:foo:bar
private-ablyroot-foo foo
private-ablyroot-foo;bar foo:bar

User and subscriber count

Getting total subscriber count for a channel is a planned feature in Ably. For now, ‘subscriber count’, like ‘user count’, will only work with presence channels. ‘User count’ gives the size of the presence set once uniqified by clientId, and ‘subscriber count’ gives the raw size of the presence set.