Real-time Charts with ASP.NET Core SignalR and Chart.js

ASP.NET Core SignalR has recently been announced by Microsoft as:

[...] a new library for ASP.NET Core developers that makes it incredibly simple to add real-time web functionality to your applications. What is "real-time web" functionality? It's the ability to have your server-side code push content to the connected clients as it happens, in real-time.

So how simple is it really to work with SignalR?

The GitHub repository for this article can be found at:

What we are going to build

Something everyone wants on their dashboards are Real-time Charts, which display incoming values.

And with the amazing Chart.js library it is really easy to provide great looking Real-time Charts. SignalR will be used to send the measurements to the Web application.

Final Application

Data Model

The Chart should display measurements, so I am first defining a Measurement model, which will be used in the application:

// Copyright (c) Philipp Wagner. All rights reserved.
// Licensed under the MIT license. See LICENSE file in the project root for full license information.

using System;
using Newtonsoft.Json;

namespace SignalRSample.Core.Models
{
    public class Measurement
    {
        [JsonProperty("timestamp")]
        public DateTime Timestamp { get; set; }

        [JsonProperty("value")]
        public double Value { get; set; }

        public override string ToString()
        {
            return string.Format("Measurement (Timestamp = {0}, Value = {1})", Timestamp, Value);
        }
    }
}

SignalR Client

NuGet Packages

The first thing is to add the Microsoft.AspNetCore.SignalR.Client package, which is currently a Pre-Release. I am also adding the Microsoft.Extensions.Logging package, so some basic Logging functionality can be used.

<PackageReference Include="Microsoft.AspNetCore.SignalR.Client" Version="1.0.0-alpha2-final" />
<PackageReference Include="Microsoft.Extensions.Logging" Version="2.0.0" />

Simulating Measurements

The Console Application is responsible for connecting to the SignalR Hub on the Server side and send the Measurements to it. The SignalR Server is then responsible to broadcast the Measurements to all SignalR Clients listening on the Broadcast message:

// Copyright (c) Philipp Wagner. All rights reserved.
// Licensed under the MIT license. See LICENSE file in the project root for full license information.

using System;
using System.Threading;
using System.Threading.Tasks;
using Microsoft.AspNetCore.SignalR.Client;
using Microsoft.Extensions.Logging;
using SignalRSample.Core.Models;

namespace SignalRSample.ConsoleApp
{
    public class Program
    {
        private static readonly ILogger logger = CreateLogger("Program");

        public static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            var cancellationTokenSource = new CancellationTokenSource();

            Task.Run(() => MainAsync(cancellationTokenSource.Token).GetAwaiter().GetResult(), cancellationTokenSource.Token);

            Console.WriteLine("Press Enter to Exit ...");
            Console.ReadLine();

            cancellationTokenSource.Cancel();
        }

        private static async Task MainAsync(CancellationToken cancellationToken)
        {
            var hubConnection = new HubConnectionBuilder()
                .WithUrl("http://localhost:5000/sensor")
                .Build();

            await hubConnection.StartAsync();

            // Initialize a new Random Number Generator:
            Random rnd = new Random();

            double value = 0.0d;

            while (!cancellationToken.IsCancellationRequested)
            {
                await Task.Delay(250, cancellationToken);

                // Generate the value to Broadcast to Clients:
                value = Math.Min(Math.Max(value + (0.1 - rnd.NextDouble() / 5.0), -1), 1);

                // Create the Measurement with a Timestamp assigned:
                var measurement = new Measurement() {Timestamp = DateTime.UtcNow, Value = value};

                // Log informations:
                if (logger.IsEnabled(LogLevel.Trace))
                {
                    Console.WriteLine("Broadcasting Measurement to Clients ({0})", measurement);
                }

                // Finally send the value:
                await hubConnection.InvokeAsync("Broadcast", "Sensor", measurement, cancellationToken);
            }

            await hubConnection.DisposeAsync();
        }

        private static ILogger CreateLogger(string loggerName)
        {
            return new LoggerFactory()
                .AddConsole(LogLevel.Trace)
                .CreateLogger(loggerName);
        }
    }
}

SignalR Webserver

What's next is the Server, that implements the SignalR Hub and serves the Web application.

NuGet Packages

On the Server-side I am adding the following NuGet References:

<PackageReference Include="Microsoft.AspNetCore.Cors" Version="2.0.1" />
<PackageReference Include="Microsoft.AspNetCore.Diagnostics" Version="2.0.1" />
<PackageReference Include="Microsoft.AspNetCore.Hosting" Version="2.0.1" />
<PackageReference Include="Microsoft.AspNetCore.Server.Kestrel" Version="2.0.1" />
<PackageReference Include="Microsoft.AspNetCore.SignalR" Version="1.0.0-alpha2-final" />
<PackageReference Include="Microsoft.AspNetCore.StaticFiles" Version="2.0.1" />
<PackageReference Include="Microsoft.Extensions.Configuration.CommandLine" Version="2.0.0" />
<PackageReference Include="Microsoft.Extensions.Logging.Console" Version="2.0.0" />

Program

ASP.NET Core allows you to self-host your Web application using the Kestrel Server. The Webserver should serve the index.html with the Real-time Charts, so I am also setting the Content Root of the host. The Content Root name defaults to wwwroot:

// Copyright (c) Philipp Wagner. All rights reserved.
// Licensed under the MIT license. See LICENSE file in the project root for full license information.

using System.IO;
using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Hosting;
using Microsoft.Extensions.Configuration;
using Microsoft.Extensions.Logging;

namespace SignalRSample.Web
{
    public class Program
    {
        static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            var config = new ConfigurationBuilder()
                .AddCommandLine(args)
                .Build();

            var host = new WebHostBuilder()
                .UseConfiguration(config)
                .UseSetting(WebHostDefaults.PreventHostingStartupKey, "true")
                .ConfigureLogging(factory =>
                {
                    factory.AddConsole();
                })
                .UseKestrel()
                .UseContentRoot(Directory.GetCurrentDirectory())
                .UseEnvironment("Development")
                .UseStartup<Startup>()
                .Build();

            host.Run();
        }
    }
}

Startup

ASP.NET Core requires you to write Startup class, which configures the application and its services.

In my Startup code you can see, that I set a CORS policy and add SignalR to the list of Services. You also have to map the SignalR Hub Routes using app.UseSignalR(...) method.

// Copyright (c) Philipp Wagner. All rights reserved.
// Licensed under the MIT license. See LICENSE file in the project root for full license information.

using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Builder;
using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Hosting;
using Microsoft.Extensions.DependencyInjection;
using SignalRSample.Web.Hubs;

namespace SignalRSample.Web
{
    public class Startup
    {
        public void ConfigureServices(IServiceCollection services)
        {
            services.AddSignalR();

            services.AddCors(o =>
            {
                o.AddPolicy("Everything", p =>
                {
                    p.AllowAnyHeader()
                        .AllowAnyMethod()
                        .AllowAnyOrigin();
                });
            });
        }

        // This method gets called by the runtime. Use this method to configure the HTTP request pipeline.
        public void Configure(IApplicationBuilder app, IHostingEnvironment env)
        {
            if (env.IsDevelopment())
            {
                app.UseDeveloperExceptionPage();
            }

            app.UseFileServer();

            app.UseCors("Everything");

            app.UseSignalR(routes =>
            {
                routes.MapHub<SensorHub>("sensor");
            });
        }
    }
}

SensorHub

And now we write the SensorHub, which receives a Measurement and broadcasts it to all registered clients.

// Copyright (c) Philipp Wagner. All rights reserved.
// Licensed under the MIT license. See LICENSE file in the project root for full license information.

using System.Threading.Tasks;
using Microsoft.AspNetCore.SignalR;
using SignalRSample.Core.Models;

namespace SignalRSample.Web.Hubs
{
    public class SensorHub : Hub
    {
        public Task Broadcast(string sender, Measurement measurement)
        {
            return Clients
                // Do not Broadcast to Caller:
                .AllExcept(new [] { Context.ConnectionId })
                // Broadcast to all connected clients:
                .InvokeAsync("Broadcast", sender, measurement);
        }
    }
}

The Website: Providing Real-time Charts with SignalR and Chart.js

JavaScript libraries: signalr-client and Chart.js

First of all we need to obtain the two required JavaScript libraries, the SignalR Client and Chart.js:

> npm install @aspnet/signalr-client --save
> npm install chartjs --save

This leaves you with a folder node_modules, from which we can easily extract the libraries:

  • node_modules\@aspnet\signalr-client\dist\browser\signalr-client-1.0.0-alpha2-final.js
  • node_modules\chart.js\dist\Chart.bundle.js

I renamed the files to signalr-client.js and Chart.js, and put them in the folder wwwwroot/js so they can be served by the server.

Using SignalR to update Chart.js charts

The index.html simply consists of a canvas element, which is going to be populated by Chart.js.

With the signalr-client I am going to first open a connection to the SensorHub, then register on the Broadcast message and finally update the Chart with the received measurement.

The JavaScript Chart.js part was originally written by Simon Brunel and is available here.

<!DOCTYPE html>

<html lang="en" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">

<head>
    <meta charset="utf-8" />
    <title>SignalR Real-time Chart Example</title>
    <script src="js/Chart.js"></script>
    <script src="js/signalr-client.js"></script>
    <script type="text/javascript">
        document.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', function() {
            // Real-time Chart Example written by Simon Brunel (Plunker: https://plnkr.co/edit/Imxwl9OQJuaMepLNy6ly?p=info)
            var samples = 100;
            var speed = 250;
            var values = [];
            var labels = [];
            var charts = [];
            var value = 0;

            values.length = samples;
            labels.length = samples;
            values.fill(0);
            labels.fill(0);

            var chart = new Chart(document.getElementById("chart"),
                {
                    type: 'line',
                    data: {
                        labels: labels,
                        datasets: [
                            {
                                data: values,
                                backgroundColor: 'rgba(255, 99, 132, 0.1)',
                                borderColor: 'rgb(255, 99, 132)',
                                borderWidth: 2,
                                lineTension: 0.25,
                                pointRadius: 0
                            }
                        ]
                    },
                    options: {
                        responsive: false,
                        animation: {
                            duration: speed * 1.5,
                            easing: 'linear'
                        },
                        legend: false,
                        scales: {
                            xAxes: [
                                {
                                    display: false
                                }
                            ],
                            yAxes: [
                                {
                                    ticks: {
                                        max: 1,
                                        min: -1
                                    }
                                }
                            ]
                        }
                    }
                });

            var connection = new signalR.HubConnection("sensor");

            connection.on('Broadcast',
                function(sender, message) {
                    values.push(message.value);
                    values.shift();

                    chart.update();
                });

            connection.start();
        });
    </script>

</head>

<body>
    <canvas id="chart" style="width: 512px; height: 320px"></canvas>
</body>

</html>

Amazingly, this is already everything!

Conclusion

And that's it!

Start the Server, start the client, connect to http://localhost:5000 and enjoy the magic.

It was really refreshing to work with ASP.NET Core SignalR. Although I have no clue about how Websockets work and almost no experience in JavaScript: I got a chart with real-time updates running within minutes!

Hats off to the ASP.NET Core Team!

How to contribute

One of the easiest ways to contribute is to participate in discussions. You can also contribute by submitting pull requests.

General feedback and discussions?

Do you have questions or feedback on this article? Please create an issue on the GitHub issue tracker.

Something is wrong or missing?

There may be something wrong or missing in this article. If you want to help fixing it, then please make a Pull Request to this file on GitHub.