Rails 5 Actioncable Real-Time Notifications – Part 3 Stream Notifications

Part 2 is available here.

Source code is available here.

Anatoly Spektor

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Thank you for continuing to follow this tutorial. If you stumble on this post and don’t know what happening, please check Part 1 and  Part 2 that covers basic setup and styling. Also please check  Live Demo for the final result. If you like to jump straight into the code, here is the source code for all 3 parts.

facebook like notifications rails5

In this part we will hook live streaming to our lively notification center!

Say hello to ActionCable!

ActionCable allows you to open a streaming channel and stream your events live, without need to refresh!

Lets check it out!

ActionCable Magic

To create ActionCable stream first we will need to create a new channel. Lets scaffold it. Go to your terminal, navigate to notificator folder and run the following command:

This will create JavaScript and Ruby Channel for our notificator.

Lets enable streaming from notification_channel:


As you might see I have uncommented stream_form and gave it a name “notification_channel”. We will use this identifier to know where to broadcast our changes.

Also since we are here, we need to specify which route ActionCable can mount to.

Lets go to routes and add ActionCable mount route:


New piece is mount ActionCable.server. This specifies that ActionCable will mount to /cable.

We are almost done with the setup!

Restart your rails server, refresh your browser.  You might see following error in your rails logs:

I have create separate post how to resolve it ,but for your convenience, I will repeat it here.

Go to notificator/config/environments/development.rb and add following line:

Note: You can also put http://localhost:3000 separated by coma if you want

Restart your server, refresh the page, and now you should see something like this:

This means that channel is working properly! Good job on that!

Our next step is to make our counter to update live. We also want to have a bit of animation when counter number changel. For this we will use JQuery transition. Please download library from here . And put it into:


To make this file available everywhere, lets also include it in application.js:


As you see, I have added this library right before require_tree. Lets refresh page and make sure nothing blew up :)

Since we have transitions, lets use them!

Lets go to our channel/notifications.coffee, and add custom behaviour for when our channel receives new data.


We have added update_counter function, that is triggered whenever stream receives data. update_counter  functions changes text of the counter to a new number, and does it using transition from the top.

To make it work we need to pass new counter value to the stream.

Since event streaming is a very expensive task, we don’t want to do it in foreground. Lets create background job that will take care of it. Go to your notificator app in terminal and run:

This will create app/jobs/notification_broadcast_job.rb . Lets go there aand via this job broadcast our new counter value when new notification is created.


We did here 2 things:

First we passed counter to perform job action, which broadcasts this new value to ActionCable notification_channel that we have created earlier.

Second we made it broadcast whole partial with updated counter value.


Last piece left before we can see our counter updating live. I promise!

To make it work we need to call this job and pass it counter value. We also want to do it every time new notification is created.

Lets put job creation into after_create_commit hook of Notification.


This after_create_commit hook creates delayed job and passes notifications count to it. Very straightforward.

Enough talking, lets see it. Restart your server. Open 2 browser windows side by side.

First window: http://localhost:3000/messages/new
Second window: http://localhost:3000/

rails5 actioncable tutorial live notifications

Now create message in the first window, and look at counter in the second window.

Boom! Magic :)

Pretty amazing, hugh ?

The only piece that I want to add here, is to append new comment to the modal as well.

This will allow us to look at the whole flow once again.

Lets make our notifications more descriptive. Lets make them show actual Message.


In line 7 this time we are passing “self.body”, this way we will able to see message body in our modal.

Next lets update our broadcasting job to accept and render notification partial:


We are passing notification to perform, from there we are passing it to ActionCable but first we render it as partial. (Same as counter before)

For this to work we need our Notification to be passed to our job. Lets do it by updating hook in Notification and passing self:


Cool! Last piece, we need to append our notification to notifications list via JavaScript. Remember how we updated counter ? Lets do the same with notification:


One line change: in received function we are prepending data.notification .

Thats it. Now lets try two window magic one more time. Restart your server, refresh your browsers.Open and keep your modal opened in one browser window, create new message in other browser window:

rails5 actioncable tutorial screen5 live update

What you should see is how notifications are appearing live as well as counter value changing.

Congrats! You have done it!

Thank for you completing the tutorial.

This is it for coding part. If you are curious how to deploy it to Heroku, please read Part 4.

Please post your questions into comment section.

If you like what you see please Subscribe to my blog. If you need help with your project, please Get In Touch.


Anatoly Spektor

IT Consultant with 6 years experience in Software Development and IT Leadership. Participated in such projects as Eclipse IDE, Big Blue Button, Toronto 2015 Panam Games.

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  1. Yopi

    Hi Anatoly,

    Thanks for this tutorial, really easy to understand :), but i have done everything you instructed me to do, unfortunately, above code does not work for me, what is wrong with my code? FYI, i am using rails 5.0.0 in development environment, thank you for the help

  2. Lina

    hey, thanks for the awesome tutorial, one question , if I would like to the counter to disappear when the notification bell is clicked how do I achieve that ?