Get to Know MQTT: The Instant Messaging Protocol for Chat App

build instant messaging app using MQTT

Building a chat application from scratch has many important aspects attached to it. One of the most important things to consider is what messaging protocol you are going to use. MQTT, XMPP, DDS are some of the most common messaging protocols that are leveraged for developing chat applications. In this article, we are going to discuss the MQTT protocol in detail and find out if it’s suitable for chat app development. Stay with us and keep reading.

What is MQTT Protocol?

MQTT stands for MQ Telemetry Transport. It was earlier known as Message Queuing Telemetry Transport. It is lightweight, simple, and easy to implement. 

To provide you with a little bit of background, we would like to mention that the MQTT protocol was invented back in 1999 by Andy Stanford Clark and Arlen Nipper. It is especially designed for high latency, low bandwidth, and unreliable networks. MQTT messaging protocol is generally used in an embedded environment for machine to machine communication. 

Some of the most popular industries in which it is often used are telecommunications, automotive manufacturing, and many others. One more important aspect of MQTT architecture is that it utilizes a publish/subscribe messaging architecture.

Build Instant Messaging App with MQTT Protocol -Know How It Works

Now, the MQTT architecture consists of two parts – MQTT clients and MQTT brokers. Broker can be described as the server that distributes the information to the clients connected to the server. On the other hand, a client can be described as the device that connects to the broker to send or receive information. With MQTT, multiple clients can easily connect to the same broker. In this section, we shall discuss some of the best features of MQTT protocol that makes it the most viable option to build a real-time messaging app.

MQTT Works

1. Quality of Service

Quality of Service (QoS) can be defined as the set of technologies that work on a particular network to ensure its ability to run high-priority applications. The number of QoS levels is directly proportional to the reliability of the protocol. More the QoS levels, the more reliable the protocol is. With MQTT, you get three levels of QoS.

  • At most once (0)  : It is the lowest QoS level in which the recipient does not acknowledge receiving the message. Also, there is no guarantee of a message.
  • At least once (1) : In this, the delivery of a message is guaranteed. The sender gets to store the message until the receiver gets notified of the delivery.
  • Exactly once (2)  : This is the highest QoS level that MQTT has to offer. In fact, it is the safest level too. In this the recipient receives the message just once.

2. Consistent Sessions

This particular MQTT protocol feature makes MQTT one of the best options if you’re planning to build a custom chat platform. With this functionality, there can be persistent sessions between the client and the broker. In case the connection breaks for some reason, the broken can retain the information that is required to reconnect with the client. It is done automatically.

3. Retained message

This feature allows the broker to retain the last message on a given topic in case the client subscribes to a new message topic. Hence, it totally makes sense to build a chat app leveraging MQTT protocol.

5 Reasons To Choosing MQTT Protocol for Your Chat App Developement?

Have you been planning to build white label messaging app of your own? Wondering if you should choose the MQTT  messaging protocol or not? Fret not! We have got your back. We shall provide you with some of the top reasons as to why you should go for MQTT protocol for chat application formation.

  • It is a lightweight protocol that supports different types of devices be them small, cheap, or low-powered. Moreover, MQTT requires the minimum resources to run. 
  • MQTT offers three QoS levels to support reliable messaging. It can transfer data even with unstable connections. 
  • It is an open messaging protocol and has a standard defined documentation. The best part about MQTT is that it has a set of ready-made libraries of Java, Python, C++, and other programming languages. 
  • As MQTT has open-source libraries, it tends to minimize your development costs. Moreover, it is super easy to implement. Thanks to its free available documentation. 
  • It supports security through TLS and other common authentication protocols.

DID YOU KNOW : Popular Apps That Use MQTT Communication Protocol

Trust us when we say that choosing MQTT to build a real time chat app will be a good decision. It is quite popular in the market and has been leveraged by many leading messaging apps. In this section, we are going to discuss some of them. Keep reading. 

Do you know Facebook Messenger uses MQTT messaging protocol for its mobile chat functionality? Yes! Every chat has a generated topic and all the chat members subscribe and publish to that generated topic. Well, the reason Facebook chose MQTT was its low bandwidth and battery usage. 

Another big app that uses the MQTT protocol is none other than Instagram. Instagram’s direct message function leverages MQTT. Thanks to its smooth implementation process! 

Some giant cloud platforms including Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, and Amazon Web Services also use the MQTT messaging protocol

There’s no denying that MQTT can be the best option for your chat app development too. It requires little implementation efforts and is the most ideal for machine-to-machine communication. It also allows efficient transmission of data and is a good choice for networks that experience different levels of latency.

Comparison Between MQTT Vs.XMPP

Whether you build a chat app for Android, iOS, or the web, choosing the right messaging protocol is very essential. In this section, we are going to draw a major comparison between two leading protocols namely, MQTT and XMPP.

  1. Now, MQTT is a machine to machine internet of things connectivity protocol. It is an extremely lightweight publish/subscribe messaging transport. It is extremely useful for connections with remote locations. On the other hand, XMPP is an open XML technology for real-time communication. It allows instant messaging, multi-party chat, and routing of XML data. 
  2. MQTT is a transport protocol while XMPP is an instant messaging protocol and clearly defines all the message formats. XMPP protocol transmits XML fragments between the server and client.  
  3. MQTT has different levels of quality of service. But this kind of flexibility is not available in XMPP. 
  4. On one hand, where MQTT has a very low keep-alive traffic, XMPP has a very high overhead in handling present messages among the clients. 
  5. It is easier to determine the message size in MQTT. But when it comes to XMPP, it is difficult to determine the message size as it totally depends on encryption and compression. 


We hope our article helped you understand all the beneficial aspects revolving around the MQTT messaging protocol. If you are planning to build a chat app of your own, you can certainly use MQTT as your messaging protocol. So, wait no more! Leverage MQTT today. Also, if you want readymade chat solutions for your business, you can always opt for Apphitect Messaging API Contact us to know more!

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Parthiba is a Product Marketer, helping providers of the various industries like healthcare, education, etc., to elevate their conversation value with the help of powerful communication solutions to drive better communication experience.

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