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How WhatsApp works and how to build a WhatsApp clone?

WhatsApp is the most sought after messaging application that has revolutionized the messaging app market and has inspired a bunch of clones and competitors as well. On the flipside, many among those cloning attempts are unable to match the standards of WhatsApp.

WhatsApp clones which promise to have similar functionalities as that of the market giant are either a mere email messaging systems showcased as a messaging system or doesn’t use/follow even half of the technical aspects of WhatsApp.

In order to build a WhatsApp like chat application, one should have a detailed understanding of its functioning mechanism and technicalities.

How Whatsapp Messaging App is Working Technically?

create a clone app similar to whatsappWhatsApp is a real-time messaging application, which makes use of Ejabberd (XMPP) server. This server facilitates instant message transfer between two or many users at any given second.

ERLANG is the programming language used by WhatsApp. Ejabberd is an open source Jabber server written in Erlang language. It was preferred by the techies of WhatsApp as it was suitable for accommodating huge communication system with high sustainability.

However, while building a WhatsApp like app, a lot more efforts were put in like modifications in Ejabberd, opting for an in-house protocol from XMPP, code restructuring and incorporating important changes in Erlang. These tweaks contributed towards achieving optimal server performance.

Erlang also helps by quickly adapting to instant updates and hot fixes. Whatever may be the improvisations or coding improvements, Erlang helps in quickly pushing the changes to live implementation without needing restarts. Thus any changes can be rolled out in quick time and succession.

1. Insights on data transfer in WhatsApp

how whatsapp works technicallyWhatsApp manages over 50 billion message transfers a day. So how these ever-lasting queues of messages are processed without hiccups? The key to the smooth data processing lies with the message queue length. The length of the message queue of all the processes associated with a node is monitored.

In case of multimedia messages, contents (audio, video, or image) are uploaded into a HTTP server and are linked with the content and then sent to the receiving node (receiver) in the form of a thumbnail. Based on the user’s preference the content can either be viewed or discarded.

2. Protocol used by WhatsApp

XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) is being used by WhatsApp. To ensure network security, DSL is being used. This ensures private data transfer.

As and when message is sent, it is queued on the server. The message waits in the queue until the recipient reconnects to receive the message. As and when a message is delivered the sender gets notified by a double check mark near the message. After the delivery the messages are instantly deleted from the server memory.

3. Registration process of WhatsApp

Whatsapp Registration ProcessWhatsApp followed the regular practice of generating a user name and password, which we commonly do while signing up for a mailing system, based on the mobile phone’s IMEI number.

Now the practice has been changed. Instead of being dependent on the IMEI number, WhatsApp now asks for the app to send a 5 digit PIN. A message will then be sent to the phone number from WhatsApp. The app on the mobile device requests for a unique key from WhatsApp. This ditches out the dependency of WhatsApp being used on the device.

4. Database management

For the database management Mnesia DB comes into play. Mnesia is a multiuser distributed DBMS which happens to be the default DB of ERLANG. Thus by using Mnesia, the app is able to achieve quicker request responses, thereby improving the overall efficiency.

FreeBSD is the operating system upon which WhatsApp is laid upon. Improvising on the ERLANG based applications and optimizing FreeBSD, WhatsApp is able to achieve better throughput. For storing multimedia files, the app uses an exclusive web server YAWS.

Build a Whatsapp like Messaging App with Contus Fly

Having discussed the technicalities of WhatsApp it is time to shift gears over analyzing the possibilities of creating a whatsApp alternative. There are plenty of messaging applications in the market that appear to be perfect WhatsApp clones. The reality is many of the attempts of building WhatsApp like apps are failing because they do not follow the technical aspects.

Well, if we take such apps as an example, it might be quite difficult to understand as they are completely built products. Instead a ready made solution that can help in creating a WhatsApp clone app would be a better learning material.

Contus Fly is a framework that catalyses the build of an instant messaging application. Contus Fly can be used to develop WhatsApp clone app for Android, iOS and Windows platforms as it has the SDK ready for these widely preferred mobile operating systems. Since native coding has been used by Contus Fly to achieve better speed, it can be handy in developing a WhatsApp like native app.

Framework & Architecture of Contus Fly

contus fly real time chat app work flow

Ejabberd

Ejabberd, the open source Jabber server has been customized by Contus Fly to improve operational efficiency. The XMPP protocol has also been customized to speedup signing in and re-signing in sessions. To protect the app from DDOS attacks and to prevent account spoofing, this mobile chat application has been encrypted with HMAC.

Mnesia and MySQL

For data storing, Contus Fly makes use of both Mnesia and MySQL. While Mnesia is used to maintain user login sessions, MySQL contributes in maintaining the user details, right from account credentials to other personal data.

Cassandra database

Chat logs are a key for instant messaging applications. In order to save chat history between several nodes, Contus Fly has deployed . This database offers a good read write speed thus helping users to retrieve chat logs as and when they need.

Amazon S3 bucket

Multimedia messages including audio, image, video are saved in Amazon S3 bucket. Registration for the app usage can be done in multiple ways including mobile number, email, user name password and social login.

As and when a user triggers a message, the app’s SDK sends a request to the Ejabbered server. In return the server checks for the availability of the recipient and if available, the delivery request is sent to the recipients SDK and then delivered. If the recipient is offline, the data is stored in the Ejabbered as message will be queued in the server.

Contus Fly Features

  • Group Chat
  • Offline Messages
  • Push Notifications
  • Presence
  • Social Integrations
  • Locations
  • Sync and Store
  • Voice Calling
  • Video Calling
  • Multimedia Sharing
  • Easy Screen Sharing
  • Fully Searchable
  • Secure
  • Support

Create Real Time Chat & IM Apps with Contus Fly

  • 100% Customizable Solutions
  • Multi Platforms Supports
  • Authenticates using Social Networks
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94 Comments on "How WhatsApp works and how to build a WhatsApp clone?"


Guest
Kaushal Prajapati
2 days 22 hours ago

Need Push notification integration in Our Ejabbered Server for android and ios.
If Help in Development of push notification part Will pay for it.

Guest
Prajmol
26 days 1 hour ago

Hello Ramanathan! I’m into the process of developing a chat app. This post has given me a lot of insights. Thanks a lot for sharing such one!

Guest
Doug
26 days 21 hours ago

Nice informative post!

Guest
Vignesh
2 months 10 days ago

Thanks for such a great article. This post gives a lot of technical knowledge to build a WhatsApp clone.!! Keep sharing..

Guest
Ryan
2 months 20 days ago

Hey Guys! Good info about building a whatsapp clone. Ok I would like to know does Your Contus Fly app support document sharing which could be much helpful when used for an enterprise team chat.

Admin
2 months 19 days ago

Hi Ryan,
Glad that you liked our post! Yes, it will support file sharing.