Developers are increasingly deploying web applications which require real-time bidirectional updates, a use case which does not naturally align with the original client-server architecture of the web. Many solutions have arisen to address this need over the preceding decades, including HTTP polling, Server-Sent Events, and WebSockets. This paper investigates this ecosystem and reports on the prevalence, benefits, and drawbacks of these technologies, with a particular focus on WebSockets. We crawl the Tranco Top 1 Million websites to build a client-side dataset to study real-time updates in the wild. We find that HTTP Polling remains significantly more common than WebSockets, and WebSocket adoption appears to have stagnated in the part 2-3 years. When WebSockets are used, the prescribed best practices for securing them are often disregarded. We investigate and discuss some of the possible reasons for this slowing adoption. We make our dataset available in the hopes that it may help inform the development of future real-time solutions for the web.

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