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Channel is a route for publication messages. Clients can subscribe to channel to receive events related to this channel – new publications, join/leave events etc. Also client must be subscribed on channel to get channel presence or history information.

Channel is just a string - news, comments are valid channel names.

Channel is an ephemeral entity – you don’t need to create it explicitly. Channel created automatically by Centrifugo as soon as first client subscribes to it. And as soon as last subscriber leaves channel - it’s automatically deleted.

Channel name rules

Only ASCII symbols must be used in channel string.

Channel name length is limited by 255 characters by default (can be changed via configuration file option channel_max_length).

Several symbols in channel names are reserved for Centrifugo internal needs:

  • : – for namespace channel boundary (see below)
  • $ – for private channel prefix (see below)
  • # – for user channel boundary (see below)
  • * – for future Centrifugo needs
  • & – for future Centrifugo needs
  • / – for future Centrifugo needs

namespace channel boundary (:)

: – is a channel namespace boundary.

If channel is public:chat - then Centrifugo will apply options to this channel from channel namespace with name public.

private channel prefix ($)

If channel starts with $ then it considered private. Subscription on private channel must be properly signed by your web application. Read special chapter in docs about private channel subscriptions.

user channel boundary (#)

# – is a user channel boundary. This is a separator to create private channels for users (user limited channels) without sending POST request to your web application. For example if channel is news#42 then only user with ID 42 can subscribe on this channel (Centrifugo knows user ID as clients provide it in connection credentials).

Moreover you can provide several user IDs in channel name separated by comma: dialog#42,43 – in this case only user with ID 42 and user with ID 43 will be able to subscribe on this channel.

This is useful for channels with static allowed users, for example for user personal messages channel, for dialog channel between certainly defined users. As soon as you need dynamic user access to channel this channel type does not suit well.