Introducing Push Notifications

Push notifications are a way for websites to send small messages to users when the user is not on the site. iOS and Android devices already support their own push notification services, but we want to make notifications available to the whole web. We’re making prototypes and designing the API right now and want to share our progress.

How it works

  1. The website gets a URL where it can send notifications to the user. The URL points to the Notification Service, and is a secret between the user and the website.
  2. The site sends a notification to the Notification Service.
  3. The Notification Service delivers the message to Firefox on the desktop, on Android, on Boot to Gecko, or on iOS through Firefox Home; we’ll find the right place to deliver the message.

To start sending push notifications, a website needs to ask the user for permission. Here’s some example code:

var notification = navigator.mozNotification;
if (notification && notification.requestRemotePermission) {
  // Ask the user to allow notifications.
  var request = notification.requestRemotePermission();
  request.onsuccess = function() {
    var url = request.result;
    console.log('New push URL: ' + url);
    // We got a new push URL, store it on the server.'/push-urls/', {url: url});

The notification API will live at navigator.mozNotification until it gets standardized. First we get the API object and check that it exists. If it’s there we ask the user for permission to send notifications using notification.requestRemotePermission(), which returns an object we use to watch for events.

If the user grants permission, the browser will talk to the Notification Service and grab a new URL that links our site to the user. Every site/user pair gets a unique URL.

The URL is available in the onsuccess callback as request.result and should be sent back to the server and stored for future use.

On the Server

Now that we have a URL, we can send messages from our servers to the Notification Service.

POST /some-queue-url HTTP/1.1
Content-Type: application/json

{"iconUrl": "",
 "title": "Your package has shipped.",
 "body": "We shipped your package at 10am this morning.",
 "actionUrl": "",
 "replaceId": "order-status"}

Once the notification is in the system, we’ll deliver it to the recipient on all the devices they have Firefox installed, but we’ll try not to show duplicate notifications on different devices.

For a more detailed description, please check out our wiki page.

Update: If you’d like to give feedback please email me, find me on twitter, or reply to this post on