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I'm fairly new to IPFS and I was wondering how complex the files that you host in IPFS can be?

Can you keep an event listener continually listening for input without downtime? Can you retrieve constant inputs, process them and send back an output?

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Files on ipfs are immutable, so you can't really store the state there. However, ipfs does have the pubsub protocol, which allows transient real time communication between clients.

But there you have the opposite problem instead, that the communication is transient and only available as long as the clients are open. There is also currently no authentication of users for that protocol.

As for your first question, you can host however complex files you want on ipfs, the protocol doesn't care.

The only problem is if you want to update data. If you have a central source of the updates, you can use e.g. dnslink to link to your updates. But if you want to share user input with other users permanently (like almost all web apps do), you'll probably either need a centralized server/db or the much more expensive option of storing data on a blockchain (hashes would be enough, the actual content can be hosted with ipfs, but every update is still expensive on most blockchains).

Also note that you will still need to host the files yourself or pay someone to host them for you with ipfs, so that is also an important factor when it comes to cost. Traditional hosting will almost certainly be cheaper and will usually give much better free tiers compared to ipfs pinning services. That said, if you need the immutability and content-addressing (e.g. since it's referenced from blockchain, so it should be permanent), it can certainly be useful, especially since many people can trustlessly help with the hosting.

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