Archive for the ‘New Features’ Category

RabbitMQ 2.7.0 and 2.7.1 are released

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

The previous release of RabbitMQ (2.7.0) brought with it a better way of managing plugins, one-stop URI connecting by clients, thread-safe consumers in the Java client, and a number of performance improvements and bug-fixes. The latest release (2.7.1) is essentially a bug-fix release; though it also makes RabbitMQ compatible with Erlang R15B and enhances some of the management interface. The previous release didn't get a blog post, so I've combined both releases in this one.  (These are my own personal remarks and are NOT binding; errors of commission or omission are entirely my own -- Steve Powell.) (more…)

Performance of Queues: when less is more

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Since the new persister arrived in RabbitMQ 2.0.0 (yes, it's not so new anymore), Rabbit has had a relatively good story to tell about coping with queues that grow and grow and grow and reach sizes that preclude them from being able to be held in RAM. Rabbit starts writing out messages to disk fairly early on, and continues to do so at a gentle rate so that by the time RAM gets really tight, we've done most of the hard work already and thus avoid sudden bursts of writes. Provided your message rates aren't too high or too bursty, this should all happen without any real impact on any connected clients.

Some recent discussion with a client made us return to what we'd thought was a fairly solved problem and has prompted us to make some changes. (more…)

High Availability in RabbitMQ: solving part of the puzzle

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

In RabbitMQ 2.6.0 we introduced Highly Available queues. These necessitated a new extension to AMQP, and a fair amount of documentation, but to date, little has been written on how they work. (more…)

rabbitmq-tracing – a UI for the firehose

Friday, September 9th, 2011

While the firehose is quite a cool feature, I always thought that it was a shame we didn't have a simple GUI to go on top and make it accessible to system administrators. So I wrote one. You can download it here.


Federation plugin preview release

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Note: this blog post talks about the federation plugin preview that was released for RabbitMQ 2.5.0. If you're using 2.6.0 or later, federation is part of the main release; get it the same way you would any other plugin.

Another day, another new plugin release :) Today it's federation. If you want to skip this post and just download the plugin, go here. The detailed instructions are here.

The high level goal of federation is to scale out publish / subscribe messaging across WANs and administrative domains.

To do this we introduce the concept of the federation exchange. A federation exchange acts like a normal exchange of a given type (it can emulate the routing logic of any installed exchange type), but also knows how to connect to upstream exchanges (which might in turn themselves be federation exchanges). (more…)

Sender-selected distribution

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

RabbitMQ 2.4.0 introduced an extension that allows publishers to specify multiple routing keys in the CC and BCC message headers. The BCC header is removed from the message prior to delivery. Direct and topic exchanges are the only standard exchange types that make use of routing keys, therefore the routing logic of this feature only works with these exchange types.

Why would I want this?

1. Custom routing logic

You would normally resort to an external or custom exchange when routing rules are too complex to be expressed with standard exchanges. CC/BCC headers allow a peer to implement potentially complex routing rules by populating these headers with the matching routes.

Imagine a RabbitMQ broker receiving Java Log4J messages and that we are interested in messages at level SEVERE that arrive outside office-hours. This assumes an AMQP Log4J handler that forwards log messages to a RabbitMQ exchange and a client (perhaps connected to a pager) that retrieves them from a queue. Let us assume that the queue is titled "out-of-hours-emergencies" and declared by the pager client.

The problem is how to selectively route messages satisfying these criteria (severity and time). The Java logging API has sufficient sophistication to perform some selective processing and filtering in the log handler before the messages reach the broker, so the problem could potentially be solved upstream from the broker in simple cases. For the purposes of this example we'll want to manage the routing across all log producers centrally in the  broker.

The log handler could decorate the AMQP messages with information about the log events by placing information in the headers. Messages could then be routed according to those headers with the built-in amq.headers exchange. So the first constraint could potentially be met without resorting to additional features, provided that the event severity appears in a message header. The second constraint of our requirement (only messages received outside office-hours) cannot be satisfied with a built-in exchange in the same way. The built-in exchange types can only perform routing based on the contents of a message, not when it arrives. Even if the messages contained a timestamp, built-in exchanges have no way of matching by inequality.

We can solve this problem by relying on a smart consumer that populates the BCC headers before republishing received messages. The relevant criteria in our example would be "out-of-hours-emergencies", so the smart consumer adds this to the BCC header before republishing severe log messages that arrive out of hours. It could use any information at its disposal to make that determination, including date, time, message contents or information from other sources. Any number of criteria can selectively be added to the BCC header in the same way. A queue with the same name will receive all messages from our smart consumer that republished messages with this string in the BCC header. At this point the pager client retrieves messages from the "out-of-hours-emergencies" queue and pages an operator.

This technique can route messages that are encoded in a domain-specific format. A smart peer with knowledge of the format could unpack the message, populate the BCC header with a relevant field and republish. The smart peer is acting in a similar way as an external exchange.

2. Confidential routing

This is useful in cases where the routing key is a secure token which producers and consumers agree beforehand. Wild-cards make topic exchanges useless in this scenario. Messages published with a routing key set to "topsecret.eyesonly" can be obtained by any consumer that binds with a wild-card "#".

Producers can send messages to arbitrary subsets of consumers by populating the BCC header with the routing keys of the selected recipients. The recipients will have no way of learning the identities of other recipients, because the BCC header is removed from the message prior to delivery.

Routing information may still leak in other ways, such as the Management & Monitoring plugin or the rabbitmqctl administration utility. These will need appropriate protection.

Can't AMQP do this already?

While it's not possible to remove headers, it is possible to obtain some comparable effects using only standard AMQP features.

  • Producers can send multiple messages, each with a different routing key. This wastes network bandwidth and broker resources, because the broker cannot optimise the storage of the duplicate messages.
  • Producers can declare a temporary exchange, with a temporary binding for each intended recipient. This a great deal of effort that needs to be repeated each time the set of recipients changes.

How do I use this?

Be sure to use RabbitMQ version 2.4.0 or later. Any AMQP client can be used. Set the CC or BCC headers to the list of routing keys. The header value must be an AMQP array type, even if it only contains a single value. The message will be routed to all destinations according to the combined routings keys in the CC and BCC headers, as well as the basic.publish method ("routingkey1", "routingkey2" and "routingkey3" in this example).

Java sample code:

1:          BasicProperties props  = new BasicProperties();
2:          Map<String, Object> headers = new HashMap<String, Object>();
3:          List<String> ccList = new ArrayList<String>();
4:          ccList.add("routingkey2");
5:          ccList.add("routingkey3");
6:          headers.put("CC", ccList);
7:          props.setHeaders(headers);
8:          channel.basicPublish(exchange, "routingkey1", props, payload);

What are the interoperability implications?

Any AMQP client can make use of this feature. Producers require nothing more than the ability to set headers in messages.

The use of any RabbitMQ-specific extensions makes it harder to swap RabbitMQ for a different AMQP broker - sender-selected distribution is no exception.

If your application already makes use of headers named CC or BCC then you should use different keys or contact the RabbitMQ team for assistance.

Introducing Publisher Confirms

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

In many messaging scenarios, you must not lose messages.  Since AMQP gives few guarantees regarding message persistence/handling, the traditional way to do this is with transactions, which can be unacceptably slow.  To remedy this problem, we introduce an extension to AMQP in the form of Lightweight Publisher Confirms. (more…)

Who are you? Authentication and authorisation in RabbitMQ 2.3.1

Monday, February 7th, 2011

RabbitMQ 2.3.1 introduces a couple of new plugin mechanisms, allowing you much more control over how users authenticate themselves against Rabbit, and how we determine what they are authorised to do. There are three questions of concern here:

  1. How does the client prove its identity over the wire?
  2. Where do users and authentication information (e.g. password hashes) live?
  3. Where does permission information live?

Question 1 is answered in the case of AMQP by SASL - a simple protocol for pluggable authentication mechanisms that is embedded within AMQP (and various other protocols). SASL lets a client and a server negotiate and use an authentication mechanism, without the "outer" protocol having to know any of the details about how authentication works.

SASL offers a number of "mechanisms". Since the beginning, RabbitMQ has supported the PLAIN mechanism, which basically consists of sending a username and password over the wire in plaintext (of course possibly the whole connection might be protected by SSL). It's also supported the variant AMQPLAIN mechanism (which is conceptually identical to PLAIN but slightly easier to implement if you have an AMQP codec lying around). RabbitMQ 2.3.1 adds a plugin system allowing you to add or configure more mechanisms, and we've written an example plugin which implements the SASL EXTERNAL mechanism. (more…)

Ruby AMQP 0.7 released!

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

I'm happy to announce that the AMQP 0.7 is released, as I promised in the previous blog post. So what are the changes?

AMQP 0.7 gem installation.

When you install the AMQP gem, you'll see changes of the current version. (How did I do that? With changelog gem and a bit of gemspec magic.)

Callback for MQ#queue

Synchronous API for Queue.Declare/Queue.Declare-Ok request/response was exposed via asynchronous callback:

channel =
fanout  = channel.fanout(:task_fanout)
channel.queue(:tasks) do |queue, message_count, consumer_count|
  puts "Queue #{} declared!"
  puts "Message count: #{message_count}"
  puts "Consumer count: #{consumer_count}"

Auto-named queues & not rewritting of anonymous entities in MQ#queues and MQ#exchanges

If a queue is declared with an empty name, the broker is supposed to generate random name. In previous versions of the Ruby AMQP this wasn't supported, because the synchronous API (waiting for Queue.Declare-Ok was missing). Not anymore:

channel =
channel.queue("") do |queue|
  puts "Queue with name #{} declared!"

# OUTPUT: Queue with name amq.gen-PfCGdyBA4Sr4rkZg3IN3Kw== declared!

The same should apply for exchanges, but this isn't supported by the current version of RabbitMQ.

Also, in the previous AMQP versions, the MQ#queues, MQ#exchanges and similar was just a hash, hence if given entity was anonymous (the name was nil), and if the collection already included another anonymous instance, then the one which was already in the collection was rewritten.

Callback for MQ::Queue#bind

MQ::Queue#bind can take a callback, as well as MQ#queue now can:

channel =
fanout  = channel.fanout(:task_fanout)
channel.queue(:tasks).bind(fanout) do |queue|
  puts "Queue #{} was bound!"


Thanks to majek, author of the Puka AMQP client for Python, you can use URL instead of option hash as an argument for AMQP.connect and AMQP.start:

# Will resolve to: {vhost: "/", port: 5671, ssl: true}

AMQP.start("amqp://[email protected]:1111/")
# Will resolve to: {user: "botanicus", vhost: "/", host: "localhost", port: 1111, ssl: false}


The default exchange is a direct exchange with an empty name where all the queues are automatically bound (and you can't bind there anything manually). Do not confuse the default exchange with which is only a predefined direct exchange without any "magic" abilities).

Fail if an entity is re-declared with different options

Rather than wait for the server, than if possible we let this fail on the client, so the user gets more descriptive error message:

channel =
channel.queue(:tasks, auto_delete: true)
channel.queue(:tasks, auto_delete: false)

# Exception: There is already an instance called tasks with options
{:queue => :tasks, :nowait => true, :auto_delete => true},
you can't define the same instance with different options ({:queue => :tasks,
:nowait => true, :auto_delete => false})! (MQ::IncompatibleOptionsError)

Don't reconnect if the credentials are invalid

AMQP reconnects automatically if the connection failed. It did try to reconnect even on an error like providing invalid credentials. I changed it to register the reconnect hook after the connection is actually established, so if for whatever reason the connection fails, it won't try to reconnect.

rSpec 2 specs

This is still work in progress, you can check the spec/ directory. Huge thanks to arvicco and michaelklishin for their work on this!


We closed nearly all issues at tmm1/amqp repository. Please do not report any further bugs there, use ruby-amqp/amqp instead.

Friendlier environment for contributors

We use bundler now, so if you want to contribute or just run the tests, just clone the repo, run bundle install and voila, that's it! There's also bin/irb for easier debugging.

Speaking about them, I'd really want to thank all the contributors, their work really helped to get the AMQP gem where it is now. Since the beginning 22 people contributed to the project, and 5 of them have more than 5 commits. Check the CONTRIBUTORS file for more details!

Plans for AMQP 0.8

The next 0.8 release will bring some major API changes: there won't be two separate constants MQ and AMQP, but only the second one. The MQ class will become AMQP::Channel, so we will be compliant with the official AMQP terminology and we also want to introduce support for AMQP 0.9.1 via the AMQ-Protocol gem.


Any comments, ideas? You're always welcome to drop by at Jabber MUC [email protected], and tell us what do you think!

AMQP 1.0 prototyping

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

We have been prototyping support for a new protocol, as is our wont. This one is called "AMQP 1.0 R0", and it is the new issue from the AMQP working group (of which RabbitMQ, and latterly VMware, are a member). The "R0" indicates that it's the first revision of a recommendation. The specification is incomplete: there are many TODOs, and to a large extent it is unproven. Those two facts are part of what prompted this prototyping.

The prototype code is mirrored at github: It is built just the same as all our plugins.

The AMQP 1.0 R0 specification differs from the specification of previous versions of AMQP, in that it does not define a broker model; i.e., it doesn't define exchanges queues and bindings, or their equivalents. The protocol is really only about transferring messages from one agent to another, and then agreeing on what the outcome was. That means it is amenable to bolting on to a message broker implementation, among other uses -- the idea is that one can adapt an existing model to suit.

In our case, the incumbent model is that of AMQP 0-9-1, with some generalisations and extensions (for example, chained bindings). Our target with the prototype is therefore to be able to get something useful done with both 1.0 clients and 0-9-1 clients connected at the same time.

Well, the good news is, we've achieved that. In fact the plugin can be set up to replace Rabbit's usual network listener, and will happily talk to AMQP 0-8, 0-9-1, and 1.0 clients. We did have to do some invention along the way, and there are some parts of the specification that we are conspicuously not implementing. These will be detailed in the README soon.

One large part of the invention is to fill in semantics where the specification is silent. Some of these are detailed in this client-broker protocol work we did for the AMQP working group. We're hoping the prototyping will help fill this out some more.

Next week I'll be taking our prototype to the AMQP 1.0 "Connectathon", where it'll be tested against other implementations of the core protocol (not all of which are open source). Again, this will help to flush out barriers to interoperability in the specification.