This tutorial assumes RabbitMQ is installed and running on localhost on standard port (5672). In case you use a different host, port or credentials, connections settings would require adjusting.

Where to get help

If you're having trouble going through this tutorial you can contact us through the mailing list.

RabbitMQ is a message broker: it accepts and forwards messages. You can think about it as a post office: when you put the mail that you want posting in a post box, you can be sure that Mr. Postman will eventually deliver the mail to your recipient. In this analogy, RabbitMQ is a post box, a post office and a postman.

The major difference between RabbitMQ and the post office is that it doesn't deal with paper, instead it accepts, stores and forwards binary blobs of data ‒ messages.

RabbitMQ, and messaging in general, uses some jargon.

  • Producing means nothing more than sending. A program that sends messages is a producer :

    digraph { bgcolor=transparent; truecolor=true; rankdir=LR; node [style="filled"]; // P1 [label="P", fillcolor="#00ffff"]; }

  • A queue is the name for a post box which lives inside RabbitMQ. Although messages flow through RabbitMQ and your applications, they can only be stored inside a queue. A queue is only bound by the host's memory & disk limits, it's essentially a large message buffer. Many producers can send messages that go to one queue, and many consumers can try to receive data from one queue. This is how we represent a queue:

    digraph { bgcolor=transparent; truecolor=true; rankdir=LR; node [style="filled"]; // subgraph cluster_Q1 { label="queue_name"; color=transparent; Q1 [label="{||||}", fillcolor="red", shape="record"]; }; }

  • Consuming has a similar meaning to receiving. A consumer is a program that mostly waits to receive messages:

    digraph { bgcolor=transparent; truecolor=true; rankdir=LR; node [style="filled"]; // C1 [label="C", fillcolor="#33ccff"]; }

Note that the producer, consumer, and broker do not have to reside on the same host; indeed in most applications they don't.

"Hello World"

(using the amqp.node client)

In this part of the tutorial we'll write two small programs in Javascript; a producer that sends a single message, and a consumer that receives messages and prints them out. We'll gloss over some of the detail in the amqp.node API, concentrating on this very simple thing just to get started. It's a "Hello World" of messaging.

In the diagram below, "P" is our producer and "C" is our consumer. The box in the middle is a queue - a message buffer that RabbitMQ keeps on behalf of the consumer.

(P) -> [|||] -> (C)

The amqp.node client library

RabbitMQ speaks multiple protocols. This tutorial uses AMQP 0-9-1, which is an open, general-purpose protocol for messaging. There are a number of clients for RabbitMQ in many different languages. We'll use the amqp.node client in this tutorial.

First, install amqp.node using npm:

npm install amqplib

Now we have amqp.node installed, we can write some code.


(P) -> [|||]

We'll call our message publisher (sender) send.js and our message consumer (receiver) receive.js. The publisher will connect to RabbitMQ, send a single message, then exit.

In send.js, we need to require the library first:

#!/usr/bin/env node

var amqp = require('amqplib/callback_api');

then connect to RabbitMQ server

amqp.connect('amqp://localhost', function(err, conn) {});

Next we create a channel, which is where most of the API for getting things done resides:

amqp.connect('amqp://localhost', function(err, conn) {
  conn.createChannel(function(err, ch) {});

To send, we must declare a queue for us to send to; then we can publish a message to the queue:

amqp.connect('amqp://localhost', function(err, conn) {
  conn.createChannel(function(err, ch) {
    var q = 'hello';

    ch.assertQueue(q, {durable: false});
    // Note: on Node 6 Buffer.from(msg) should be used
    ch.sendToQueue(q, new Buffer('Hello World!'));
    console.log(" [x] Sent 'Hello World!'");

Declaring a queue is idempotent - it will only be created if it doesn't exist already. The message content is a byte array, so you can encode whatever you like there.

Lastly, we close the connection and exit;

setTimeout(function() { conn.close(); process.exit(0) }, 500);

Here's the whole send.js script.

Sending doesn't work!

If this is your first time using RabbitMQ and you don't see the "Sent" message then you may be left scratching your head wondering what could be wrong. Maybe the broker was started without enough free disk space (by default it needs at least 200 MB free) and is therefore refusing to accept messages. Check the broker logfile to confirm and reduce the limit if necessary. The configuration file documentation will show you how to set disk_free_limit.


That's it for our publisher. Our consumer is pushed messages from RabbitMQ, so unlike the publisher which publishes a single message, we'll keep it running to listen for messages and print them out.

[|||] -> (C)

The code (in receive.js) has the same require as send:

#!/usr/bin/env node

var amqp = require('amqplib/callback_api');

Setting up is the same as the publisher; we open a connection and a channel, and declare the queue from which we're going to consume. Note this matches up with the queue that sendToQueue publishes to.

amqp.connect('amqp://localhost', function(err, conn) {
  conn.createChannel(function(err, ch) {
    var q = 'hello';

    ch.assertQueue(q, {durable: false});

Note that we declare the queue here, as well. Because we might start the consumer before the publisher, we want to make sure the queue exists before we try to consume messages from it.

We're about to tell the server to deliver us the messages from the queue. Since it will push us messages asynchronously, we provide a callback that will be executed when RabbitMQ pushes messages to our consumer. This is what Channel.consume does.

console.log(" [*] Waiting for messages in %s. To exit press CTRL+C", q);
ch.consume(q, function(msg) {
  console.log(" [x] Received %s", msg.content.toString());
}, {noAck: true});

Here's the whole receive.js script.

Putting it all together

Now we can run both scripts. In a terminal, from the rabbitmq-tutorials/javascript-nodejs/src/ folder, run the publisher:


then, run the consumer:


The consumer will print the message it gets from the publisher via RabbitMQ. The consumer will keep running, waiting for messages (Use Ctrl-C to stop it), so try running the publisher from another terminal.

Listing queues

You may wish to see what queues RabbitMQ has and how many messages are in them. You can do it (as a privileged user) using the rabbitmqctl tool:

sudo rabbitmqctl list_queues

On Windows, omit the sudo:

rabbitmqctl.bat list_queues

Time to move on to part 2 and build a simple work queue.