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A gearman worker which enables efficient broadcast communication

Project description


A gearman worker which enables efficient broadcast communication

Fanout Worker

Gearman has no in-built way to copy jobs to multiple workers. This worker will do that to support the common messaging pattern known as “Fanout”

Once running, the fanout worker will subscribe to the queues “register_fanout_subscriber” and “fanout”.

subscribe_fanout unsubscribe_fanout

These queues will have a JSON payload consisting of a mapping with two keys: topic, client_id. The client_id will be kept as a set under the topic for use in sending messages to the appropriate subscriber queue. It should be unique for every intended recipient queue for every fanout request. Usually this will be unique per host.


This queue will have a JSON payload consisting of a mapping with two keys: topic, payload. The topic will be used to search for a list of subscriber ids. For each subscriber_id found, a copy of the payload will be sent to the queue named topic_subscriber_id. So if we had two subscribers to “officememos” with ids “bob” and “alice”, then a message to fanout with this payload:

{"topic": "officememos",
 "payload": "please go home early today."}

Optionally one can add a ‘unique’ key to make use of Gearman’s unique/coalescing features. Also the ‘background’ key can be used to set a truthy value, which will tell gearhorn not to wait for receivers before moving on to more messages.

Would result in the worker sending a copy of the payload to the queues “officememos_bob” and “officememos_alice”.


In order to match up topics with subscribers workers must share a list of subscribers for each topic. The mapping is maintained in a backend data store. Any time new registration events are seen the list is updated in that store and a message is sent to the __matchmaking topic. Workers automatically add and remove themselves to/from the __matchmaking list in order to ensure they’re informed and able to clear cache whenever the canonical list is updated. Workers that fail violently must be manually removed.

Failed Idea

The following was idea #1, and fails to be any more efficient than just runnint Redis as a pub/sub and direct comm backend. It remains here as a reminder not to reimplement Redis.

The expected way to use it is to have a gearman client that wants to receive broadcasts request the given broadcast function with a unique ID that is the last seen sequence ID. When this daemon receives that work, it looks for any items with sequence number greater than this ID, and if it finds them, reply with a json payload of:

{"sequence": 2,
 "payload": "foobarbaz"}

Clients would consume this, and then submit a new job with the new_seq. This allows a stream of sync jobs to become a stream of broadcasted payloads with a good chance of a client receiving all sequences.


  • True functional tests

  • Make all the things configurable

    • Work queue name(s)

    • Tuning backlog and flush frequency

  • Consider a work queue that workers can use to share the current sequence they should be using.

    • Would this be too racy or given the “best effort” is it enough to just try hard?

    • Do we need a UUID of some kind just to allow clients to detect if all the workers went away and sequences reset at 0?

  • Add a client helper module which implements the sequence fetching to make it easier to write a consumer in python

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