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Utility functions for working with Redis streams in Clojure using carmine.

Redis does a brilliant job of being fast with loads of features and Carmine does a brilliant job of exposing all the low-level Redis commands in Clojure. Working with Redis' streams API requires quite a lot of interaction to produce desirable high-level behaviour, and that is what this library provides.

carmine-streams allows you to create streams and consumer groups, consume streams reliably, deal with failed consumers and unprocessable messages and gain visibility on the state of it all with a few simple functions.

Clojars Project


Consumer groups and consumers

Naming things

Consistent naming conventions for streams, groups and consumers:

(require '[carmine-streams.core :as cs])
(def conn-opts {})

(def stream (cs/stream-name "sensor-readings"))        ;; -> stream/sensor-readings
(def group (cs/group-name "persist-readings"))         ;; -> group/persist-readings
(def consumer (cs/consumer-name "persist-readings" 0)) ;; -> consumer/persist-readings/0

Writing to streams

A convenience function for writing Clojure maps to streams:

(car/wcar conn-opts (cs/xadd-map (cs/stream-name "maps") "*" {:foo "bar"}))

and parsing them back:

(let [[[_stream messages]] (car/wcar conn-opts (car/xread :count 1 :streams (cs/stream-name "maps") "0-0"))]
  (map (fn [[_id kvs]] (cs/kvs->map kvs))

;; [{:foo "bar"}]

Consumer group creation

Idempotent consumer group creation:

(cs/create-consumer-group! conn-opts stream group)

Consumer creation

Start an infinite loop that consumes from the group:

(def opts {:block 5000
           :control-fn cs/default-control-fn})

 (cs/start-consumer! conn-opts
                     #(println "Yum yum, tasty message" %)

Consumer behaviour is as follows:

  • Calls the callback for every message received, with the message coerced into a keywordized map, and acks the message. If the callback throws an exception the message will not be acked
  • Processes all pending messages on startup before processing new ones
  • Processes new messages until either:
    • The consumer is unblocked (see unblock-consumers!)
    • There are no messages delivered during the time it was blocked waiting for a new message, upon which it will check for pending messages and begin processing the backlog if any are found, returning to wait for new messages when the backlog is cleared

Options to the consumer consist of:

  • :block ms to block waiting for a new message before checking the backlog
  • :control-fn allows you to control the execution flow of the consumer (see below)

Control flow

The default control flow is as follows:

  • Exit on errors reading from Redis (including unblocking)
  • Recur on successful message callback
  • Recur on failed message callback

You can provide your own :control-fn callback to change or add additional behaviour to the consumer. The control-fn may do whatever it pleases but must return either :exit or :recur. See default-control-fn for an example.

Stopping consumers

You should first interrupt the threads that your consumers are running on. The interrupt will be checked before each read operation and the consumer will exit gracefully.

In addition you should send an unblock message. This will allow the consumer to stop any blocking read of redis it might currently be performing in order to exit.

Sending an unblock message to blocked consumers can be done like this:

;; unblock all consumers matching consumer/*
(cs/unblock-consumers! conn-opts)

;; unblock only consumers matching consumer/persist-readings/*
(cs/unblock-consumers! conn-opts (cs/consumer-name "persist-readings"))

;; unblock all consumers of group
(cs/unblock-consumers! conn-opts stream group)


All stream keys

;; all stream keys matching stream/*
(cs/all-stream-keys conn-opts) ;; -> #{"stream/sensor-readings"}

;; all stream keys matching persist-*
(cs/all-stream-keys conn-opts "persist-*")

All group names for a stream

(cs/group-names conn-opts stream) ;; -> #{"group/persist-readings"}

Stats for a consumer group

(cs/group-stats conn-opts stream group)

{:name "group/my-group",
 :consumers ({:name "consumer/my-consumer/0", :pending 1, :idle 102}
             {:name "consumer/my-consumer/1", :pending 0, :idle 208}
             {:name "consumer/my-consumer/2", :pending 0, :idle 311}),
 :pending 1,
 :last-delivered-id "0-2",
 :unconsumed 0}

Recovering from failures

Garbage collect consumer groups to reallocate pending messages from dead consumers to live ones, send undeliverable messages to a Dead Letter Queue (DLQ) and deregister dead consumers from the group.

When a message is not acknowledged by the consumer (i.e. your consumer died halfway through, or the callback threw an exception) it remains pending and its idle time is how long it has been since it was first read.

These two possibilities are handled differently:

  • If your consumer died and remains dead
    • The delivery count will remain at 1 and the idle time will increase
    • When the idle time has increased enough that it's obvious the consumer can't still be processing it we want to send it to another consumer that is alive - this is called rebalancing
    • The :rebalance option specifies
      • The :idle time necessary for a consumer/message to be considered dead before its messages are sent to another consumer
      • The :siblings option, when :active will apply the same test of idleness to sibling workers before claiming messages for them
      • The :distribution option decides how to distribute work to the siblings, the choices are:
        • :random random
        • :lra least-recently-active (with the highest idle time)
        • :mra most-recently-active (with the lowest idle time)
    • The :deregister option specifies
      • The :idle time necessary for a consumer to be considered dead and not coming back, whereupon it will be removed from the group
  • If the message was bad and the worker throws an exception trying to process it
    • It will remain in the backlog which the worker will attempt to process during quiet times
    • The delivery count will increase on each attempt
    • When it reaches a particular value we will decide it cannot be processed and send it to a DLQ for later inspection
    • The :dlq option specifies
      • The number of :deliveries required before the message is considered unprocessable
      • The name of the :stream to write the message metadata to
(cs/gc-consumer-group! conn-opts stream group {:rebalance {:idle 60000
                                                           :siblings :active
                                                           :distribution :random}
                                               :dlq {:deliveries 5
                                                     :stream "dlq"}
                                               :deregister {:idle 120000})

;; returns
[{:action :dlq, :id "0-1", :consumer "consumer/messages/0"}
 {:action :rebalance, :id "0-2", :consumer "consumer/messages/0", :claimant "consumer/messages/1"}
 {:action :noop, :id "0-3", :consumer "consumer/messages/1"}]

GC behaviour is as follows:

  • Checks the pending messages for every consumer in the group
  • Any message exceeding the threshold for the DLQ is sent to the DLQ
  • Any remaining messages exceeding the threshold for rebalancing is rebalanced to other consumers based on the options
  • Any remaining messages remain pending for their original consumer

Note that both rebalance and dlq criteria can specify :idle and :deliveries and that a message said to be exceeding the criteria must have values exceeding one OR the other of the thresholds. By not specifying the threshold the criteria will not be compared.

You should run this function periodically, choosing values which trade off the following characteristics:

  • What the maximum latency for a single message should be before it either fails or succeeds
  • How many times you should attempt to rebalance a message before considering that it is killing consumers or is unprocessable

Clearing pending messages

If you need to clear pending messages from all consumers, or a particular one, you can use one of these:

(cs/clear-pending! conn-opts stream group) ;; clears pending messages for all consumers

(cs/clear-pending! conn-opts stream group "consumer-1") ;; clears pending messages for 'consumer-1'

You may want to pair this with trimming the stream (caveat: this can result in data loss):

(car/wcar conn-opts (car/xtrim stream MAXLEN 0))


Message ids

Get the next smallest message id (useful for iterating through ranges as per xrange or xpending:

(cs/next-id "0-1") ;; -> 0-2


Start a normal REPL. You will need redis-server v5+ running on the default port to run the tests.



Copyright © 2020 oliyh

This program and the accompanying materials are made available under the terms of the Eclipse Public License 2.0 which is available at

This Source Code may also be made available under the following Secondary Licenses when the conditions for such availability set forth in the Eclipse Public License, v. 2.0 are satisfied: GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version, with the GNU Classpath Exception which is available at

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