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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. A single consumer can also process messages from multiple streams in priority order.

Clojars Project

Upgrade notice

:fire: Version 0.2.0 was recently released with breaking API changes. Please read the Upgrade guide for more information.


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 xadd-map for writing Clojure maps to streams:

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

and parsing them back with kvs->map:

(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)

Or create a consumer group on multiple streams at once:

(cs/create-consumer-group! conn-opts [stream1 stream2 stream3] group)

This function also de-registers idle consumers on the group. The amount of time before a consumer is considered idle can be configured:

(cs/create-consumer-group! conn-opts stream group "$" {:deregister-idle (* 5 60 1000)})

Consumer creation

Start an infinite loop that consumes from the group:

(def opts {:block 5000
           :control-fn cs/default-control-fn
           :claim-opts {:min-idle-time (* 60 1000)
                        :max-deliveries 10
                        :message-rescue-count 100
                        :dlq {:stream (cs/stream-name "dlq")
                              :include-message? true}}})

(def consumer
   (fn []
     (cs/start-multi-consumer! conn-opts
                               #(println "Yum yum, tasty message" %)

(.start consumer)

N.B. carmine-streams does not have any opinion on threads, but it is recommended to avoid Clojure's future as it is unsuited to long-running tasks that do not return values (like carmine-stream's consumers).

Consumer behaviour when there is only one stream 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. If this happens, 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.

When checking for pending messages, if it has been sufficiently long since the last check, it will check for idle messages on the backlog of other consumers and claim them, or putting messages on the dlq if they have been retried too many times. This ensures that even if a consumer dies, its messages will still be processed.

Consumers with multiple streams

A consumer can also be passed multiple streams:

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

(def consumer
   (fn []
     (cs/start-multi-consumer! conn-opts
                               [stream1 stream2 stream3]
                               #(println "Yum yum, tasty message" %)

(.start consumer)

When passed multiple streams, the consumer will behave similarly to when it is passed a single stream, except it will process messages from the first stream, then the second stream, then the third, etc. If a new message arrives on a higher priority stream while it is receiving messages on a lower priority stream, it will process the higher priority message as soon as it has finished processing its current message.

Options to the consumer consist of:

  • :block ms to block waiting for a new message when there are no pending messages on any of the streams
  • :control-fn a function for controlling the flow of operation, see default-control-fn
  • :claim-opts an options map for configuring how messages are claimed from other consumers. See Recovering from failures for available options.

Each stream being processed by a multi-stream consumer will be processed as shown in this flowchart: consumer flowchart

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.

(.interrupt consumer)

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

Live consumers are responsible for finding pending messages from dead consumers and claiming them so that they can be processed. This functionality is included in the start-multi-consumer! function, which periodically checks for such messages in addition to sending undeliverable messages to a Dead Letter Queue (DLQ).

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:

  • :min-idle-time the minimum time (ms) a message has to be idle before it can be claimed. Also the minimum amount of time between checking for abandoned messages

  • :max-deliveries the maximum number of times a message should be delivered (attempted to be processed) before it is put in the dlq

  • :message-rescue-count the number of message to attempt to claim in one go

  • :dlq dead letter queue options map. Options are:

    • :stream the stream to which poison messages are added
    • :include-message? set this to false if you don't want to include original message content in the dlq message
  • 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 another consumer that is alive to claim it.
    • The :min-idle-time option in the :claim-opts map inside the start-multi-consumer! options is the time necessary for a consumer/message to be considered dead before its messages may be claimed by another consumer. This option is also used as the minimum amount of time between checking for abandoned messages.
  • 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 appropriate entry in the delivery counts hash-map[^1] 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 :max-deliveries key of :claim-opts is the number of deliveries required before the message is considered unprocessable or 'poison'.
    • The :dlq option of :claim-opts specifies
      • The name of the :stream to write the message metadata to
      • Whether to :include-message? data inside the DLQ message.
  • The :claim-opts map also specifies the :message-rescue-count: the number of messages to inspect from other consumers during a periodic check.

[^1]: When a consumer reads from multiple streams, redis's inbuilt message delivery counts are no longer useful, so a separate redis hash is used to store delivery counts for a consumer group. This is stored under a key generated using (cs/group-name->delivery-counts-key group).

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

Get the largest id that is smaller than this one:

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


Start a normal REPL. You will need redis-server v7.0.0+ 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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