A job queue and scheduler written in Go, backed by Postgres, and available over HTTP
Go Makefile
Latest commit 3bdca53 Feb 16, 2017 @ianmdawson ianmdawson committed on GitHub Merge pull request #14 from kevinburke/update-build-matrix
Add Go 1.8 to build matrix



This holds the code for a scheduler and a job queue written in Go and backed by Postgres.

The goals/features of this project are:

  • Visibility into the system using a tool our team is familiar with (Postgres)
  • Correctness - jobs shouldn't get stuck, or dequeued twice, unless that's desirable
  • Good memory performance - with 300 dequeuers, the server and worker take about 30MB in total.
  • No long-running database queries, or open transactions
  • All queue actions have an HTTP API.
  • All enqueue/dequeue actions are idempotent - it's OK if any part of the system gets restarted

It might not be the most performant, but it should be easy to use and deploy!

Server Endpoints

The only supported content type for uploads and responses is JSON.

Create a job type

To start enqueueing and dequeueing work, you need to create a job type. Define a job type with a name, a delivery strategy (idempotent == "at_least_once", not idempotent == "at_most_once"), and a concurrency - the maximum number of jobs that can be in flight at once. If the job is idempotent, you can add "attempts" - the number of times to try to send the job to the downstream server before giving up.

POST /v1/jobs
    "id": "invoice-shipments",
    "delivery_strategy": "at_least_once",
    "attempts": 3,
    "concurrency": 5

This returns a models.Job on success.

Enqueue a new job

Once you have a job type, you can enqueue new jobs. Note the client is responsible for generating a UUID.

PUT /v1/jobs/invoice-shipments/job_282227eb-3c76-4ef7-af7e-25dff933077f
    "data": {
        "shipmentId": "shp_123",
    "id": "job_282227eb-3c76-4ef7-af7e-25dff933077f",
    "run_after": "2016-01-11T18:26:26.000Z",
    "expires_at": "2016-01-11T20:26:26.000Z"

This inserts a record into the queued_jobs table and returns a models.QueuedJob. The client can and should retry in the event of failure.

You can put any valid JSON in the data field; we'll send this to the downstream worker.

There are two special fields - run_after indicates the earliest possible time this job can run (or null to indicate it can run now), and expires_at indicates the latest possible time this job can run. If a job is dequeued after the expires_at date, we don't send it to the downstream worker, and insert it immediately into the archived_jobs table with status expired.

Record a job's success or failure

Once the downstream worker has completed work, record the status of the job by making a POST request to the same URI.

POST /v1/jobs/invoice-shipments/job_123 HTTP/1.1
    "status": "succeeded"
    "attempt": 3,

Note you must include the attempt number in your callback; we use this for idempotency, and to avoid stale writes. Valid values for status are "succeeded" or "failed". If a failed job is retryable, we'll insert the job back into the queued_jobs table with a run_after date set a small amount of time in the future. If a failed job is retryable but should not be retried, include "retryable": false in the body of the POST request, which will immediately archive the job.

Replay a job

This is handy if the initial job failed, the downstream server had an outage, or you want to re-run something on an adhoc basis.

POST /v1/jobs/invoice-shipments/job_123/replay HTTP/1.1

Will create a new UUID and enqueue the job to be run immediately. If you attempt to replay an expired job, the new job will be immediately archived with a status of "expired".

Get information about a job

GET /v1/jobs/invoice-shipments/job_123 HTTP/1.1

This looks in the queued_jobs table first, then the archived_jobs table, and returns whatever it finds. Note the fields in these tables don't match up 100%.

Server Authentication

By default, the server uses an in-memory secret for authentication. Call server.AddUser to add an authenticated user and password for the DefaultServer.

You can use your own authentication scheme with any code that satisifies the server.Authorizer interface:

// Authorizer can authorize the given user and token to access the API.
type Authorizer interface {
    Authorize(user string, token string) error

Then, get a http.Handler with your authorizer by calling

import "github.com/Shyp/rickover/server"

handler := server.Get(authorizer)
http.ListenAndServe(":9090", handler)

Processing jobs

When you get a job from the database, you can do whatever you want with it - your dequeuer just needs to satisfy the Worker interface.

// A Worker does some work with a QueuedJob.
type Worker interface {
    DoWork(*models.QueuedJob) error

A default Worker is provided as services.JobProcessor, which makes an API request to a downstream service. The default client is downstream.Client. You'll need to set the URL and password for the downstream service:

import "github.com/Shyp/rickover/dequeuer"
import "github.com/Shyp/rickover/services"

func main() {
    password := "hymanrickover"
    // Basic auth - username "jobs", password password
    jp := services.NewJobProcessor("http://downstream-service.example.com", password)

    pools, err := dequeuer.CreatePools(jp)

The downstream.Client will make a POST request to /v1/jobs/:job-name/:job-id:

POST /v1/jobs/invoice-shipment/job_123 HTTP/1.1
Host: downstream.shyp.com
Content-Type: application/json
Accept: application/json
    "data": {
        "shipmentId": "shp_123"
    "id": "job_123",
    "attempts": 3


All actions in the system are designed to be short-lived. When the downstream server has finished processing the job, it should make a callback to the Rickover server, reporting on the status of the job, with status set to succeeded or failed.

POST /v1/jobs/invoice-shipments/job_123 HTTP/1.1
Host: rickover.shyp.com
Content-Type: application/json
    "status": "succeeded"
    "attempt": 3,

If this request times out or errors, you can try it again; the attempt number is used to avoid making a stale update.

You can also report status of a job by calling services.HandleStatusCallback directly, with success or failure.

Failure Handling

If the downstream worker never hits the callback, the JobProcessor will time out after 5 minutes and mark the job as failed.

If the dequeuer gets killed while waiting for a response, we'll time out the job after 7 minutes, and mark it as failed. (This means the maximum allowable time for a job is 7 minutes.)


The homepage can embed an iframe of your choice, configurable via the HOMEPAGE_IFRAME_URL environment variable. We set up a Librato space with the metrics we send from this service, and embed that in the homepage:

Stuck jobs

If a dequeuer gets restarted after it's Acquire()d a job but before it can send it downstream, or if the downstream worker gets restarted before it can hit the callback, the job can get stuck in-progress indefinitely. Run WatchStuckJobs in a goroutine to periodically check for in-progress jobs and mark them as failed:

// This should be longer than the timeout in the JobProcessor
stuckJobTimeout := 7 * time.Minute
go services.WatchStuckJobs(1*time.Minute, stuckJobTimeout)

Database Table Layout

There are three tables, plus one for keeping track of ran migrations.

  • jobs - Contains information about a job's name, retry strategy, desired concurrency.
                          Table "public.jobs"
      Column       |           Type           |       Modifiers
 name              | text                     | not null
 delivery_strategy | delivery_strategy        | not null
 attempts          | smallint                 | not null
 concurrency       | smallint                 | not null
 created_at        | timestamp with time zone | not null default now()
    "jobs_pkey" PRIMARY KEY, btree (name)
Check constraints:
    "jobs_attempts_check" CHECK (attempts > 0)
    "jobs_concurrency_check" CHECK (concurrency >= 0)
Referenced by:
    TABLE "archived_jobs" CONSTRAINT "archived_jobs_name_fkey" FOREIGN KEY (name) REFERENCES jobs(name)
    TABLE "queued_jobs" CONSTRAINT "queued_jobs_name_fkey" FOREIGN KEY (name) REFERENCES jobs(name)
  • queued_jobs - The "hot" table, this contains rows that are scheduled to be dequeued. Should be small, so queries are fast.
                   Table "public.queued_jobs"
   Column   |           Type           |       Modifiers
 id         | uuid                     | not null
 name       | text                     | not null
 attempts   | smallint                 | not null
 run_after  | timestamp with time zone | not null
 expires_at | timestamp with time zone |
 created_at | timestamp with time zone | not null default now()
 updated_at | timestamp with time zone | not null default now()
 status     | job_status               | not null
 data       | jsonb                    | not null
    "queued_jobs_pkey" PRIMARY KEY, btree (id)
    "find_queued_job" btree (name, run_after) WHERE status = 'queued'::job_status
    "queued_jobs_created_at" btree (created_at)
Check constraints:
    "queued_jobs_attempts_check" CHECK (attempts >= 0)
Foreign-key constraints:
    "queued_jobs_name_fkey" FOREIGN KEY (name) REFERENCES jobs(name)
  • archived_jobs - Insert-only table containing historical records of all jobs. May grow very large.
            Table "public.archived_jobs"
   Column   |           Type           |       Modifiers
 id         | uuid                     | not null
 name       | text                     | not null
 attempts   | smallint                 | not null
 status     | archived_job_status      | not null
 created_at | timestamp with time zone | not null default now()
 data       | jsonb                    | not null
    "archived_jobs_pkey" PRIMARY KEY, btree (id)
Check constraints:
    "archived_jobs_attempts_check" CHECK (attempts >= 0)
Foreign-key constraints:
    "archived_jobs_name_fkey" FOREIGN KEY (name) REFERENCES jobs(name)

Example servers and dequeuers

Example server and dequeuer instances are stored in commands/server and commands/dequeuer. You will probably want to modify these to provide your own authentication scheme.

Configure the server

You can use the following variables to tune the server:

  • PG_SERVER_POOL_SIZE - Maximum number of database connections from an individual instance. Across every database connection in the cluster, you want to have the number of active Postgres connections equal to 2 * (num CPUs on the Postgres machine). Currently set to 15.

  • PORT - which port to listen on.

  • LIBRATO_TOKEN - This library uses Librato for metrics. This environment variable sets the Librato token for publishing.

  • DATABASE_URL - Postgres database URL. Currently only connections to the primary are allowed, there are not a lot of reads in the system, and all queries are designed to be short.

Configure the dequeuer

The number of dequeuers is determined by the number of entries in the jobs table. There is currently no way to adjust the number of dequeuers on the fly, you must update the database and then restart the worker process.

  • PG_WORKER_POOL_SIZE - How many workers to use. Workers hit Postgres in a busy loop asking for work with a SELECT ... FOR UPDATE, which skips rows if they are active, so queries from the worker tend to cause more active connections than those from the server.

  • DATABASE_URL - Postgres database URL. Currently only connections to the primary are allowed, there are not a lot of reads in the system, and all queries are designed to be short.

  • DOWNSTREAM_URL - When you dequeue a job, hit this URL to tell something to do some work.

  • DOWNSTREAM_WORKER_AUTH - Basic auth password for the downstream service (user is "jobs").

Local development

We use goose for database migrations. The test database is rickover_test and the development database is rickover. The authenticating user is rickover.

To run all migrations, run:

goose --env=test up

To get the database status:

goose --env=test status

You should also be able to use goose to run migrations in your production environment. Set the DATABASE_URL environment variable to a Postgres string, then use the cluster environment, for example

DATABASE_URL=$(heroku config:get DATABASE_URL --app myapp) goose --env=cluster up

Start the server

make serve

Will start the example server on port 8080.

Start the dequeuer

make dequeue

Will try to pull jobs out of the database and send them to the downstream worker. Note you will need to set DOWNSTREAM_WORKER_AUTH as the basic auth password for the downstream service (the user is hardcoded to "jobs"), and DOWNSTREAM_URL as the URL to hit when you have a job to dequeue.

Debugging variables

  • DEBUG_HTTP_TRAFFIC - Dump all incoming and outgoing http traffic to stdout

Run the tests

make test

The race detector takes longer to run, so we only enable it in CircleCI, but you can run tests with the race detector enabled:

make race-test

View the docs

Run make docs, which will start a docs server on port 6060 and open it to the right documentation page. All public API's will be present, and most function calls should be documented - some with examples.

Working with Godep

Godep is the tool for bringing all dependencies into the project. It's unfortunately a pain in the neck. The basic workflow you want is:

# Rewrite all import paths to not have the word Godeps in them
godep save -r=false ./...

# Rewrite all import paths to refer to Godep equivalents
godep save -r ./...

# Update a dependency. First go to the package locally, and point it at the new
# version via "git checkout master" or whatever. Then in this repo, run:
godep update github.com/Shyp/goshyp/...

If you're only adding new code, you'll likely only need to run godep save -r ./.... The good news is that the CircleCI tests will fail if you screw this up, so you can't really deploy unless it works.


Running locally on my 2014 MBP, I was able to dequeue 50,000 jobs per minute. Note the downstream Node server is too slow, even when run on 4 cores. You will want to start the downstream-server in this project instead.

Some benchmark numbers are here: https://docs.google.com/a/shyp.co/spreadsheets/d/1KF3pqCczDMRXZcq-ZqpQeGKo4sPclThltWhsxHdUPTc/edit?usp=sharing

The second bottleneck was the database. Note the database performed best when the numbers of connection counts and dequeuers were low. In the cluster we will want to have a higher number of dequeuers, simply because we aren't enqueueing as many jobs, it's more important to be fast when we need speed than to worry about the optimal number for peak performance.

In the cluster I was able to dequeue 7,000 jobs per minute with a single $25 web node, a $25 dequeuer node, a $50 database and a $25 Node.js worker. The first place I would look to improve this would be to increase the number of Node (downstream) dynos.

I used boom for enqueuing jobs; I turned off the dequeuer, enqueued 30000 jobs, then started the dequeuer and measured the timestamp difference between the first enqueued job and the last.

There's a builtin random_id endpoint which will generate a UUID for you, for doing load testing.

boom -n 30000 -c 100 -d '{"data": {"user-agent": "boom"}}' -m PUT http://localhost:9090/v1/jobs/echo/random_id

Supported versions

The database uses jsonb, which is only available in Postgres 9.4 and beyond. The Go server exposes http/pprof/trace, which is only available in Go 1.5 and beyond.

You can probably fork the project to remove the http/pprof handlers and replace jsonb with json and it should compile/run fine.

Single points of failure

This project has two points of failure:

  • If the database goes down, you can't enqueue any new jobs, or process any work. This is acceptable for most companies and projects. If this is unacceptable you may want to check out a distributed scheduler like Chronos, or use something else for the job queue, like SQS.

  • If the dequeuer goes down, you can't process any work. You can run multiple dequeuers, or manually split the single concurrency value across multiple machines, or just wait until the machine comes back up again. Note if the dequeuer goes down you can still enqueue jobs, the database queue will continue to grow.

Suggestions for scaling the project

  • Pull jobs out of the database in batches, and send them to the dequeuers over channels.

  • Use it only as a scheduler, and move the job queue to SQS or something else.

  • Run the server on multiple machines. The worker can't run on multiple machines without violating the concurrency guarantees.

  • Run the worker on multiple machines, and ignore or update the concurrency guarantees.

  • Run the downstream worker on a larger number of machines.

  • Shard the Postgres database so jobs A-M are in one database, and N-Z are in another. Would need to update db.Conn to be an interface, or wrap it behind a function.

  • Delete/archive all rows from archived_jobs that are older than 180 days, on a rolling basis. I doubt this will help much, but it might.

  • Get a bigger Postgres database.

  • Upgrade to Postgres 9.5 and update the Acquire() strategy to use SKIP LOCKED.


  • Allow UPDATEs to jobs once they've been created

  • API for retrieving recent jobs/paging through archived jobs, by name

  • Dequeuer listens on a local socket/port, so you can send commands to it to add/remove dequeuers on the fly.