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Persistent (and fast!) push feeds, queues, and jobs leveraging Redis.
Latest commit 4535ad0 Mar 23, 2015 @fritzy fritzy Merge pull request #22 from rcjmurillo/master
Allowing to specify a password to connect to redis
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tests Updated thoonk to the latest contracts Nov 18, 2011
thoonk Allowing to specify a password to connect to redis Mar 22, 2015
test.cfg Basic script for testing interoperability Jun 15, 2011 Get the Feed class working to spec. Jun 2, 2011


Thoonk is a persistent (and fast!) system for push feeds, queues, and jobs which leverages Redis. is the Python implementation of Thoonk, and is interoperable with other versions of Thoonk (currently Thoonk.js for node.js).

Feed Types


The core of Thoonk is the feed. A feed is a subject that you can publish items to (string, binary, json, xml, whatever), each with a unique id (assigned or generated). Other apps and services may subscribe to your feeds and recieve new/update/retract notices on your feeds. Each feed persists published items that can later be queried. Feeds may also be configured for various behaviors, such as max number of items, default serializer, friendly title, etc.

Feeds are useful for clustering applications, delivering data from different sources to the end user, bridged peering APIs (pubsub hubbub, XMPP Pubsub, maintaining ATOM and RSS files, etc), persisting, application state, passing messages between users, taking input from and serving multiple APIs simultaneously, and generally persisting and pushing data around.


Queues are stored and interacted with in similar ways to feeds, except instead of publishes being broadcast, clients may do a "blocking get" to claim an item, ensuring that they're the only one to get it. When an item is delivered, it is deleted from the queue.

Queues are useful for direct message passing.

Sorted Feed

Sorted feeds are unbounded, manually ordered collections of items. Sorted feeds behave similarly to plain feeds except that items may be edited in place or inserted in arbitrary order.


Jobs are like Queues in that one client claims an item, but that client is also required to report that the item is finished or cancel execution. Failure to to finish the job in a configured amount of time or canceling the job results in the item being reintroduced to the available list. Unlike queues, job items are not deleted until they are finished.

Jobs are useful for distributing load, ensuring a task is completed regardless of outages, and keeping long running tasks away from synchronous interfaces.


In theory, if I publish the package correctly, then this should work.

pip install thoonk


Thoonk requires the redis-py package. I strongly recommend installing the hiredis package as well, since it should significantly increase performance.

Since the redis package is undergoing refactoring with backwards incompatible changes, be sure to use version 2.2.4.

pip install redis==2.2.4
pip install hiredis

Running the Tests

After checking out a copy of the source code, you can run


from the main directory.

Using Thoonk


Listen mode is off by default. Turn it on if you want to get live events.

from thoonk import Thoonk
pubsub = Thoonk(host, port, db, listen=True)

Creating a Feed

thoonk.create_feed(feed_name, {"max_length": 50})

OR create an object referencing the feed, creating it if it doesn't exist, reconfiguring it if you specify a configuration.

test_feed = thoonk.feed(feed_name)

The same is true for queues, jobs, and lists:

test_queue = thoonk.queue('queue name')
test_job = thoonk.job('job channel name')
test_list = thoonk.list('list name')

Configuring a Feed

thoonk.set_config(feed_name, json_config)

Supported Configuration Options

  • type: feed/queue/job
  • max_length: maximum number of items to keep in a feed

Subscribing to a Feed

thoonk.register_handler("create_notice", create_handler_pointer)
//args: feedname

thoonk.register_handler("delete_notice", delete_handler_pointer)
//args: feedname

thoonk.register_handler("publish_notice", publish_handler_pointer)
//args: feedname, item, id

thoonk.register_handler("retract_notice", retract_handler_pointer)
//args: feedname, id

Using a Feed

feed = thoonk.feed('test_feed')

Publishing to a Feed

Publishing to a feed adds an item to the end of the feed, sorted by publish time.

feed.publish('item contents', id='optional id')

Editing an existing item in the feed can be done by publishing with the same ID as the item to replace. The edited version will be moved to the end of the feed.

Since IDs are unique within the feed, it is possible to use a feed as a basic set structure by only working the IDs and not with the item contents.

Retracting an Item

Removing an item is done through retraction, which simply requires the ID of the item to remove.

feed.retract('item id')

Retrieving a List of Item IDs

Retrieving all of the IDs in the feed provides the order in which items appear.

item_ids = feed.get_ids()

Retrieve a Dictionary of All Items

Retrieving a dictionary of all items, keyed by item ID is doable using:

items = feed.get_all()

Iterating over items in published order

items = feed.get_all()
for id in feed.get_ids():

Retrieving a Specific Item

A single item may be retrieved from the feed if its ID is known.

item = feed.get_item('item id')

Using a Sorted Feed

A sorted feed is similar to a normal feed, except that the ordering of the items can be modified, and there is no bound on the number of items.

Sorted feeds do not automatically rearrange items for you, ordering is performed manually.

sorted_feed = thoonk.sorted_feed('sortedfeed_name')

Inserting an Item in a Sorted Feed

Inserting an item may be done in four places:

At the beginning of the feed.

sorted_feed.prepend('new first item')

At the end of the feed.

sorted_feed.append('new last item')
sorted_feed.publish('another new last item')

Before an existing item.

sorted_feed.publish_before('existing id', 'new item')

After an existing item.

sorted_feed.publish_after('existing id', 'new item')

Moving an Item in a Sorted Feed

Moving items is done in relation to existing item IDs in the feed.

To move an item to the beginning:

sorted_feed.move_first('item id')

To move it to the end of the feed:

sorted_feed.move_last('item id')

To move an item before an existing item:

sorted_feed.move_before('existing id', 'item id')

And to move an item after an existing item:

sorted_feed.move_after('existing id', 'item id')

You can also use sorted_feed.move() which uses a specially formatted relative ID.

Specifying the new location for the item is done using:

  • :42 -- Move before existing item ID 42.
  • 42: -- Move after existing item ID 42.
  • begin: -- Move to beginning of the feed.
  • :end -- Move to the end of the feed.

As so:

sorted_feed.move(':42', 'item id')
sorted_feed.move('42:', 'item id')
sorted_feed.move('begin:', 'item id')
sorted_feed.move(':end', 'item id')

Using a Queue

queue = thoonk.queue('queue_feed')

Publishing To a Queue

queue.put('priority item', priority=queue.HIGH)

Popping a Queue

item = queue.get()
timed_item = queue.get(timeout=5)

Using a Job Feed

A job feed is a queue of individual jobs; there is no inherent relationship between jobs from the same job feed.

job = thoonk.job('job_feed')

Publishing a Job

Creating new jobs is done by putting them in the job queue. New items are placed at the end of the queue, but it is possible to insert high priority jobs at the front.

job.put('job contents')
job.put('priority job', priority=job.HIGH)

Claiming a Job

Workers may pull jobs from the queue by claiming them using the get() method. The default behaviour is to block indefinitely while waiting for a job, but a timeout value in seconds may be supplied instead.

data = job.get()
timed_data = job.get(timeout=5)

Cancelling a Job Claim

Cancelling a job is done by a worker who has claimed the job. Cancellation relinquishes the claim to the job and puts it back in the queue to be given to another worker.

job.cancel('job id')

Stalling a Job

Stalling a job removes it from the queue to prevent it from executing, but does not completely delete it. A stalled job is effectively paused, waiting for whatever issue that required the stall to be resolved.

job.stall('job id')

Retrying a Stalled Job

Once a job jas been stalled, it can be retried once the issue requiring stalling has been resolved.

job.retry('job id')

Retracting a Job

Retracting a job completely removes it from the queue, preventing it from being executed.

job.retract('job id')

Finishing a Job

Finishing a job can be done in three ways. The first is as a simple acknowledgment that the task has been completed.

job.finish('job id')

The second is when there is result data that should be returned to the job owner. The result=True parameter is used since it is possible for None to be an actual job result.

job.finish('job id', 'result contents', result=True)

It may also be desired to only keep job results around for a short period of time. In which case, a timeout parameter may be added.

job.finish('job id', 'result contents', result=True, timeout=5)

Check Job Results

Checking the result of a job can require knowing what the original job request actually was. Thus, the get_result method will return both values.

query, result = job.get_result('job id', timeout=5)

The Future of Thoonk

  • Examples and functions for Job Maintainance
  • Live Sets
  • Live Queries of Feeds based on Live Sets
  • Advanced "Job Requirements" Job Feed
  • Lots of examples of clustering, distributing concerns, and tools.
  • SleekPubsub2 (XMPP XEP-0600 Publish-Subscribe) process to interact with your feeds.
  • More implementations like Ruby, Java, C, .NET -- please contribute!

Writing Your Own Implementation or Peer

See contract.txt for generating your own implementation that will work with and Thoonk.js.

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