Messaging library for Python.
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kombu - Messaging library for Python

Build status coverage BSD License Kombu can be installed via wheel Supported Python versions. Support Python implementations.

Keywords:messaging, amqp, rabbitmq, redis, mongodb, python, queue


Kombu is a messaging library for Python.

The aim of Kombu is to make messaging in Python as easy as possible by providing an idiomatic high-level interface for the AMQ protocol, and also provide proven and tested solutions to common messaging problems.

AMQP is the Advanced Message Queuing Protocol, an open standard protocol for message orientation, queuing, routing, reliability and security, for which the RabbitMQ messaging server is the most popular implementation.


  • Allows application authors to support several message server solutions by using pluggable transports.

    • AMQP transport using the py-amqp, librabbitmq, or qpid-python libraries.

    • High performance AMQP transport written in C - when using librabbitmq

      This is automatically enabled if librabbitmq is installed:

      $ pip install librabbitmq
    • Virtual transports makes it really easy to add support for non-AMQP transports. There is already built-in support for Redis, Amazon SQS, ZooKeeper, SoftLayer MQ and Pyro.

    • In-memory transport for unit testing.

  • Supports automatic encoding, serialization and compression of message payloads.

  • Consistent exception handling across transports.

  • The ability to ensure that an operation is performed by gracefully handling connection and channel errors.

  • Several annoyances with amqplib has been fixed, like supporting timeouts and the ability to wait for events on more than one channel.

  • Projects already using carrot can easily be ported by using a compatibility layer.

For an introduction to AMQP you should read the article Rabbits and warrens, and the Wikipedia article about AMQP.

Transport Comparison

Client Type Direct Topic Fanout Priority TTL
amqp Native Yes Yes Yes Yes [3] Yes [4]
qpid Native Yes Yes Yes No No
redis Virtual Yes Yes Yes (PUB/SUB) Yes No
mongodb Virtual Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
SQS Virtual Yes Yes [1] Yes [2] No No
zookeeper Virtual Yes Yes [1] No Yes No
in-memory Virtual Yes Yes [1] No No No
SLMQ Virtual Yes Yes [1] No No No
Pyro Virtual Yes Yes [1] No No No
[1](1, 2, 3, 4, 5) Declarations only kept in memory, so exchanges/queues must be declared by all clients that needs them.
[2]Fanout supported via storing routing tables in SimpleDB. Disabled by default, but can be enabled by using the supports_fanout transport option.
[3]AMQP Message priority support depends on broker implementation.
[4]AMQP Message/Queue TTL support depends on broker implementation.


Kombu is using Sphinx, and the latest documentation can be found here:

Quick overview

from kombu import Connection, Exchange, Queue

media_exchange = Exchange('media', 'direct', durable=True)
video_queue = Queue('video', exchange=media_exchange, routing_key='video')

def process_media(body, message):
    print body

# connections
with Connection('amqp://guest:guest@localhost//') as conn:

    # produce
    producer = conn.Producer(serializer='json')
    producer.publish({'name': '/tmp/lolcat1.avi', 'size': 1301013},
                      exchange=media_exchange, routing_key='video',

    # the declare above, makes sure the video queue is declared
    # so that the messages can be delivered.
    # It's a best practice in Kombu to have both publishers and
    # consumers declare the queue. You can also declare the
    # queue manually using:
    #     video_queue(conn).declare()

    # consume
    with conn.Consumer(video_queue, callbacks=[process_media]) as consumer:
        # Process messages and handle events on all channels
        while True:

# Consume from several queues on the same channel:
video_queue = Queue('video', exchange=media_exchange, key='video')
image_queue = Queue('image', exchange=media_exchange, key='image')

with connection.Consumer([video_queue, image_queue],
                         callbacks=[process_media]) as consumer:
    while True:

Or handle channels manually:

with as channel:
    producer = Producer(channel, ...)
    consumer = Producer(channel)

All objects can be used outside of with statements too, just remember to close the objects after use:

from kombu import Connection, Consumer, Producer

connection = Connection()
    # ...

consumer = Consumer(channel_or_connection, ...)
    # ....

Exchange and Queue are simply declarations that can be pickled and used in configuration files etc.

They also support operations, but to do so they need to be bound to a channel.

Binding exchanges and queues to a connection will make it use that connections default channel.

>>> exchange = Exchange('tasks', 'direct')

>>> connection = Connection()
>>> bound_exchange = exchange(connection)
>>> bound_exchange.delete()

# the original exchange is not affected, and stays unbound.
>>> exchange.delete()
raise NotBoundError: Can't call delete on Exchange not bound to
    a channel.


There are some concepts you should be familiar with before starting:

  • Producers

    Producers sends messages to an exchange.

  • Exchanges

    Messages are sent to exchanges. Exchanges are named and can be configured to use one of several routing algorithms. The exchange routes the messages to consumers by matching the routing key in the message with the routing key the consumer provides when binding to the exchange.

  • Consumers

    Consumers declares a queue, binds it to a exchange and receives messages from it.

  • Queues

    Queues receive messages sent to exchanges. The queues are declared by consumers.

  • Routing keys

    Every message has a routing key. The interpretation of the routing key depends on the exchange type. There are four default exchange types defined by the AMQP standard, and vendors can define custom types (so see your vendors manual for details).

    These are the default exchange types defined by AMQP/0.8:

    • Direct exchange

      Matches if the routing key property of the message and the routing_key attribute of the consumer are identical.

    • Fan-out exchange

      Always matches, even if the binding does not have a routing key.

    • Topic exchange

      Matches the routing key property of the message by a primitive pattern matching scheme. The message routing key then consists of words separated by dots (".", like domain names), and two special characters are available; star ("*") and hash ("#"). The star matches any word, and the hash matches zero or more words. For example "*.stock.#" matches the routing keys "usd.stock" and "eur.stock.db" but not "stock.nasdaq".


You can install Kombu either via the Python Package Index (PyPI) or from source.

To install using pip,:

$ pip install kombu

To install using easy_install,:

$ easy_install kombu

If you have downloaded a source tarball you can install it by doing the following,:

$ python build
# python install # as root

Getting Help

Mailing list

Join the celery-users mailing list.

Bug tracker

If you have any suggestions, bug reports or annoyances please report them to our issue tracker at


Development of Kombu happens at Github:

You are highly encouraged to participate in the development. If you don't like Github (for some reason) you're welcome to send regular patches.


This software is licensed under the New BSD License. See the LICENSE file in the top distribution directory for the full license text.