An SQS-backed queue structure for ruby that works just like a normal queue, except it's essentially infinite because it uses SQS on the back end.
Switch branches/tags
Nothing to show
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.


SuperQueue is a thread-safe, SQS- and S3-backed queue structure for ruby that works just like a normal queue, except it's essentially infinite because it uses SQS (and S3 optionally) on the back end.

To install, just "gem install super_queue".

To create a new SuperQueue, pass it an options hash. Some options are required, and some are optional. When you're done with it, you should ideally call "shutdown" on it to shut it down gracefully and preserve any data. Or, if you want to delete the SQS queue and any lingering data, call "destroy."

Here's an short code example:

opts = {
  :aws_access_key_id     => "12234abc",
  :aws_secret_access_key => "sdafsdl123212",
queue =
#=> SQS queue XML stuff...
queue << "foo"
#=> nil
queue.push "bar"
#=> nil
queue.enq "baz"
#=> nil
#=> 3
#=> false
#=> "foo"
#=> "bar"
#=> "http://amazon-url/for-my-queue/alDkdFGjfglYUj"

Required options

  • :aws_access_key_id
  • :aws_secret_access_key

Optional options (=> default)

  • :name => #randomly generated name
  • :use_s3 => false
  • :bucket_name => same as queue name
  • :buffer_size => 100 #5 is the minimum
  • :replace_existing_queue => false
  • :namespace => ""
  • :visibility_timeout => 30 #in seconds. Max is 12 hours.

Let's go through these options one at a time.

AWS credentials

This should be obvious.


This is the name on AWS that you want to give the queue. It's recommended to use this if you don't plan to destroy the queue via the destroy method. Otherwise, SuperQueue generates a random name for it, and you'll end up with these randomly named SQS queues on your AWS account.

Use S3

By default, the maximum message size for an SQS message is 64K. If you want to store objects larger than 64K, you should set :use_s3 => true in the options hash. This will cause SuperQueue to store your object on S3, than then store a pointer to the object (an s3 key, basically) in SQS. So every object that you push will first be dumped, encoded, and then go to S3, and the S3 key will be pushed into the queue. When the pointer is popped, SuperQueue will fetch it from S3 using the popped pointer.

The S3 bucket names will be the same as the SQS queue names, so whatever queue name and namespace combo you pick will determine the S3 and SQS names.

Bucket name

You can pass SuperQueue the name of an S3 bucket to use. If you don't include one, then it'll use or create one that matches the name of the SQS queue.

Buffer size

For responsiveness and other reasons, SuperQueue uses two normal queues as buffers at each end of the SQS queue. When you push to a SuperQueue, your object goes into @in_buffer, where a polling thread that's blocking on @in_buffer.pop will pop it and push it to SQS.

When you pop from a SuperQueue, it pops from @out_buffer. If @out_buffer is empty, it wakes a thread that tries to fill the @out_buffer from either SQS or @in_buffer. Note that there's no constantly-running polling thread that's trying to fill @out_buffer from SQS, because that would run up the number of SQS requests and hence the cost. As a general rule, SuperQueue tries to generate only one SQS request per action (i.e. push, pop, size, etc.).

At any rate, you can tune the buffer size to trade off between memory usage and performance (i.e larger buffer == more memory usage and more performance).

Replace existing queue

If there's already an SQS queue by this name, delete it, then re_create this. Note that a delete_then_recreate on SQS takes a minimum of 60s.


If you want to namespace the queue on SQS, you can do that here.

Visibility timeout

Whenever a pop is executed against an empty out_buffer, SuperQueue wakes a thread that tries to fill that out_buffer from SQS. Depending on what you set the buffer_size attribute at, you could end up with quite a few objects in the local out_buffer. If those objects aren't popped from @out_buffer within the time window specified by visibility time_out (maybe the system crashed and the object was destroyed, maybe the job failed, and so on) then they'll become available again in the SQS queue.

The upside of this arrangement is that if the SuperQueue is somehow destroyed with objects still in the out_buffer, those objects are not lost and will become available again in SQS to be popped. The downside is that you must select both the visibility_timeout and buffer_size attributes in tandem with each other.

If the out_buffer is too large and the visibility_timeout is too small, objects in out_buffer may timeout and you could lose them if the SuperQueue dies. Or, an even bigger danger in this scenario is that objects languishing in out_buffer will become visible again in SQS and could be popped again from SQS, so you'd get dupes.

When in doubt, set the visibility_timeout for longer than you think you'll need, because whenever an object is actually popped from @out_buffer it gets deleted permanently from the SQS queue.

In a future version, I'll have the queue dynamically extend the visibility_timeout of objects that are languishing in out_buffer, so that this isn't so much of a worry.

For more on this attribute, see this page on Amazon.

Additional (non-Queue) methods

In addition to support for all the normal Queue methods, SuperQueue has the following additional methods that reflect its SQS back end:


Returns the URL to the actual SQS queue.


Returns the number of requests that have been sent to SQS. This number is useful for keeping track of costs.

Note that this number will sometimes be less than the number of push and pop calls you've made to SuperQueue, because in some cases SuperQueue will bypass SQS and move objects directly between buffers in order to optimize cost. SuperQueue also batches reads and writes when it can to further control costs.


Returns the full name of the queue on SQS, with any namespace and localization.


Gracefully shuts down the queue by making sure all local buffers are emptied and any garbage is collected. Call this if you plan to re-use the queue and don't want to lose any data.


Terminates all the queue-related threads immediately and deletes the queue from SQS. If you call this, then you'll need to wait 60 seconds before re-creating a queue with the exact same name, namespace, and localization.


For whatever reason, probably related to SQS and my buffering code, you can't rely on SuperQueue to be strictly ordered. I've seen objects get popped out of order a few times. This doesn't matter so much for my applications, so I may not get around to troubleshooting this any time soon. But if absolutely strict ordering matters for you, then SuperQueue isn't a good choice.


The version prior to 0.2.1 supports mocking through fog. However, fog had a ton of problems, so I switched to aws-sdk and now all is well. However, I haven't yet figured out how to mock with aws-sdk. Once I do, I'll post an update.

Misc Notes

I created this as a drop-in solution for the anemone gem. The idea is to swap out anemone's link and page queues with SuperQueues, and solve the infinite memory problem that plagues the gem. I've tested this with some live crawls and so far it works really well, and fixes the memory problems that anemone has.

I bring this up, because you may notice some peculiarities in the code that arise from its specific intended use.