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Key Lime Box's Simple MQ

Why another Message Queue - because we needed something simple that does message publish/subscribe the way we wanted it. We looked at all the established message queue systems. They are good, but they are also very complex, handle many messaging needs, etc.

Most publish/subscribe model we found available were based on connected subscribers. We wanted persistent messages to subscribers whether connected or not.

Basic Architecture

We have a web server providing the REST API. This is a Spring Boot (Spring 4) based web application.

The configuration of queues and persistence of messages and configuration is through MongoDB.


When a message is published to a queue, Simple MQ looks at the queue's subscriber and creates a queued message for each subscriber and persist them. If there are no subscriber to the queue, no messages are queued.


In this initial implementation, the persistence to MongoDB is done in a very simple way. There is a collection named messages in which the QueuedMessages are stored.

Each QueuedMessage contains the ID of the queue they are for as well as the subscriber they are for.

Idea of Improvement

An idea on how this could be improved would be to dynamically create collections for each queue/subscriber pair. The advantages of doing it this way are:

  • Less overhead on the storage when reading queued messages - no lookup required to filter the entries in the messages collection to those applicable to the queue/subscriber requested.

  • Adds flexibility to the management of the queues - one could define a queue/subscriber collection to be a circular buffer so that even if the entries aren't read, the queue does not grow indefinitely.

There are also some downside to this approach:

  • Harder to manage the state of the queue - you have to query each collections in the storage to find how much entries they each have, if they have been there for too long, etc. When using a single collection for all messages, one can just query with aggregates.

  • Can't use the Spring Data repository API and therefore require additional code for the storage persistance.



Viewing Existing Publishers

GET /api/publishers

Returns the list of existing publishers.

Registering a New Publisher

POST /api/publishers/new

Before publishing messages, the applications need to be registered as publisher. This is a one-time action which is normally done during installation, not at runtime.


Listing the Subscribers

GET /api/subscribers

Returns the list of all registered subscribers.

Registering a New Subscriber

POST /api/subscribers/new

Before a subscriber can register with queues, it needs to be registered as a subscriber so it gets its own ID.

This is done by posting the following parameters to the above REST service:

  • name: A friendly name for this subscriber.

This is normally done only once when an application is deployed either manually or by the configuration management system. It is not something that generally gets put into the code of the subscriber application.


Listing the Queues

GET /api/queues

This API call returns a list of the queues which exist.

Creating a Queue

POST /api/queues/new

Applications that are going to be publishing messages must first create a queue. This is a one-time action which is normally done during the deployment of the application (i.e. manually or through a configuration management system, not necessarily in the application's code).

To create a queue, post the following parameters:

  • name: A friendly queue name.
  • description: A longer description as to what this queue is for.

Subscribing to a Queue

POST /api/queues/{queueId}/subscribe

To subscribe to a queue, post the following parameters to this REST service:

  • subscriber: The ID of the subscriber.

Publishing a Message

POST /api/queues/{queueId}/publish

A message can be published by posting a payload object (JSON) to this REST service with the following parameters:

  • publisher: The ID of the publisher.

A simple String payload can also be sent using a request parameter called payload, which is more convenient for payloads which consist of an ID for example.

Note: if there are no subscriber to a queue, the messages published will not be recorded.

Retrieving the Next Message

GET /api/queues/{queueId}/next


  • subscriber: The ID of the subscriber to get the message for.
  • previous: (Optional) The ID of the previous message to be removed before getting the next one.


A REST service is available for use with monitoring systems. At the moment, the Nagios format is supported. A queue can be monitored by itself, or, a Subscriber ID can be supplied to see the state of the queue as regards to that given subscriber.

Monitoring a complete queue is not in itself very useful as it does not tell you which subscriber stopped processing messages, but there may be some use-cases where this is needed (for example, if you are going to have only 1 subscriber to a queue, then it is one less parameter to pass).

The monitoring API is as follow:

GET /status/queues/{queueId}/?minutes={numberOfMinuteToWarn}&subscriber={subscriberId}&format=nagios

  • minutes: Is a number of minutes after which a message in the queue is considered stale and a warning should be issued.

  • subscriber: (Optional) Is the ID of the subscriber you want to monitor in regards to the given queue.

  • format: (Optional - default to nagios) Is the format for the outpout. Only Nagios format is currently supported.

Queue Details

The API for the queues also has a status service returning detalis in JSON format as follow:

GET /api/queues/{queueId}/status


  • subscriber: (Optional) Is the ID of the subscriber you want to monitor in regards to the given queue.

This can be convenient for manual inspection or for monitoring systems which can deal with JSON format.


A simple Message Queue with persistent subscribers.







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