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A Common Lisp client library for the Advanced Message Queueing Protocol (AMQP)
Common Lisp
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DE.SETF.AMQP: a Common Lisp client library for AMQP

de.setf.amqp implements a native Common Lisp client library for the 'Advanced Message Queueing Protocol'. The implementation comprises wire-level codecs, implementations for the standard protocol objects and methods, a functional interface for message-, stream- and object-based i/o, and a device-level simple-stream implementation.

The library targets the revisions of the published AMQP protocol as of versions 0.8, 0.9, and 0.10. This means that it should work with respective RabbitMQ, Apache ActiveMQ, and Qpid implementations. The implementation architecture should also accommodate a control structure appropriate for the prospective 1.0 version - as least as described in preliminary drafts. For each version, a distinct package comprises the object and method definitions for protocol entities and codecs as generated from the respective specification documents.[1] Each collection is a complete projection, which means there is some amount of duplication. The package and directory names names follow more-or-less the naming conventions of the xml protocol documents[2]:

AMQP-1-1-0-8-0 version 0.8 [amqp0-8.xml, amqp0-8.pdf (2006-06)]
AMQP-1-1-0-9-0 version 0.9 [amqp0-9.xml, amqp0-9.pdf (2006-12)]
AMQP-1-1-0-9-1 version 0.9r1 [amqp0-9-1.xml, amqp0-9-1.pdf (2008-11-24)]
AMQP-1-1-0-10-0 version 0.10 [amqp.0-10.xml, amqp.0-10.pdf (2008-02-20)]

In order to modify the translation and/or generate new codecs consult the component.

All protocol versions are expressed through a common interface[3] which is specialized for the common abstract classes. The initial connection phase determines the correct concrete connection implementation to be used to communicate with the broker. Given which the other concrete object and method classes are elected from the same package. One determines the version support directly by loading the respective version's .asd file, which makes its connection class available for negotiation.


This is intended as the base for a distributed semantic store. What one has here is a reasonably complete engineering prototype. It consumes phenomenal amounts of memory and runs astonishingly slowly: 5 - 10 milliseconds and 1 to 10 thousand bytes per round trip. A request entails ten levels of generic function dispatch, half of which require keyword processing. A response call stack is about as deep, but with somewhat less keyword processing. As almost everything between the interface commands and the frame buffers is generated code, once it is clear which aspects should remain available for specialization and/or optional arguments, the protocol call stack would benefit from recasting uninteresting elements as ordinary functions of fixed arguments - depending on implementation type, by a factor of ten to sixty.

It would also be nice to generate a table similar to RabbitMQ's to record protocol conformance and compatibility with brokers. Eventually. The present tests are limited to

  • codec unit tests which validate the respective version's codecs for default argument values.
  • in-memory loop-back tests, used to ensure (for a recent version) that a round-trip does not cons
  • simple data exchanges with a broker.

The library has been built and probed in the following combinations

AMQP broker
lisp implementation
RabbittMQ QPID
MCL MCL-5.2, QPID-0.5, AMQP-0.9r1
CCL CCL-1.3, QPID-0.5, AMQP-0.9r1
SBCL SBCL-1.0.35, QPID-0.5, AMQP-0.9r1

For example,

$ sbcl
This is SBCL 1.0.35, an implementation of ANSI Common Lisp.
More information about SBCL is available at <>.

* (in-package :amqp.i)

* (defparameter *c* (make-instance 'amqp:connection :uri "amqp://guest:guest@localhost/"))

* (defparameter *ch1* (amqp:channel *c* :uri (uri "amqp:///")))

* (defparameter *ch1.basic* (amqp:basic *ch1*))

* (defparameter *ch1.ex* (amqp:exchange *ch1*  :exchange "ex" :type "direct"))

* (defparameter *ch1.q*  (amqp:queue *ch1* :queue "q1"))

* (amqp:request-declare *ch1.q*)

#<AMQP-1-1-0-9-1:QUEUE {11D7A0F1}>
* (amqp:request-bind *ch1.q* :exchange *ch1.ex* :queue *ch1.q* :routing-key "/")

#<AMQP-1-1-0-9-1:QUEUE {11D7A0F1}>
* (defparameter *ch2* (amqp:channel *c* :uri (uri "amqp:///")))

* (defparameter *ch2.basic* (amqp:basic *ch2*))

* (defparameter *ch2.q*  (amqp:queue *ch2* :queue "q1"))

* (amqp:request-declare *ch2.q*)

#<AMQP-1-1-0-9-1:QUEUE {11DA6891}>
* (list
    (amqp:request-publish *ch1.basic* :exchange *ch1.ex*
                          :body (format nil "this is ~a" (gensym "test #"))
                          :routing-key "/")
    (amqp:request-get *ch2.basic* :queue *ch2.q*))

("this is test #1282" "this is test #1624")
* (amqp:request-get *ch2.basic* :queue *ch2.q*)

"this is test #1820"
* (amqp:request-get *ch2.basic* :queue *ch2.q*)

"this is test #1998"
* (amqp:request-get *ch2.basic* :queue *ch2.q*)

"this is test #2011"
* (amqp:request-get *ch2.basic* :queue *ch2.q*)

"this is test #2014"
* (amqp:request-get *ch2.basic* :queue *ch2.q*)

"this is test #2022"
* (amqp:request-get *ch2.basic* :queue *ch2.q*)

"this is test #2028"
* (amqp:request-get *ch2.basic* :queue *ch2.q*)

"this is test #2179"
* (amqp:request-get *ch2.basic* :queue *ch2.q*)

"this is test #1282"
* (amqp:request-get *ch2.basic* :queue *ch2.q*)


Which, as an aside, indicates that brokered messages persist between connections until they have been consumed. Of which a default QPID broker with no persistence support was observed to cache only about a million bytes (ca. 25,000 messages of 20 bytes each).


  1. Obtain the required libraries (see amqp.asd). The sources are reflected in the respective system names:

  2. Obtain the de.setf.amqp source and that for the de.setf.utility library

  3. Add the hierarchical names utility to asdf.

  4. Place the libraries in a source tree to mirror their global identity as reflected in the required system names, and add the root of this tree to the asdf registry.
  5. Compile and load as: (asdf:operate 'asdf:load-op :de.setf.amqp._version_)


This version is released under version 3 of the GNU Affero license (GAL).[5] The required components are included as per the respective licenses and covered, in this combined form, under the GAL as well

  • usocket : MIT, through 2007. later work unspecified
    • 2003 Erik Enge
    • 2006-2007 Erik Huelsmann
  • closer-mop : effectively MIT, without the designation
    • 2005 - 2008 Pascal Costanza
  • bordeaux-threads : effectively MIT, without designation, with additional attribution undated.[6]
    • -2006 Greg Pfeil
  • cl-ppcre : equivalent to MIT
    • 2002-2008, Dr. Edmund Weitz
  • com.b9.puri : LLGPL, by which com.b9.puri.ppcre is also covered by the LLGPL
    • 1999-2001 Franz, Inc.
    • 2003 Kevin Rosenberg
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