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rets: unidirectional redis to erlang replication with callbacks

What is it?

rets replicates a redis server to an ets table with an optional callback for each add/remove operation.

rets uses nsync to act as a complete redis replication target.

Note: we can only replicate against redis 2.2 servers so far. redis 2.4 moved to a more efficient (and more complicated protocol) we aren't handling yet.

Why is this special?

Friends don't let friends use mnesia.

Logical flow:

  1. You start the rets application.
  2. rets connects to your redis server using nsync
  3. nsync issues a redis SYNC command
  4. redis asynchronously writes its entire dataset to disk as an RDB file
  5. redis sends the data dump to nsync
  6. nsync issues a rets callback for each received key/value.
  7. rets runs the user-provided callback then optionally updates the rets ets table
  8. When the complete RDB dump is loaded, rets begins receiving lives updates from your redis server.
  9. Future operations on the connected redis server are replicated to ets in real-time using the same mechanism redis servers use to replicate updates between primary and secondary servers.



Only a very tiny subset of redis commands are handled by rets. rets is not a redis clone in Erlang, so it doesn't support keeping up with every redis operation. The best use case for rets is having simple values you want to keep in sync across many servers (hashes and strings, mainly).

Currently Implemented Command Handlers

rets currently has support for replication of hmset, hset, set, and del redis operations. Any other operations passed from redis to rets are ignored.

Note: the initial redis sync can load all redis data types because the inital sync simply receives key-value pairs. Only post-sync operations are limited by the implemented rets command set.

If you need support for more operations, just add them to the {cmd, ...} handler in rets_nsync_callback.erl and let us know so we can integrate your changes.


rets needs to know a few things to get your ets replication started: redis host, redis port, optional function to run after each update, and the ets table where data gets stored.

You can set your config using application:set_env/3 or by specifying settings in a VM-level .config file. See files in the test/ directory for examples of using set_env.

rets environment variables:

  • redis_host default localhost
  • redis_port default 6379
  • update_notify_function no default
  • ets_table default rets

Callback Function

Your callback function allows rets to act on incoming keys and optionally deny writing of a key into the default ets table being synchronized.

Callbacks look like:

callback({add, Type, Key, Value}) ->
callback({add, hash_set, Key, HashKey, HashValue}) ->
callback({del, Key}) ->

Where Type is an atom in hash, string, zset, listset, hash_set.

Type to Value mappings:

  • hash: a dict
  • string: a binary
  • zset: list of tuples [{Score1, Val1}, {Score2, Val2}, ...]
  • listset: list of elements as binaries (we don't differentiate between lists and sets).
  • hash_set: a hset or hmset operation happened and here is a new or updated hash key/value pair.

If your callback returns the atom skip, then rets will not perform ets actions (insert/delete).

So, you can use your callback in three ways:

  • Run your own processing on redis keys and values as they arrive then let rest store the redis data in ets
  • Run your own processing and store nothing in ets by returning skip
  • Use the callback as a filter to decide what to skip versus store.


Make sure your rets environment is setup to define your redis connection, callback, and ets table name before starting the application. Starting rets begins the redis sync process.



Dependencies: rebar get-deps

Build: rebar compile



First, start a redis 2.2 server on localhost port 6992 (or change the host and port in the test module). Then, uncomment the er dependency in rebar.conf, run rebar get-deps, run rebar compile, then run:

    rebar eunit skip_deps=true



I learned the use-redis-as-synced-configuration-management-server from JacobVorreuter. This project is a thin wrapper around his nsync project.


replicate a redis server's dataset into ets for lower latency access to distributed configurations



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