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Mesh your Seneca.js microservices together - no more service discovery!


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Mesh your Seneca.js microservices together - no more service discovery!


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This plugin allows you to wire up Seneca microservices using automatic meshing. It uses the SWIM gossip algorithm for automatic service discovery within the microservice network.

To join the network, all a service has to do is contact one other service already in the network. The network then shares information about which services respond to which patterns. There is no need to configure the location of individual services anywhere.

Many thanks to Rui Hu for the excellent swim module that makes this work.

If you're using this module, and need help, you can:

If you are new to Seneca in general, please take a look at We have everything from tutorials to sample apps to help get you up and running quickly.

Seneca compatibility

Supports Seneca versions 3.x and above.


To install, use npm

npm install seneca-balance-client
npm install seneca-mesh

The seneca-mesh plugin depends on the seneca-balance-client plugin.

And in your code:

  .use('mesh', { ... options ... })

Using Windows? seneca-mesh uses some native modules, so make sure to configure msbuild.

Quick Example

Create a microservice. The service translates color names into hex values.

// color-service.js
var Seneca = require('seneca')

  // Uncomment to get detailed logs
  // .test('print')
  // provide an action for the format:hex pattern
  .add('format:hex', function (msg, reply) {

    // red is the only color supported!
    var color = 'red' === msg.color ? '#FF0000' : '#FFFFFF'

    reply({color: color})

  // load the mesh plugin
  .use('mesh', {

    // this is a base node
    isbase: true,

    // this service will respond to the format:hex pattern
    pin: 'format:hex'

Run the service (and leave it running) using:

$ node color-service.js

Create a client for the service. This client joins the mesh network, performs an action, and then leaves.

// color-client.js
var Seneca = require('seneca')

Seneca({log: 'test'})

  // load the mesh plugin

  // send a message out into the network
  // the network will know where to send format:hex messages
  .act({format: 'hex', color: 'red'}, function (err, out) {

    // prints #FF0000

Run the client in a separate terminal using:

$ node color-client.js

The client finds the service using the mesh network. In this simple case, the color-service is configured as a base node, which means that it listens on a pre-defined local UDP port. The client checks for base nodes on this port.

Notice that the client did not need any infomation about the service location.

To join a network, you do need to know where the base nodes are. Once you've joined, you don't even need the bases anymore, as the network keeps you informed of new services.

To find base nodes, seneca-mesh provides support for discovery via configuration, multicast, service registries, and custom approaches. Base nodes are not used for service discovery. They serve only as a convenient means for new nodes to join the network.

In the above example, UDP multicast was used by default. In production you'll need to choose a discovery mechanism suitable for your network.

The examples folder contains code for this example, and other scenarios demonstrating more complex network configurations:

  • local-dev-mesh: local development, including a web service API.
  • multicast-discovery: multicast allows base nodes to discover each other - zero configuration!
  • consul-discovery: base node discovery using a service registry, when multicast is not available.

As a counterpoint to mesh-based configuration, the local-dev example is a reminder of the burden of traditional service location.

Development monitor

You can monitor the status of your local development network using the monitor option:

// monitor.js
Seneca({tag: 'rgb', log: 'silent'})
  .use('mesh', {
    monitor: true

This prints a table of known services to the terminal. Use keys Ctrl-C to quit, and p to prune failed services. In the case of the multicast-discovery example, the monitor will output something like:


Seneca-mesh has been tested under the following deployment configurations:

  • Single development machine using localhost (loopback network interface)
  • Multiple machines using VirtualBox (enable host network)
  • Docker containers using host networking (--net="host")
  • Docker swarm using an overlay network (not multicast not supported here by Docker)
  • Amazon Web Services on multiple instances (multicast not supported by Amazon)

See the test and test/docker folders for example code.

See also the [Full system](#Full systems) examples for deployment configurations.

Multicast service discovery is the most desirable from an ease of deployment perspective, as you don't have to do anything - base nodes discover each other, and services discover base nodes. Unfortunately multicast networking is often not supported by the underlying network.

As best-practice deployment model, consider running a least one base node per machine. This provides considerable redundancy for services joining the network.

Base discovery

Once a service has joined the SWIM network, it will find all the other services. SWIM solves that problem for you, which is why it is so awesome.

But you stil have to join the network initially. You can do so by pointing a new service at any other service, and it will "just work". However in practice it is useful to have the concept of a base node that provides bootstrapping functionality as a its primary purpose. The problem then reduces to finding base nodes.

Note: not all base nodes need to alive - you can provide a list of base nodes containing nodes that are down. SWIM will continue anyway so long as at least one node is up.

Seneca-mesh provides the following strategies:

  • defined: the base nodes are pre-defined and provided to the service via configuration or environment variables. This is no worse than having other kinds of well-known services in your system, such as databases. By following a consistent approach you can provide a list of nodes dynamically - e.g. using the AWS CLI to list all instances in your VPC (aws ec2 describe-instances).

  • custom: you can provide a custom function that returns a list of bases, resolved by your own custom approach.

  • registry: load the list of bases from a key-value registry such as Consul. This strategy leverages the seneca-registry set of plugins, so you can use not only consul, but also etcd, ZooKeeper, and so on.

  • multicast: base nodes broadcast their existence via IP multicast. New services briefly listen to the broadcast to get the list of base nodes, and then drop out. This keeps broadcast traffic to a minimum. Note: you need to get the broadcast address right for your network - time to run ifconfig -a!

  • guess: If a base node is running locally, then the service can find it by searching at the default location: UDP If you've specified a different IP for the service to bind to, then that IP will also be checked. This is the usual mode for local development.

The strategies are executed in the order listed above. By default, seneca-mesh only moves onto the next strategy if the current one failed to produce any bases (this is configurable).

Message flows

Each service speficies the messages patterns that it cares about using the pin setting. As a convenience, you can use pin at the top level of the options, however the more complete form is an array of patterns specifications listed in the listen option.


seneca.use('mesh', {
  pin: 'foo:bar'

is equivalent to:

seneca.use('mesh', {
  listen: [
    {pin: 'foo:bar'}

Each entry in the listen array specifies the listening models for a given pattern. In particular, you can specify that the listening model:

  • consume: assume the message is from a work queue; consume the message, and generate a reply. This is the default.
  • observe: assume the message is published to multiple services; do not generate a reply

As an example, consider a microservice that generates HTML content. The get:content message expects a reply containing the HTML content, and is intended for just one instance of the service, to avoid redundant work. The clear:cache message is published to all instances of the service to indicate that underlying data for the HTML content has changed, and the content must be regenerated for the next get:content message. Define the mesh patterns as follows:

seneca.use('mesh', {
  listen: [
    {pin: 'get:content'}, // model:consume; the default
    {pin: 'clear:cache', model:'observe'}

Seneca-mesh uses the HTTP transport by default. To use other transports, you can add additional options to each entry of the listen array. These options are passed to the transport system as if you have called seneca.listen directly:

seneca.use('mesh', {
  listen: [
    {pin: 'get:content'}, // model:consume; the default
    {pin: 'clear:cache', model:'observe', type:'redis'}

Message Patterns


You can send this message to any node, and the response will be a list of all known patterns in the network.

Here's a useful little service that lets you submit messages to the network via a REPL:

  tag: 'repl',
  log: { level: 'none' }
    port: 10001,
    alias: {
      m: 'role:mesh,get:members'

And on the command line:

# telnet localhost 10001

The alias m can be used as a shortcut.


The seneca-mesh plugin accepts the following set of options. Specify these when loading the plugin:

    .use('mesh', {
      // options go here

The options are:

  • isbase: Make this node a base node. Default: false.

  • bases: An array of pre-defined base nodes. Specify strings in the format: 'IP:PORT'. Default: [].

  • pin: the action pattern that this service will respond to. Default: null

  • listen: an array of action patterns that this service will respond to. Default: null

  • stop: base node discovery stops as soon as a discovery strategies provides a list of suggested nodes. Default: true

  • discover: define the base node discovery options:

    • defined: use defined base nodes, specified via the bases option.

      • active: activate this discovery strategy. Default: true
    • custom: provide a function with signature function (seneca, options, bases, next) that returns an array of base nodes. See unit test single-custom for an example.

      • active: activate this discovery strategy. Default: true

      • find: the custom function

    • registry: use the role:registry patterns to load the list of base nodes. Set to false to disable. Default is a set of sub-options - see code for details.

      • active: activate this discovery strategy. Default: true
    • multicast: base nodes broadcast their existence via IP multicast. New services briefly listen to the broadcast to get the list of base nodes, and then drop out. This keeps broadcast traffic to a minimum. Note: you need to get the broadcast address right for your network - time to run ifconfig -a!

      • active: activate this discovery strategy. Default: true

      • address: the broadcast address of the network interface used for multicast.

    • guess: Guess the location of a base by assuming it is on the same host. Default: true.

      • active: activate this discovery strategy. Default: true

Full systems

You can review the source code of these example projects to see seneca-mesh in action:


To run tests, use npm:

npm run test


The Seneca.js org encourages open and safe participation.

If you feel you can help in any way, be it with documentation, examples, extra testing, or new features please get in touch.


Copyright (c) 2015-2016, Richard Rodger and other contributors. Licensed under MIT.