Talk to Kafka with a simple language
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Build Status Go report License: GPL v3

Rafka is a gateway service that exposes Kafka using simple semantics.

It implements a small subset of the Redis protocol, so that it can be used by leveraging existing Redis client libraries.


Using Kafka with languages that lack a reliable, solid client library can be a problem for mission-critical applications.

Using Rafka we can:

  • Hide Kafka low-level details from the application and provide sane defaults, backed by the excellent librdkafka.
  • Use a Redis client instead of a Kafka client. This particularly useful in languages that lack a proper Kafka client library or do not provide concurrency primitives to implement buffering and other optimizations. Furthermore, writing a Rafka client is much easier than writing a Kafka client. For a list of available client libraries see Client libraries.

Refer to "Introducing Kafka to a Rails application" for more information.


Getting Started

  1. Install librdkafka:
    # debian
    $ sudo apt-get install librdkafka-dev
    # macOS
    $ brew install librdkafka
  2. Install Rafka:
    $ go get
  3. Run it:
    $ rafka -c librdkafka.json.sample
    [rafka] 2017/06/26 11:07:23 Spawning Consumer Manager (librdkafka 0.11.0)...
    [server] 2017/06/26 11:07:23 Listening on



Rafka exposes a Redis protocol and tries to keep Redis semantics where possible.

We also try to design the protocol in a way that Rafka can be replaced by a plain Redis instance so that it's easier to test client code and libraries.


Kafka is designed in a way that each consumer represents a worker processing Kafka messages, that worker sends heartbeats and is depooled from its group when it misbehaves. Those semantics are preserved in rafka by using stateful connections. In rafka a connection is tied with a set of Kafka consumers. Consumers are not shared between connections and, once the connection closes, the consumers are destroyed too.

Each connection first needs to identify itself by using client setname <>:<name> and then it can begin processing messages by issuing blpop calls on the desired topics. Each message should be explicitly acknowledged so it can be committed to Kafka. Acks are rpushed to the special acks key.


Each client connection is tied to a single Producer. Producers are not shared between connections and once the connection closes, its Producer is also destroyed.

Producers can immediately begin producing using RPUSHX, without having to call CLIENT SETNAME first.

Since the produced messages are buffered in Rafka and are eventually flushed to Kafka (eg. when the client connection is closed), DUMP can also be used to force a synchronous flush of the messages.



  • RPUSHX topics:<topic> <message>: produce a message. The message will be assigned to a random partition.
  • RPUSHX topics:<topic>:<key> <message>: produce a message with a key. Two or more messages with the same key will always be assigned to the same partition.
  • DUMP <timeoutMs>: flushes the messages to Kafka. This is a blocking operation, it returns until all buffered messages are flushed or the timeout exceeds

Example using Redis:> rpushx topics:greetings "hello there!"


  • CLIENT SETNAME <>:<name>: sets the consumer's group & name
  • BLPOP topics:<topic>:<JSON-encoded consumer config> <timeoutMs>: consumes the next message from the given topic
  • RPUSH acks <topic>:<partition>:<offset>: commit the offset for the given topic/partition

Example using Redis:> client setname myapp:a-consumer
"OK"> blpop topics:greetings 1000
1) "topic"
2) "greetings"
3) "partition"
4) (integer) 2
5) "offset"
6) (integer) 10
7) "value"
8) "hello there!"
# ... do some work with the greeting...> rpush acks greetings:2:10


  • PING
  • QUIT
  • HGETALL stats: returns a hash with various statistics useful for monitoring.
  • KEYS topics:: list all topics
  • DEL stats: resets the monitoring statistics.

Client libraries


If this is your first time setting up development on Rafka, ensure that you have all the build dependencies via dep:

$ dep ensure

Running the Go tests:

$ go test

We also have end-to-end tests that run via Docker. Refer here for more information.

Run tests (must have done make spawn before), perform various static checks and finally build the project:

$ make


Rafka is released under the GNU General Public License version 3. See COPYING.