Performant RabbitMQ exchange with support for multiple routing keys per message
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.dockerignore Migrate to using rabbitmq-components-mk Oct 27, 2017

RabbitMQ Delimiter Exchange Type

What It Does

This plugin adds an exchange type allowing for multiple routing keys on a message via delimiter based separation.

This covers the situation in which you want messages to be routable via multiple fields, without having to resort to using the headers exchange (which has bad performance, comparitively). You can listen on any routing key in the delimited list, and only receive a single copy of the message into your queue/exchange even if multiple bindings match.

It's backed by the same logic used by the direct exchange, just with support for delimiters. Performance tests with the official RabbitMQ benchmarking tool show almost exactly the same throughput as direct exchanges (with the same number of total matching bindings).

How It Works

Due to RabbitMQ messages only allowing for a single routing key, this plugin just splits on a delimiter to enable multiple routing keys in the single routing key field. From that point it just routes in the same way that a direct exchange would, thus resulting in roughly the same throughput and performance.

When you bind to an exchange you simply specify your routing key to listen on as usual, even if it's a sub-key in the routing key split. When you publish a message you should start your key with a colon, (:) and then also separate any routing keys with a colon.

You can control the delimiter being used by changing the first character inside the routing key; it's recommended to use the colon, but in case of clashes you can pick your own. In the case below, the message would be routed to any bindings for both one and two:

% gets routed to "one" and "two" bindings
#basic_message{routing_keys = [<<":one:two">>]}

% same routing with a "," as delimiter
#basic_message{routing_keys = [<<",one,two">>]}

The delimiter is included in the routing key itself in order to make the key self-describing, meaning that we don't have to a) look for the delimiter in the bindings, b) look for the delimiter in the headers, and c) we can allow different delimiters on a per-message basis (for example if you have arbitrary routing keys inside your system).

To use the exchange the type is "x-delimiter" and there are currently no arguments being used, so any provided are ignored. It should work with many versions of RabbitMQ as it's backed by the same implementation as the direct exchange. If you see any incompatibility, please file an issue.


The RabbitMQ documentation explains how to install plugins into your server application. Each plugin is packaged as a .ez file; you build it yourself directly from source. To do so you don't need to clone the RabbitMQ umbrella; just clone this repository and run the make dist build task from the correct branch/tag. You should build from the stable branch unless you have reason to do otherwise. This plugin targets RabbitMQ 3.6.0 and later versions.


To work on this plugin (and plugins in general), you should use the RabbitMQ umbrella project. To set up the plugin for development, you can follow these steps:

# setup the umbrella project for the RabbitMQ ecosystem
$ git clone
$ cd rabbitmq-public-umbrella
$ make co
$ make

# clone the plugin for development
$ cd deps
$ git clone
$ mv rabbitmq-delimiter-exchange rabbitmq_delimiter_exchange
$ cd rabbitmq_delimiter_exchange

# build the plugin
$ make

# package the plugin
$ make dist

# run the server with the plugin enabled
$ cd ../rabbitmq_server_release
$ make run-broker PLUGINS='rabbitmq_delimiter_exchange'