TrueQueue (as in "the one true queue") is a proxy to multiple queueing backends.

The most mature backend is one based on Redis which is a homegrown set of operations over Redis hashes and sorted sets that provides:

  • A fast in-memory queue, with constant backups to disk.
  • Atomic add and remove operations
  • An inspectable queue: you can see what's in the queue or peek into the head of the queue without changing it.
  • A reservable remove, where if the client quits halfway, the item is put back in.
  • Priority queues
  • And delayed retrieval for items, you can set a timestamp after which the entries are slated for removal.

Not to mention the biggest advantage of all: continue to use your existing Redis install!

There are other backends as well:

  • memory: a simple in-process memory queue using a sorted set
  • zermoq: an experimental backend built on zeromq (see bin/zeromq-memory-queue.rb)
  • amqp: an AMQP backend to work with RabbitMQ

There are a set of uniform conventions regardless of the queue backend used:

  • Queues are created when values are added to it. All input is encoded into JSON when stored and decoded when dequeued.
  • When a queue is empty, nil is returned on remove
  • There are always 9 standard methods: add, add_bulk, remove, peek, list, empty, size, remove_queues, list_queues.

Certain features (for e.g. a reservable remove) might not be available on all queue backends.


Ruby version 1.9.2p290

All other dependencies are in the gemspec


$ gem install true_queue


$ bundle exec guard



For the redis backend,

queue = TrueQueue.queue(:redis, options = { :redis_options => { } })

For the AMQP backend using bunny,

queue = TrueQueue.queue(:amqp, options = { :bunny_options => { } })

For the in-memory backend that only stores keys within a process space,

queue = TrueQueue.queue(:memory, options = {})

For the zeromq backend,

queue = TrueQueue.queue(:zeromq, options = {})

Add an item

queue.add("queue_name", {:jobid => 23, :url => 'http://example.com/' })

Items can also have arbitrary metadata. They are stored alongside items and returned on a dequeue.

queue.add("publish", {:jobid => 23, :url => 'http://example.com/' }, {'importance' => low})

Certain metadata have special meaning. If you set a dequeue-timestamp to a Time object, the item will only be dequeued after that time. Note that it won't be dequeued exactly at the time, but at any time afterwards.

# only dequeue 5s after queueing
queue.add("publish", {:jobid => 23, :url => 'http://example.com/' }, {'dequeue-timestamp' => Time.now + 5 })

Another special metadata keyword is priority.

# priority is an integer from 1 to 100. Higher priority items are dequeued first.
queue.add("publish", {:jobid => 23, :url => 'http://example.com/' }, {'priority' => 5})

Items with priority set (or a higher priority) are always dequeued first.

Note that the AMQP backend doesn't support priorities or the dequeue timestamp.

Remove an item

# dequeue

#remove returns an array. The first element is the Ruby object in the queue, the second is the associated metadata (always a Hash).

=> {:jobid => 23, :url => 'http://example.com/' }, {'priority' => 5}

#remove also can take a block. This is the recommended way to remove an item from a queue.

# dequeue into a block
queue.remove do |item|
  #process item

When a block is passed, Queue ensures that the item is put back in case of an error within the block.

Inside a block, you can also manually raise MobME::Infrastructure::Queue::RemoveAbort to put back the item:

# dequeue into a block
queue.remove do |item|
  #this item will be put back
  raise TrueQueue::RemoveAbort

Note: you cannot pass in a block using the zeromq or amqp queue types.

Another thing to note is that unlike in other queues, remove does not block and returns nil when the queue is empty. So you'll have to manually call sleep(delay) and re-poll the queue. This implementation might change in the future:

loop do # dequeue into a block
  queue.remove do |item|
    next unless item
    #this item will be put back
    raise TrueQueue::RemoveAbort

  sleep 1

List all items in a queue

This is an expensive operation, but at times, very useful!

queue.list "queue"

This is not supported for the amqp queue type.

List available queues


Returns an array of all queues stored in the Redis instance.

Remove queues

This empties and removes all queues:


To selectively remove queues:

queue.remove_queue "queue1"
queue.remove_queues "queue1", "queue2"

Performance & Memory Usage

See detailed analysis in spec/performance.

The Redis Backend

An indicative add performance is around 100,000 values stored in 20s: 5K/s write.

An indicative normal workflow performance is 200,000 values stored and retrieved in 1 minute: ~3K/s read-write

It's also reasonably memory efficient because it uses hashes instead of plain strings to store values. 200,000 values used 20MB (with each value 10 bytes).

The AMQP Backend

The amqp backend uses the excellent bunny gem to connect to RabbitMQ.

This is slightly slower than the Redis backend: 200,000 values read-write in around 1m30s (~2K/s read-write)

The Memory Backend

The memory backend only stores keys within the process space.

But performance is very good. It does 200,000 read/write in around 5s, which is ~40K/s read/write.

The ZeroMQ Backend

The zeromq backend is currently experimental. It's meant to do these things:

  • Very fast queue adds (5s for 100,000 keys)
  • Consistent reads
  • Eventual consistency via a persistence server
  • A listener based queue interface where a client can request a message rather than messages being pushed down the wire (i.e. 'subscribe' to a queue) (not implemented yet)