Python Redis Queue Workers

October 14, 2014

Learn an easy, distributed approach to processing jobs from a Redis queue in Python.

Recently I started thinking about a new project. I want to write my own Continuous Integration (CI) server. I know what you are thinking… “Why?!” and yes I agree, there are a bunch of good ones out there now, I just want to do it. The first problem I came across was how to have distributed workers to process the incoming builds for the CI server. I wanted something that was easy to start up on multiple machines and that needed minimal configuration to get going.

The design is relatively simple, there is a main queue which jobs can be pulled from and a second queue that each worker process pulls jobs into to denote processing. The main queue is meant as a list of things that have to be processed where the processing queues is a list of pending jobs which are being processed by the workers. For this example we will be using Redis lists since they support the short feature list we require.

Lets start with the worker process, the job of the worker is to simply grab a job from the queue and process it.

import redis

def process(job_id, job_data):
    print "Processing job id(%s) with data (%r)" % (job_id, job_data)

def main(client, processing_queue, all_queue):
    while True:
        # try to fetch a job id from "<all_queue>:jobs"
        # and push it to "<processing_queue>:jobs"
        job_id = client.brpoplpush(all_queue, processing_queue)
        if not job_id:
        # fetch the job data
        job_data = client.hgetall("job:%s" % (job_id, ))
        # process the job
        process(job_id, job_data)
        # cleanup the job information from redis
        client.delete("job:%s" % (job_id, ))
        client.lrem(process_queue, 1, job_id)

if __name__ == "__main__":
    import socket
    import os

    client = redis.StrictRedis()
        main(client, "processing:jobs", "all:jobs")
    except KeyboardInterrupt:

The above script does the following: 1. Try to fetch a job from the queue all:jobs pushing it to processing:jobs 2. Fetch the job data from a hash key with the name job:<job_id> 3. Process the job information 4. Remove the hash key job:<job_id> 5. Remove the job id from the queue processing:jobs

With this design we will always be able to determine how many jobs are currently queued for process by looking at the list all:jobs and we will also know exactly how many jobs are being processed by looking at the list processing:jobs which contains the list of job ids that all workers are working on.

Also we are not tied down to running just 1 worker on 1 machine. With this design we can run multiple worker processes on as many nodes as we want. As long as they all have access to the same Redis server. There are a few limitations which are all seeded in Redis’ limits on lists, but this should be good enough to get started.

There are a few other approaches that can be taken here as well. Instead of using a single processing queue we could use a separate queue for each worker. Then we can look at which jobs are currently being processed by each individual worker, this approach would also give us the opportunity to have the workers try to fetch from the worker specific queue first before looking at all:jobs so we can either assign jobs to specific workers or where the worker can recover from failed processing by starting with the last job it was working on before failing.


I have developed the library qw or (QueueWorker) to implement a similar pattern to this, so if you are interested in playing around with this or to see a more developed implementation please checkout the projects github page for more information.

comments powered by Disqus