Integrating RethinkDB with RabbitMQ

RethinkDB supports changefeeds, which allow you to subscribe to changes on a table. The database pushes these changes to you as they happen.

This opens up the possibility of notifying client applications immediately when a change occurs in a table. For real-time applications, this push behavior is essential.

RabbitMQ is a natural choice for distributing notifications of change events. It’s designed to efficiently route messages to many listeners, and there are client libraries for most popular languages. In this tutorial we take advantage of RabbitMQ’s topic exchanges. Topic exchanges allow clients to subscribe to the messages they’re interested in, and ignore the rest.

Before you start

Pushing changes to RabbitMQ

Let’s write a script that listens for changes in the RethinkDB server and pushes them to RabbitMQ.

First we’ll need to set up the connection to the RethinkDB server:

from rethinkdb import RethinkDB
import pika
import json

r = RethinkDB()
rethink_conn = r.connect(host='localhost', port=28015)

Next, we’ll connect to the RabbitMQ server using pika:

rabbit_conn = pika.BlockingConnection(
    pika.ConnectionParameters(host='localhost', port=5672)
channel =

Channels multiplex a single TCP connection. All RabbitMQ operations are performed on the channel, rather than directly on a connection. Next, we’ll declare the topic exchange so we have somewhere to send our change notifications:

channel.exchange_declare('rethinkdb', exchange_type='topic', durable=False)

This asserts that a topic exchange named “rethinkdb” exists, and that it’s set to be non-durable. If the exchange doesn’t exist, it’ll be created. If it does exist and has different properties, an exception will occur. Being non-durable means it won’t persist across RabbitMQ restarts (this is the default).

For this tutorial, we’ll assume the RethinkDB server has a database named “change_example” and a table named “mytable.” Here’s the query that watches for changes:

table_changes = r.db('change_example').table('mytable').changes()

The output of the changes query adheres to the following protocol:

  • If old_val is None, then new_val contains the newly created document.
  • If new_val is None, then old_val contains the document that was deleted.
  • Otherwise, a document was updated from new_val to old_val

Now we can plug our changes directly into Rabbit:

for change in
    routing_key = 'mytable.' + type_of_change(change)
    channel.basic_publish(exchange, routing_key, json.dumps(change)) will block until a change occurs, at which time we push it into the exchange. The routing_key is the topic we’ll be sending it on. For this example, we have three different topics: mytable.create, mytable.update, and mytable.delete. Each topic contains only changes of the corresponding type. The function type_of_change does this mapping using the protocol described above.

Listen to RabbitMQ messages#

The listener is the other side of the interaction: it connects to RabbitMQ, signs up to be notified of messages it’s interested in, and does something when it receives a message.

As before, we need to create a RabbitMQ connection and channel, and we’ll need to assert that the exchange exists:

import pika
import json

rabbit_conn = pika.BlockingConnection(
    pika.ConnectionParameters(host='localhost', port=5672)
channel =
channel.exchange_declare('rethinkdb', exchange_type='topic', durable=False)

Unlike the script that pushes data into Rabbit, to listen we need to create a queue. Queues are basically mailboxes. You go to an exchange and sign up a queue for different topics from that exchange:

queue = channel.queue_declare(exclusive=True).method.queue

You can give the queue a name if you want, but since we didn’t pass a name to queue_declare it’ll create a randomly generated name for us.

Now we need to “bind” the queue to the topics we’re interested in. Other listeners can subscribe to the same topic, and Rabbit will copy the message for every queue. Here, we’ll just keep it simple and bind to all events from “mytable”:

channel.queue_bind(queue, exchange='rethinkdb', routing_key='mytable.*')

Finally, to listen to the queue, we use the channel.consume generator. Similar to the changefeed cursor from RethinkDB, consume will block until a message arrives in the queue.

for method, properties, payload in channel.consume(queue):
    change = json.loads(payload)
    tablename, change_type = method.routing_key.split('.')

    print tablename, 'got a change of type:', change_type
    print json.dumps(change, indent=True, sort_keys=True)

This will deserialize the change message, and pretty print it, along with a short description of what kind of change it is.

Further reading