Kafka

Kafka is an open source, distributed streaming platform which has three key capabilities:

  • Publish and subscribe to streams of records, similar to a message queue or enterprise messaging system.
  • Store streams of records in a fault-tolerant durable way.
  • Process streams of records as they occur.

The Kafka project aims to provide a unified, high-throughput, low-latency platform for handling real-time data feeds. It integrates very well with Apache Storm and Spark for real-time streaming data analysis.

Kafka transporter is experimental.

Installation

To start building Kafka-based microservices, first install the required package:

$ npm i --save kafkajs

Overview

Like other Nest microservice transport layer implementations, you select the Kafka transporter mechanism using the transport property of the options object passed to the createMicroservice() method, along with an optional options property, as shown below:

@@filename(main)
const app = await NestFactory.createMicroservice<MicroserviceOptions>(ApplicationModule, {
transport: Transport.KAFKA,
options: {
client: {
brokers: ['localhost:9092'],
}
}
});
@@switch
const app = await NestFactory.createMicroservice(ApplicationModule, {
transport: Transport.KAFKA,
options: {
client: {
brokers: ['localhost:9092'],
}
}
});

info Hint The Transport enum is imported from the @nestjs/microservices package.

Options

The options property is specific to the chosen transporter. The Kafka transporter exposes the properties described below.

clientClient configuration options (read morehere)
consumerConsumer configuration options (read morehere)
runRun configuration options (read morehere)
subscribeSubscribe configuration options (read morehere)
producerProducer configuration options (read morehere)
sendSend configuration options (read morehere)

Client

There is a small difference in Kafka compared to other microservice transporters. Instead of the ClientProxy class, we use the ClientKafka class.

Like other microservice transporters, you have several options for creating a ClientKafka instance.

One method for creating an instance is to use use the ClientsModule. To create a client instance with the ClientsModule, import it and use the register() method to pass an options object with the same properties shown above in the createMicroservice() method, as well as a name property to be used as the injection token. Read more about ClientsModule here.

@Module({
imports: [
ClientsModule.register([
{
name: 'HERO_SERVICE',
transport: Transport.KAFKA,
options: {
client: {
clientId: 'hero',
brokers: ['localhost:9092'],
},
consumer: {
groupId: 'hero-consumer'
}
}
},
]),
]
...
})

Other options to create a client (either ClientProxyFactory or @Client()) can be used as well. You can read about them here.

Use the @Client() decorator as follows:

@Client({
transport: Transport.KAFKA,
options: {
client: {
clientId: 'hero',
brokers: ['localhost:9092'],
},
consumer: {
groupId: 'hero-consumer'
}
}
})
client: ClientKafka;

Message response subscription

The ClientKafka class provides the subscribeToResponseOf() method. The subscribeToResponseOf() method takes a request's topic name as an argument and adds the derived reply topic name to a collection of reply topics. This method is required when implementing the message pattern.

@@filename(heroes.controller)
onModuleInit() {
this.client.subscribeToResponseOf('hero.kill.dragon');
}

If the ClientKafka instance is created asynchronously, the subscribeToResponseOf() method must be called before calling the connect() method.

@@filename(heroes.controller)
async onModuleInit() {
this.client.subscribeToResponseOf('hero.kill.dragon');
await this.client.connect();
}

Message pattern

The Kafka microservice message pattern utilizes two topics for the request and reply channels. The ClientKafka#send() method sends messages with a return address by associating a correlation id, reply topic, and reply partition with the request message. This requires the ClientKafka instance to be subscribed to the reply topic and assigned to at least one partition before sending a message.

Subsequently, you need to have at least one reply topic partition for every Nest application running. For example, if you are running 4 Nest applications but the reply topic only has 3 partitions, then 1 of the Nest applications will error out when trying to send a message.

When new ClientKafka instances are launched they join the consumer group and subscribe to their respective topics. This process triggers a rebalance of topic partitions assigned to consumers of the consumer group.

Normally, topic partitions are assigned using the round robin partitioner, which assigns topic partitions to a collection of consumers sorted by consumer names which are randomly set on application launch. However, when a new consumer joins the consumer group, the new consumer can be positioned anywhere within the collection of consumers. This creates a condition where pre-existing consumers can be assigned different partitions when the pre-existing consumer is positioned after the new consumer. As a result, the consumers that are assigned different partitions will lose response messages of requests sent before the rebalance.

To prevent the ClientKafka consumers from losing response messages, a Nest-specific built-in custom partitioner is utilized. This custom partitioner assigns partitions to a collection of consumers sorted by high-resolution timestamps (process.hrtime()) that are set on application launch.

Incoming

Nest receives incoming Kafka messages as an object with key, value, and headers properties that have values of type Buffer. Nest then parses these values by transforming the buffers into strings. If the string is "object like", Nest attempts to parse the string as JSON. The value is then passed to its associated handler.

Outgoing

Nest sends outgoing Kafka messages after a serialization process when publishing events or sending messages. This occurs on arguments passed to the ClientKafka emit() and send() methods or on values returned from a @MessagePattern method. This serialization "stringifies" objects that are not strings or buffers by using JSON.stringify() or the toString() prototype method.

@@filename(heroes.controller)
@Controller()
export class HeroesController {
@MessagePattern('hero.kill.dragon')
killDragon(@Payload() message: KillDragonMessage): any {
const dragonId = message.dragonId;
const items = [
{ id: 1, name: 'Mythical Sword' },
{ id: 2, name: 'Key to Dungeon' },
];
return items;
}
}

info Hint @Payload() is imported from the @nestjs/microservices.

Outgoing messages can also be keyed by passing an object with the key and value properties. Keying messages is important for meeting the co-partitioning requirement.

@@filename(heroes.controller)
@Controller()
export class HeroesController {
@MessagePattern('hero.kill.dragon')
killDragon(@Payload() message: KillDragonMessage): any {
const realm = 'Nest';
const heroId = message.heroId;
const dragonId = message.dragonId;
const items = [
{ id: 1, name: 'Mythical Sword' },
{ id: 2, name: 'Key to Dungeon' },
];
return {
headers: {
realm
},
key: heroId,
value: items
}
}
}

Additionally, messages passed in this format can also contain custom headers set in the headers hash property. Header hash property values must be either of type string or type Buffer.

@@filename(heroes.controller)
@Controller()
export class HeroesController {
@MessagePattern('hero.kill.dragon')
killDragon(@Payload() message: KillDragonMessage): any {
const realm = 'Nest';
const heroId = message.heroId;
const dragonId = message.dragonId;
const items = [
{ id: 1, name: 'Mythical Sword' },
{ id: 2, name: 'Key to Dungeon' },
];
return {
headers: {
kafka_nestRealm: realm
},
key: heroId,
value: items
}
}
}

Context

In more sophisticated scenarios, you may want to access more information about the incoming request. When using the Kafka transporter, you can access the KafkaContext object.

@@filename()
@MessagePattern('hero.kill.dragon')
killDragon(@Payload() message: KillDragonMessage, @Ctx() context: KafkaContext) {
console.log(`Topic: ${context.getTopic()}`);
}
@@switch
@Bind(Payload(), Ctx())
@MessagePattern('hero.kill.dragon')
killDragon(message, context) {
console.log(`Topic: ${context.getTopic()}`);
}

info Hint @Payload(), @Ctx() and KafkaContext are imported from the @nestjs/microservices package.

To access the original Kafka IncomingMessage object, use the getMessage() method of the KafkaContext object, as follows:

@@filename()
@MessagePattern('hero.kill.dragon')
killDragon(@Payload() message: KillDragonMessage, @Ctx() context: KafkaContext) {
const originalMessage = context.getMessage();
const { headers, partition, timestamp } = originalMessage;
}
@@switch
@Bind(Payload(), Ctx())
@MessagePattern('hero.kill.dragon')
killDragon(message, context) {
const originalMessage = context.getMessage();
const { headers, partition, timestamp } = originalMessage;
}

Where the IncomingMessage fulfills the following interface:

interface IncomingMessage {
topic: string;
partition: number;
timestamp: string;
size: number;
attributes: number;
offset: string;
key: any;
value: any;
headers: Record<string, any>;
}

Naming conventions

The Kafka microservice components append a description of their respective role onto the client.clientId and consumer.groupId options to prevent collisions between Nest microservice client and server components. By default the ClientKafka components append -client and the ServerKafka components append -server to both of these options. Note how the provided values below are transformed in that way (as shown in the comments).

@@filename(main)
const app = await NestFactory.createMicroservice(ApplicationModule, {
transport: Transport.KAFKA,
options: {
client: {
clientId: 'hero', // hero-server
brokers: ['localhost:9092'],
},
consumer: {
groupId: 'hero-consumer' // hero-consumer-server
},
}
});

And for the client:

@@filename(heroes.controller)
@Client({
transport: Transport.KAFKA,
options: {
client: {
clientId: 'hero', // hero-client
brokers: ['localhost:9092'],
},
consumer: {
groupId: 'hero-consumer' // hero-consumer-client
}
}
})
client: ClientKafka;

info Hint Kafka client and consumer naming conventions can be customized by extending ClientKafka and KafkaServer in your own custom provider and overriding the constructor.

Since the Kafka microservice message pattern utilizes two topics for the request and reply channels, a reply pattern should be derived from the request topic. By default, the name of the reply topic is the composite of the request topic name with .reply appended.

@@filename(heroes.controller)
onModuleInit() {
this.client.subscribeToResponseOf('hero.get'); // hero.get.reply
}

info Hint Kafka reply topic naming conventions can be customized by extending ClientKafka in your own custom provider and overriding the getResponsePatternName method.