TorqueBox provides support for asynchronous and synchronous messaging.

The API for messaging all resides within the Messaging module.

The gem

Messaging services are provided by the torquebox-messaging gem, and can be used independently of other TorqueBox services.


The messaging API is backed by HornetQ, which is an implementation of JMS. JMS provides two primary destination types: queues and topics. Queues represent point-to-point destinations, and topics publish/subscribe.

To use a destination, we need to get a reference to one via the Messaging.queue or Messaging.topic methods (or similar methods on a Context for remote destinations), depending on the type required. This will create the destination if it does not already exist.

Once we have a reference to a destination, we can operate on it with the following methods:

If the destination is a queue, we can do synchronous messaging (request-response):

Some Examples

First, let’s create a queue:


That will create the queue in the HornetQ broker for us. We’ll need a reference to that queue to operate on it. Let’s go ahead and store that reference:

q = TorqueBox::Messaging.queue("my-queue")

We can call queue any number of times - if the queue already exists, we’re just grabbing a reference to it.

Now, let’s register a listener on our queue. Let’s just print every message we get:

listener = q.listen { |m| puts m }

We can publish to that queue, and see that the listener gets called:

q.publish(:hi => :there)

You’ll notice that we’re publishing a hash there - we can publish pretty much any data structure as a message. By default, that message will be encoded using Ruby’s built-in Marshal format. We also support other encodings, namely: :edn, :json, :marshal_base64 and :text. We can choose a different encoding by passing an :encoding option to publish:

q.publish({:hi => :there}, :encoding => :json)

If you want to use :json, you’ll need to have the JSON gem loaded.

We can deregister the listener by calling .close on it:


Now let’s take a look at synchronous messaging. Let’s create a new queue for this (you’ll want to use a dedicated queue for each responder) and register a responder that just increments the request:

sync_q = TorqueBox::Messaging.queue("sync")

responder = sync_q.respond { |m| m.succ }

Then, we make a request, which blocks and waits for a response:


The responder is just a fancy listener, and can be deregistered the same way as a listener:


Remote contexts

To connect to a remote HornetQ instance, you’ll need to create a remote context by instantiating a Context, and use it when getting a reference to the destination: => "some-host", :port => 5445) do |context|
  context.queue("foo").publish("a message")

A few things to note about the above example:

Reusing contexts

By default, TorqueBox creates a new context object for each publish, request or receive call. Creating a context isn’t free, and incurs some performance overhead. If you plan on calling any of those functions in a tight loop, you can gain some performance by creating the context yourself:

q = TorqueBox::Messaging.queue("foo", :durable => false) do |context|
  5000.times do |n|
    q.publish(n, :context => context)

HornetQ configuration

When used outside of WildFly, we configure HornetQ via a pair of xml files. If you need to adjust any of the HornetQ configuration options, you can provide a copy of one (or both) of those files (hornetq-configuration.xml and hornetq-jms.xml, which should be based off of the default versions) on your application’s classpath and your copies will be used instead of the default ones. When making changes to these files, be careful about changing existing settings, as TorqueBox relies on some of them.

We’ve also exposed a few HornetQ settings as system properties, namely:

Property Description Default The base directory for HornetQ to store its data files ./hornetq-data/
hornetq.netty.port The port that HornetQ will listen on for remote connections 5445 The host that HornetQ will listen on for remote connections localhost

Note that any custom xml or system properties will be ignored when running inside WildFly - you’ll need to make adjustments to the WildFly configuration to achieve similar effects.

More to come

That was just a brief introduction to the messaging API. There are features we’ve yet to cover (durable topic subscriptions, transactional sessions)…