RabbitMQ-shovel: Message Relocation Equipment

By: on February 1, 2010

In several applications, it’s very useful to be able to take messages out of one RabbitMQ broker, and insert them into another. Many people on our mailing list have being asking for such a shovel, and we’ve recently been able to devote some time to writing one. This takes the form of a plugin for Rabbit, and whilst it hasn’t been through QA just yet, we’re announcing it so people who would like to play and even suggest further features for inclusion can do so sooner rather than later.

The shovel is written on top of the Erlang client. It supports both direct and network connections to nodes, SSL support, the ability to declare resources on nodes it connects to, basic round-robinrabbit balancing of both source and destination nodes, and allows you to configure many parameters controlling how messages are consumed from the source, and how they’re published to the destination. Multiple shovels can be specified, their statuses queried, and shovels can repeatedly reconnect to nodes in the event of failure.

The plugin is available from http://hg.rabbitmq.com/rabbitmq-shovel/, and is released under the MPL v1.1. There is a README included which contains full documentation. This is replicated below.



This is a plug-in for RabbitMQ that shovels messages from a queue on
one broker to an exchange on another broker. The two brokers may be
the same. The plug-in allows several shovels to be specified at the
same time. Each shovel may have a number of source and destination
brokers specified, and one of each is chosen whenever the shovel
attempts to make a connection: this permits simple round-rabbit load

Resources can be declared upon connection to both the source and
destination brokers, and parameters can be specified for both the
reception and publishing of messages.


Currently, you must build the server from source, under branch
bug16653. You must also have checked out the rabbitmq-public-umbrella
hg repository, and have the rabbitmq-erlang-client built. From
scratch, the following commands should build RabbitMQ with the shovel

hg clone http://hg.rabbitmq.com/rabbitmq-public-umbrella
cd rabbitmq-public-umbrella
hg clone http://hg.rabbitmq.com/rabbitmq-codegen
hg clone http://hg.rabbitmq.com/rabbitmq-erlang-client
hg clone http://hg.rabbitmq.com/rabbitmq-server
hg clone http://hg.rabbitmq.com/rabbitmq-shovel
cd rabbitmq-server
hg up -C bug16653
make -j
mkdir -p plugins
cd plugins
ln -s ../../rabbitmq-erlang-client
ln -s ../../rabbitmq-shovel
cd ../../rabbitmq-erlang-client
cd ../rabbitmq-shovel
cd ../rabbitmq-server
make cleandb run


The RabbitMQ configuration file specifies the shovel
configurations. This exists by default, in
/etc/rabbitmq/rabbitmq.config under Linux systems,
%RABBITMQ_BASE%rabbitmq.config under Windows or somewhere else under
OS X. This file configures both RabbitMQ-server and all the plugins
installed in it. It is an Erlang-syntax file of the form:

[{section1, [section1-config]},
 {section2, [section2-config]},
 {sectionN, [sectionN-config]}

thus a list of tuples, where the left element of each tuple names the
applications being configured. Don’t forget the last element of the
list doesn’t have a trailing comma, and don’t forget the full-stop is
needed after closing the list. Hence if you configure RabbitMQ-server
and the RabbitMQ-shovel, then the configuration file may have a
structure like this:

[{rabbit,        [configuration-for-RabbitMQ-server]},
 {rabbit-shovel, [configuration-for-RabbitMQ-shovel]}

A full example of the shovel configuration is:

      [{sources,      [{brokers,
                                  [{exchange, <<"my_exchange">>},
                                   {queue,    <<>>}]}
       {destinations, [{broker, "amqp://"},
                                  [{exchange, <<"my_exchange">>},
                                   {type, <<"direct">>},
       {queue, <<>>},
       {qos, 10},
       {auto_ack, false},
       {tx_size, 0},
       {delivery_mode, keep},
       {publish_fields, [{exchange, <<"my_exchange">>},
                         {routing_key, <<"from_shovel">>}]},
       {reconnect, 5}

Firstly, all shovels are named. Here we have one shovel, called
‘my_first_shovel’. We can have multiple shovels if you wish. Every
shovel must have all sub-fields specified: sources, destinations, qos,
auto_ack, delivery_mode, publish_fields, reconnect.

Sources and Destinations

Sources and destinations specify respectively where messages are
fetched from and delivered too. One of ‘broker’ and ‘brokers’ must be
specified, and ‘broker’ is simply shorthand for when only one broker
needs specifying. Using ‘brokers’ allows a list of brokers to be
specified: whenever the connection to a broker is lost, another one is
chosen at random from the list and a connection attempt is made to
that. The syntax for broker URIs is:


If username or password are omitted, the default values of guest and
guest are used. If the vhost is omitted, the default value of / is
used. If the host is omitted, then the plugin uses the “direct”
connection internally rather than a network connection: this means it
connects to the RabbitMQ-server node on which it is running without
going through the network stack. This is much more efficient. If port
is omitted then the default value is used (5672 or 5671 if SSL is

SSL is implemented, for which additional parameters are needed:


(note, this is a single line)

All five parameters (3 paths: cacertfile, certfile and keyfile; 2
options: verify, fail_if_no_peer_cert) must be specified. See the SSL
guide at http://www.rabbitmq.com/ssl.html#configure-erlang for details
of SSL in RabbitMQ in general and specifically for the Erlang client
(on which the shovel is built).

Note that SSL cannot be used with the direct connection (i.e. a host
must be specified when using SSL), and that it is preferable to use
the non-SSL direct connection when connecting to the same node that’s
running the shovel.

Resource Declarations

Both sources and destinations can have an optional ‘declarations’
clause. The value of this is a list, consisting of AMQP Methods. If
default values are sufficient, then the method name alone can be
specified – e.g. ‘queue.declare’. If parameters need to be set then
the method should be given as a tuple, with the right hand side a
proplist specifying which fields need altering from their default
values. E.g:

    {'exchange.declare',[{exchange, <<"my_exchange">>},
                         {type, <<"direct">>},

One very useful feature here is the Most-Recently-Declared-Queue
feature, in which RabbitMQ remembers the name of the most recently
declared queue. This means that you can declare a private queue, and
then bind it to exchanges without ever needing to know its name.

queue :: binary

This parameter specifies the name of the queue on the source brokers
to consume from. This queue must exist. Use the resource declarations
to create the queue (or ensure it exists) first. Note again that the
Most-Recently-Declared-Queue feature can be used here, thus an
anonymous queue can be used: use <<>> to indicate the

qos :: non-negative-integer

The shovel consumes from a queue. The QoS controls how many messages
are sent to the shovel in advance of the message the shovel is
currently processing.

auto_ack :: boolean

Setting this to ‘true’ turns on the no_ack flag when subscribing to
the source queue.

tx_size :: non-negative-integer

When set to 0, transactions are not used. Other values make publishes
transactional, with a commit every N messages. In lieu of the auto-ack
option, when transactions are not used, messages are acknowledged to
the source immediately after every publish. When transactions are
used, acks are only issued to the source on receipt of the commit-ok
message from the destination. This can thus be used to guarantee that
messages are only acknowledged (and thus forgotten about by the source
broker) when they are guaranteed to have been received by the
destination broker.

delivery_mode :: ‘keep’ | 0 | 2

This affects the delivery_mode field when publishing to the
destination. A value of ‘keep’ means that the same delivery_mode
should be used as when the message was originally published to the
source broker. 0 and 2 override the original setting.


This is a list of tuples which override fields in the publish method
when publishing to the destination. This can be used to direct
messages to a particular exchange on the destination, for example, or
change the routing key. By default, the routing key of the message as
it is received by the shovel is passed through, but this can be
overridden as necessary.

reconnect :: non-negative-integer

When an error occurs, the shovel will disconnect from both the source
and destination broker immediately. This will force uncommitted
transactions at the destination to be rolled back, and delivered but
unacknowledged messages from the source to be requeued. The shovel
will then try connecting again. If this is unsuccessful, then it’s not
a good idea for the shovel to very quickly and repeatedly try to
reconnect. The value specified here is the number of seconds to wait
between each connection attempt.

Note that if set to 0, the shovel will never try to reconnect: it’ll
stop after the first error.

Obtaining shovel statuses

From the broker Erlang prompt, call
rabbit_shovel_status:status(). This will return a list, with one row
for each configured shovel. Each row has three fields: the shovel
name, the shovel status, and the timestamp (a local calendar time of
{{YYYY,MM,DD},{HH,MM,SS}}). There are 3 possible statuses:

* ‘starting’: The shovel is starting up, connecting and creating

* ‘running’: The shovel is up and running, shovelling messages.

* {‘terminated’, Reason}: Something’s gone wrong. The Reason should give
a further indication of where the fault lies.



  1. Jesper says:

    I’m representing a mid size company in Sweden that’s looking into messaging in general and RabbitMQ in particular to solve a bunch of problems. We were hoping to solve our store and forward requirements using Shovel. The problem is that’s is kind of hard to make a decision when we are unable to evaluate the workings of it all due to my inability to get a running environment.
    I have managed to install RabbitMQ (even got the mgmt web UI up and running :-), but I’m unable to get the Shovel plug-in to run.

    My steps:
    First uninstalling my previous (working, but without Shovel) installation of RabbitMQ (installed using brew)

    Installing things the way you suggest under “Requirements” (copy/paste in terminal)

    I’m running OSX 10.6.6
    I get a lot of rabbit.erl: Warning when making…
    I run “Erlang (BEAM) emulator version 5.8.2” (I guess this is the Erlang version?!)

    Could you please elaborate on the install-guide (required Erlang version etc), or propose some other way to get a working setup…

    If you need my console output I can email it…


  2. lee says:

    Jesper, RabbitMQ is now part of VMWare. Your best bet for this type of question is the RabbitMQ discuss list: http://lists.rabbitmq.com/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo


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