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Consumers

A consumer is a stateful view of a stream. It acts as interface for clients to consume a subset of messages stored in a stream and will keep track of which messages were delivered and acknowledged by clients.
Unlike with core NATS which provides an at most once delivery guarantee of a message, a consumer can provide an at least once delivery guarantee. This is achieved by the combination of published messages being persisted to the stream as well as the consumer tracking delivery and acknowledgement of each individual message as clients receive and process them. JetStream consumers support multiple kinds of acknowledgements and multiple acknowledgement policies. They will take care of automatically re-deliver un-acked (or 'nacked') messages up to a user specified maximum number of delivery attempts (there is an advisory being emitted when a message reaches this limit).
Consumers can be push-based where messages will be delivered to a specified subject or pull-based which allows clients to request batches of messages on demand. The choice of what kind of consumer to use depends on the use-case but typically in the case of a client application that needs to get their own individual replay of messages from a stream you would use an 'ordered push consumer'. If there is a need to process messages and easily scale horizontally, you would use a 'pull consumer'.
In addition to the choice of being push or pull, a consumer can also be ephemeral or durable. A consumer is considered durable when an explicit name is set on the Durable field when creating the consumer, otherwise it is considered ephemeral. Durables and ephemeral behave exactly the same except that an ephemeral will be automatically cleaned up (deleted) after a period of inactivity, specifically when there are no subscriptions bound to the consumer. By default, durables will remain even when there are periods of inactivity (unless InactiveThreshold is set explicitly).

Configuration

Below are the set of consumer configuration options that can be defined. The Version column indicates the version of the server the option was introduced. The Editable column indicates the option can be edited after the consumer is created.

General

Field
Description
Version
Editable
Durable
If set, clients can have subscriptions bind to the consumer and resume until the consumer is explicitly deleted. A durable name cannot contain whitespace, ., *, >, path separators (forward or backwards slash), and non-printable characters.
2.2.0
No
FilterSubject
An overlapping subject with the subjects bound to the stream which will filter the set of messages received by the consumer.
2.2.0
Yes
AckPolicy
The requirement of client acknowledgements, either AckExplicit, AckNone, or AckAll.
2.2.0
No
AckWait
The duration that the server will wait for an ack for any individual message once it has been delivered to a consumer. If an ack is not received in time, the message will be redelivered.
2.2.0
Yes
The point in the stream to receive messages from, either DeliverAll, DeliverLast, DeliverNew, DeliverByStartSequence, DeliverByStartTime, or DeliverLastPerSubject.
2.2.0
No
OptStartSeq
Used with the DeliverByStartSequence deliver policy.
2.2.0
No
OptStartTime
Used with the DeliverByStartTime deliver policy.
2.2.0
No
Description
A description of the consumer. This can be particularly useful for ephemeral consumers to indicate their purpose since the durable name cannot be provided.
2.3.3
Yes
InactiveThreshold
Duration that instructs the server to cleanup consumers that are inactive for that long. Prior to 2.9, this only applied to ephemeral consumers.
2.2.0
Yes
Defines the maximum number of messages, without an acknowledgement, that can be outstanding. Once this limit is reached message delivery will be suspended. This limit applies across all of the consumer's bound subscriptions. A value of -1 means there can be any number of pending acks (i.e. no flow control). This does not apply when the AckNone policy is used.
2.2.0
Yes
MaxDeliver
The maximum number of times a specific message delivery will be attempted. Applies to any message that is re-sent due to ack policy (i.e. due to a negative ack, or no ack sent by the client).
2.2.0
Yes
ReplayPolicy
If the policy is ReplayOriginal, the messages in the stream will be pushed to the client at the same rate that they were originally received, simulating the original timing of messages. If the policy is ReplayInstant (the default), the messages will be pushed to the client as fast as possible while adhering to the Ack Policy, Max Ack Pending and the client's ability to consume those messages.
2.2.0
No
Replicas
Sets the number of replicas for the consumer's state. By default, when the value is set to zero, consumers inherit the number of replicas from the stream.
2.8.3
Yes
MemoryStorage
If set, forces the consumer state to be kept in memory rather than inherit the storage type of the stream (file in this case).
2.8.3
No
SampleFrequency
Sets the percentage of acknowledgements that should be sampled for observability, 0-100 This value is a string and for example allows both 30 and 30% as valid values.
2.2.0
Yes

AckPolicy

The policies choices include:
  • AckExplicit - The default policy. It means that each individual message must be acknowledged. It is recommended to use this mode, as it provides the most reliability and functionality.
  • AckNone - You do not have to ack any messages, the server will assume ack on delivery.
  • AckAll - If you receive a series of messages, you only have to ack the last one you received. All the previous messages received are automatically acknowledged at the same time.
If an ack is required but is not received within the AckWait window, the message will be redelivered.
The server may consider an ack arriving out of the window. If a first process fails to ack within the window it's entirely possible, for instance in queue situation, that the message has been redelivered to another consumer. Since this will technically restart the window, the ack from the first consumer will be considered.

DeliverPolicy

The policies choices include:
  • DeliverAll - The default policy. The consumer will start receiving from the earliest available message.
  • DeliverLast - When first consuming messages, the consumer will start receiving messages with the last message added to the stream, or the last message in the stream that matches the consumer's filter subject if defined.
  • DeliverLastPerSubject - When first consuming messages, start with the latest one for each filtered subject currently in the stream.
  • DeliverNew - When first consuming messages, the consumer will only start receiving messages that were created after the consumer was created.
  • DeliverByStartSequence - When first consuming messages, start at the first message having the sequence number or the next one available. The consumer is required to specify OptStartSeq which defines the sequence number.
  • DeliverByStartTime - When first consuming messages, start with messages on or after this time. The consumer is required to specify OptStartTime which defines this start time.

MaxAckPending

The MaxAckPending capability provides one-to-many flow control and applies to both push and pull consumers. For push consumers, MaxAckPending is the only form of flow control. However, for pull consumers because the delivery of the messages to the client application is client-driven (hence the 'pull') rather than server initiated (hence the 'push') there is an implicit one-to-one flow control with the subscribers (the maximum batch size of the Fetch calls). Therefore you should remember to set it to an appropriately high value (e.g. the default value of 1000), as it can otherwise place a limit on the horizontal scalability of the processing of the stream in high throughput situations.

Pull-specific

These options apply only to pull consumers. For an example on how configure a pull consumer using your preferred client, see NATS by Example.
Field
Description
Version
Editable
MaxWaiting
The maximum number of waiting pull requests.
2.2.0
No
MaxRequestExpires
The maximum duration a single pull request will wait for messages to be available to pull.
2.7.0
Yes
MaxRequestBatch
The maximum batch size a single pull request can make. When set with MaxRequestMaxBytes, the batch size will be constrained by whichever limit is hit first.
2.7.0
Yes
MaxRequestMaxBytes
The maximum total bytes that can be requested in a given batch. When set with MaxRequestBatch, the batch size will be constrained by whichever limit is hit first.
2.8.3
Yes

Push-specific

These options apply only to push consumers. For an example on how to configure a push consumer using your preferred client, see NATS by Example.
Field
Description
Version
Editable
DeliverSubject
The subject to deliver messages to. Note, setting this field implicitly decides whether the consumer is push or pull-based. With a deliver subject, the server will push messages to client subscribed to this subject.
2.2.0
No
DeliverGroup
The queue group name which, if specified, is then used to distribute the messages between the subscribers to the consumer. This is analogous to a queue group in core NATS.
2.2.0
Yes
FlowControl
Enables per-subscription flow control using a sliding-window protocol. This protocol relies on the server and client exchanging messages to regulate when and how many messages are pushed to the client. This one-to-one flow control mechanism works in tandem with the one-to-many flow control imposed by MaxAckPending across all subscriptions bound to a consumer.
2.2.0
Yes
IdleHeartbeat
If the idle heartbeat period is set, the server will regularly send a status message to the client (i.e. when the period has elapsed) while there are no new messages to send. This lets the client know that the JetStream service is still up and running, even when there is no activity on the stream. The message status header will have a code of 100. Unlike FlowControl, it will have no reply to address. It may have a description such "Idle Heartbeat". Note that this heartbeat mechanism is all handled transparently by supported clients and does not need to be handled by the application.
2.2.0
Yes
RateLimit
Used to throttle the delivery of messages to the consumer, in bits per second.
2.2.0
Yes
HeadersOnly
Delivers only the headers of messages in the stream and not the bodies. Additionally adds Nats-Msg-Size header to indicate the size of the removed payload.
2.6.2
Yes
Last modified 1mo ago