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Ace Message broker and Messaging Styles | Pros and Cons

What is a message broker?

Message brokers are software that offers reliable and stable communication between diverse applications.

Diverse how?

Message Broker

Applications or services can be in different languages while using varying technology stacks. Communication between such applications becomes difficult as one must navigate the different protocols. 

This is where the message broker comes in – helping to translate information between different messaging protocols. 

Note: Message structure is independent of services/apps that send them, and there are three central parts of a message broker. 

Parts of a Message Broker Structure 

Three parts of a message broker structure are; Producer, Consumer and Queue/Topic!

What is a Producer? 

A producer is a service or an application responsible for sending messages. These are also called publisher in topic subscribe concept. 

What is a Consumer? 

Consumers are services or apps which receive the messages, also known as subscribers in the topic-subscribe concept. 

What is Queue/ Topic?

Queues/topics are used to store messages by message brokers. 

Let’s look into how these two are different from each. 

A. Queues

Queues are the simpler of the two concepts. 

Message transverse through the queue and get ordered by the time they arrive. In this instance, there is only one receiver, so if you do actions that activate a single event; for example, a user creating an account and we want to send them a welcome email, queues are the ideal solution.

B. Topics

‘Topic’ is more versatile and comes with multiple subscriptions attached to the topic. When a service is subscribed to a topic, it receives a copy of each message sent to the topic. Or, some filters can be added to narrow down specific messages you want your service to receive. 

Let’s look at one quick example for better clarity of the concept; 

Consider the following scenario of having an online eCommerce store, and a customer buys something from the store. 

At such stage, when the order has been inserted, you want to;

a) Update the stock levels consequently 

b) Send the customer a confirmation Email, so they can be kept in the loop that you are processing their order. 

You must be wondering, are there any messaging styles for message brokers? – Yes, there are. 

Messaging Styles

As now having discussed message brokers and their parts, let’s examine different messaging styles. Types being;

  • Point-to-point messaging 
  • Publish subscribe messaging                                  

1.  Point to Point Messaging 

Point-to-point messaging uses queues so the message senders and receivers’ have a one-to-one relationship. Such messaging styles are used when a guarantee is required that every message will best be sent/consumed only once.

i.e. this type of messaging style is used for financial transactions. 

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2.  Publish Subscribe Messaging 

Publish subscribe lets the producer of the messages send it towards a topic. A consumer subscribes to these topics and receives the information sent by producers. This relationship between sender and receivers can be termed as one-to-many. 

When a message gets published to a topic, it shall reach all of the applications that have a subscriber to that particular topic. 

But when is it ideal to use this kind of messaging style? 

For instance, if a logistics driver has to provide updates about the situation on the road, precisely about the delay between different borders, the personnel waiting to handle the cargo will be notified of any possible delays, so they can go on with their work while waiting.

Additionally, suppose these updates are to be made in a system that is designed for communication among the drivers. In that case, the other drivers will know and strategize their plans according to the newly risen circumstances. 

As stated before, message brokers have many advantages and versatile real-world applications. 

Benefits of a Message Broker

1. Message brokers offer communication between services that might not be running simultaneously.

2. Boosting system performance via distributing tasks to separate processes, thus increasing speed and offering a better user experience. 

3. Increased reliability with a guarantee that a message will be transmitted. As we have discussed, even if there is a consumer failure, the message can still be redelivered. 

There are some shortcomings too – but the benefits outweigh them by a landslide. 

Shortcomings

1. Amplified complexity, using message brokers shall add a layer to your system architecture, and more details will arise to be kept in account. Such as maintenance of the network in between the components in addition to potential security risks. 

2. A sharp learning curve at the start 

3. Debugging can get tricky because the message broker you choose shall come with its logs, so it is recommended to implement logging on your own, making processes smoother and your life easier. 

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