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Abejide Ayodele

Software Engineer

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Apache Kafka is a high-throughput distributed messaging system.

It is:

  • Fast (A single Kafka broker can handle hundreds of megabytes of reads and writes per second from thousands of clients);
  • Scalable (Kafka is designed to allow a single cluster to serve as the central data backbone for a large organization. It can be elastically and transparently expanded without downtime. Data streams are partitioned and spread over a cluster of machines to allow data streams larger than the capability of any single machine and to allow clusters of co-ordinated consumers);
  • Durable (Messages are persisted on disk and replicated within the cluster to prevent data loss. Each broker can handle terabytes of messages without performance impact);
  • Distributed by Design (Kafka has a modern cluster-centric design that offers strong durability and fault-tolerance guarantees).[1]

This post intends to explore how to integrate with Kafka from Elixir, the post assumes you have some knowledge of Elixir if not checkout the Elixir getting started.

Setting up Kafka

We would set up Kafka from docker images (for production use consider http://kafka.apache.org/documentation.html#quickstart) using fig

$ git clone git@github.com:bjhaid/kafka_docker.git
$ cd kafka-docker/
$ fig up

We should have our kafka/zookeeper nodes up and running.

Create Kafka project

$ mix new kafka_ex_demo
$ cd kafka_ex_demo/

Edit the mix.exs as below:


 def application do
   [applications: [:logger, :kafka_ex]]

 defp deps do
     {:kafka_ex, "~> 0.0.2"},


Get kafka_ex

$ mix deps.get

Update the application config (config/config.exs) to include the kafka node:

use Mix.Config

config KafkaEx,
  brokers: [{"", 49154}]

Make sure the above matches what you have in your kafka logs.


We would create a producer that runs in a infinite loop sleeping every 500ms and producing current time, create lib/producer.exs and add the below:

producer_fn = fn ->
  helper_fun = fn(fun) ->
    KafkaEx.produce("kafka", 0, (inspect :os.timestamp))



Open a new shell and run:

$ mix run lib/producer.exs


To grab metadata for the topic we produced above, create lib/metadata.exs and add:

IO.inspect KafkaEx.metadata(topic: "kafka")

Open a new shell and run:

$ mix run lib/metadata.exs

%{brokers: %{49154 => {"", 49154}},
  topics: %{"kafka" => %{error_code: 0,
      partitions: %{0 => %{error_code: 0, isrs: [49154], leader: 49154,
          replicas: [49154]}}}}}


To consume messages and print to console the messages published to the kafka topic, create lib/consumer.exs and add:

IO.inspect KafkaEx.fetch("kafka", 0, 0)

Open a shell and run:

$ mix run lib/consumer.exs

You would get an output similar to:

 %{"kafka" => %{0 => %{error_code: 0, hw_mark_offset: 654,
       message_set: [%{attributes: 0, crc: 2792772004, key: nil, offset: 0,
          value: "{1427, 640108, 212625}"},
        %{attributes: 0, crc: 4244189747, key: nil, offset: 1,
          value: "{1427, 640109, 250613}"},

Note value: "{1427, 640108, 212625}", and value: "{1427, 640109, 250613}" is from inspect :os.timestamp from the producer


To stream messages from the kafka topic and print the message to console, create lib/stream.exs and add:

for message <- KafkaEx.stream("kafka", 0, worker_name: :streaming_worker) do
  IO.puts "Got #{inspect message}"

Open a shell and run:

$ mix run lib/stream.exs

You would get an output similar to:

Got %{attributes: 0, crc: 2792772004, key: nil, offset: 0, value: "{1427, 640108, 212625}"}
Got %{attributes: 0, crc: 4244189747, key: nil, offset: 1, value: "{1427, 640109, 250613}"}
Got %{attributes: 0, crc: 2678133112, key: nil, offset: 2, value: "{1427, 640109, 759012}"}
Got %{attributes: 0, crc: 1683310624, key: nil, offset: 3, value: "{1427, 640110, 271154}"}
Got %{attributes: 0, crc: 2197677395, key: nil, offset: 4, value: "{1427, 640110, 783484}"}

KafkaEx.stream implements the Enumerable protocol, so you can use it with functions from the Enum and Stream modules, this allows us to do very fancy MapReduce operations on the messages as they arrive.


To fetch offsets for the kafka topic, create lib/offset.exs and add:

IO.puts "Earliest offset is: #{inspect KafkaEx.earliest_offset("kafka", 0)}"
IO.puts "Latest offset is: #{inspect KafkaEx.latest_offset("kafka", 0)}"

Open a shell and run:

$ mix run lib/offset.exs

You would get an output similar to:

Earliest offset is: {:ok, %{"kafka" => %{0 => %{error_code: 0, offsets: [0]}}}}
Latest offset is: {:ok, %{"kafka" => %{0 => %{error_code: 0, offsets: [654]}}}}

The examples shown can be found here.

  1. http://kafka.apache.org/