Serverless Plugin Pubsub

Simple pub/sub configuration with queueing for the Serverless Framework

Serverless PubSub

Simple pub/sub configuration with queuing for the Serverless Framework

Motivation

Publish/subscribe is a pattern used in message mediated architectures that is meant to decouple logical units in a codebase or software system. Serverless computing, or more specifically, Function-as-a-Service computing, caters rather well to a messaging infrastructure, since "serverless" functions are configured and priced to be ephemeral units of execution that allow for easy chaining.

Many of the major platforms offer their own tooling and services for implementing pub/sub in your serverless stacks. In the AWS landscape, pub/sub is made possible through the Simple Notification Service, which exposes topics to which functions can either publish or subscribe. As one of AWS's older offerings, SNS is well-understood, feature-rich, and has a native integration with the Serverless framework.

However, there are a number of headaches that one encounters when using SNS as a serverless pub/sub engine, particularly when used with the Serverless framework:

  • Permissions for publishers (and sometimes for subscribers) must be configured manually, either on a topic-by-topic basis or using wildcarding
  • Queuing (through SQS) is an absolute nightmare to set up in conjunction with SNS
  • The Serverless configuration inevitably ends up littered with verbose intrinsic Cloudformation functions
  • The Serverless Cloudformation logical ID normalization process leads to confused configuration, where references to topics on one line look very different than references to the same topic in another line
  • Redundant, last-in-wins, declarations of topic configuration
  • Absence of a local runtime for testing pub/sub functions

With those limitations in mind, this plugin aims to provide the following for those looking to implement easy and readable pub/sub into their configurations:

  • Consistent naming of topics across the configuration
  • Easy injection of topic Arns into a function's runtime environment
  • Common configuration of shared topic configuration in a single location
  • Easy queuing configuration for throttling incoming messages using Amazon SQS
  • Simple creation of topics, even if they do not have subscribers
  • Syntax that blends in seamlessly by following commonly used Serverless config syntaxes
  • A high-degree of customization, when desired, so that the developer can take advantage of all the features AWS has to offer
  • Automatic permission generation that aims for least-privilege topic/queue/function access (no wild-carding!)
  • A local runtime for executing pub/sub functions

Installation

Install the plugin with:

npm install --save-dev serverless-plugin-pubsub

And add the following to your Serverless confing:

plugins:
  - serverless-plugin-pubsub

Usage

Subscriber

Topics

To add a pub/sub event, simply use the pubSub event syntax on a new or existing function. In its simplest form, all you need to provide is a topic name:

functions:
  myTopicConsumer:
    handler: mymodule.myhandler
    events:
      - pubSub: my-first-topic

You can also use the topic key to provide the name:

functions:
  myTopicConsumer:
    handler: mymodule.myhandler
    events:
      - pubSub:
          topic: my-first-topic

External Topics

You may also have need to subscribe to a topic that is managed outside of this service. For this use-case, simply provide a hard coded arn value for the topic (in addition to a unique topic name).

functions:
  myExternalTopicConsumer:
    handler: mymodule.myhandler
    events:
      - pubSub:
          topic:
            name: my-external-topic
            arn: arn:aws:sns:us-east-1:12345:my-external-topic
            # You may also use intrinsic functions as well:
            # arn:
            #   Fn::Join
            #     - ':'
            #     - - arn:aws:sns:us-east-1
            #       - AWS::AccountId
            #       - my-external-topic
          queue: true

Queues

It is often advantageous to have a message queue as an intermediary between your topic and your function. This can be used to throttle message activity (using reserved function concurrency) or toggle message consumption without losing incoming messages.

To place a queue as an intermediary between your topic and your function, simply set the queue or queue.name parameter to true (it is false, by default) or to the desired name of the queue. If you do not specify a queue name, one will be generated based on the function name.

functions:
  myTopicConsumer:
    handler: mymodule.myhandler
    events:
      - pubSub:
          topic: my-first-topic
          queue: true # resolves to myTopicConsumer-queue

Publisher

To inject a SNS topic Arn into the runtime environment of a function, simply use the ${pubSubTopic:<topic key>} syntax in the environment section of the function config.

functions:
  myPublisher:
    handler: mymodule.myhandler
    environment:
      PUBLISH_TOPIC_ARN: ${pubSubTopic:my-first-topic}

In the Lambda runtime, this will resolve as the SNS Topic Arn. The following is an example of using in a NodeJS publisher:

//handler.js
const AWS = require('aws-sdk');

const SNS = new AWS.SNS();

module.exports = {
  handler: async () => {
    await SNS.publish({
      Message: 'hello world',
      TopicArn: process.env.PUBLISH_TOPIC_ARN // e.g. arn:aws:sns:us-east-1:123456789:my-first-topic
    }).promise()
  }
};

Note: if a topic is referenced with the pubSubTopic anywhere in the stack, it will be created as a part of the stack regardless of whether it has a corresponding subscriber. This allows for a lot of important configurations, such as cross-service subscription and future extensibility, and it ensures your Lambda doesn't fail trying to publish to a non-existent topic.

Advanced Configuration

More detailed CloudFormation configuration can be added to both topics and queues in order to tweak the performance or behavior of the service. These are configured in the custom section of the serverless configuration, and not at the function level. This ensures that if a topic or queue is referenced in multiple places, they will be deployed using only one configuration. The topic and queue accept parameters for AWS::SNS::Topic and AWS::SQS::Queue respectively.

functions:
  myTopicConsumer:
    handler: mymodule.myhandler
    events:
      - pubSub:
          topic: my-first-topic
          queue: myTopicConsumer-queue
  myPublisher:
    handler: mymodule.myhandler
    environment:
      PUBLISH_TOPIC_ARN: ${pubSubTopic:my-first-topic}

custom:
  pubSub:
    topics:
      my-first-topic:
        DisplayName: MyFirstTopic
    queues:
      myTopicConsumer-queue:
        MessageRetentionPeriod: 60

Cloudformation configuration can also be added to the topic/queue subscriptions, by using the subscription keyword. This should be specified at the functions since a subscription is inherently unique. The topic.subscription and queue.subscription accept Cloudformation properties for AWS::SNS::Subscription and AWS::Lambda::EventSourceMapping respectively. Note that if a queue is not specified, the AWS::SNS::Subscription will use the lambda protocol, not the sqs protocol.

functions:
  myTopicConsumer:
    handler: mymodule.myhandler
    events:
      - pubSub:
          topic:
            name: my-first-topic
            subscription:
              DeliveryPolicy:
                throttlePolicy:
                  maxReceivesPerSecond: 3
          queue:
            name: myTopicConsumer-queue
            subscription:
              BatchSize: 1

It is often the case that you want to set default values for Cloudformation configuration across the entire service. You can do that using custom.pubSub.defaults.(queues|topics|queueSubscriptions|topicSubscriptions). Note that defaults will be overwritten if defined at the resource level.

custom:
  pubSub:
    defaults:
      topics:
        KmsMasterKeyId: my-key-id
      queues:
        MessageRetentionPeriod: 60
      queueSubscriptions:
        BatchSize: 1
      topicSubscriptions:
        DeliveryPolicy:
          throttlePolicy:
            maxReceivesPerSecond: 3

Offline Mode

This plugin features an offline mode, which spins up a local server for testing your integration offline:

serverless pubSub offline

The command setups up a mock SNS server to receive SNS::Publish requests and directs them to the configured pubSub functions using serverless invoke local.

Additionally, when the plugin is installed, the SNS_ENDPOINT_URL variable will be injected into the runtime environment for publishing to the mock SNS server. You can use this to direct an AWS SDK to use this SNS endpoint instead of the real one.

const AWS = require('aws-sdk');

const SNS_ENDPOINT_URL = process.env.SNS_ENDPOINT_URL || undefined;
const SNS = new AWS.SNS({endpoint: SNS_ENDPOINT_URL});

The following options are configurable under custom.pubSub.offline:

  • host the host name of the server (default: localhost)
  • port the port where the server should be exposed (default: 3100)

Contributing

Please open a Github issue with any bug reports or feature suggestions.

Feel free to open a pull request with any additions or enhancements. A failing test would be appreciated to understand the issue better and prevent it from recurring in the future.

To install:

npm install

To run tests:

npm test
# or
npm test --- --watch
view on Github

Latest commit b2f54ec on Sep 24, 2017

New to serverless?

To get started, pop open your terminal & run:

npm install serverless -g