[rabbitmq-discuss] rabbitmq-c API improvements for multiple channels

Alan Antonuk alan.antonuk at gmail.com
Wed Dec 14 20:15:41 GMT 2011

I've been working on a c++ wrapper around rabbitmq-c that presents a
"humane" API to the programmer heavily inspired by the Puka project. (see:

In developing this library I've run across several limitations of the
rabbitmq-c when working with multiple channels, the biggest issue being:

- There is no way to wait for a list of methods on a channel.
There is amqp_simple_wait_method() - however this suffers from some serious
+ you can only specify one method to listen for
+ it calls abort() if a different method, or a method on a different
channel is received
A use case for this might be: doing a basic.publish, and you want to want
to wait for a basic.ack or a basic.return on a channel with confirms enabled

The way I got around this in SimpleAmqpClient was to only use
amqp_simple_wait_frame() and maintain queues of amqp_frame_t for each
channel that I have open.

However, this comes with one serious drawback: memory management. Each
decoded frame is allocated in a connection-wide amqp_pool_t.  Because of
this - it is impossible to recycle the pool and release memory unless you
have dealt with all of your pending amqp_frame_t's.  This becomes a problem
in pathological cases where you have two consumers sending simultaneously,
you can get in the situation that even though the client program eventually
deals with every consumed message, memory never gets released, because
there is always at least one frame queued up.

The above demonstrates the second biggest issue with the rabbitmq-c API:
memory management when dealing with multiple channels.  There is no way to
separate out memory allocation on, for example, a per-channel basis (with
the library client keeping track of the memory pools used for example).

Before I go on I'd like to mention one feature that I find useful with the
current API: it is possible to use something like select() before calling
amqp_simple_wait_frame() to setup a timeout while waiting for a consumer,
which is useful when developing single-threaded RPC apps.

So now the interesting part: how could the API be improved?

Some thoughts I've had dealing with the memory management:
1. Create a amqp_simple_wait_frame() variant that as one of the parameters
provides a callback to allocate memory, either something like a malloc()
call, which the client would then be responsible for freeing, or perhaps
something like get_amqp_pool(amqp_frame_t) which allows the client to
return a memory pool which rabbitmq-c would use to allocate memory for that
frame.  The amqp_frame_t would have to have some minimal amount of
information filled in - such as frame type and channel to be useful.

2. amqp_channel_t becomes a struct containing both the the channel_id and a
amqp_pool_t.  The amqp_pool would be used by the library to allocate frames
received on that channel.  The client would then be responsible for calling
amqp_pool_recycle at an appropriate point.

Some thoughts on improving the API to deal with multiple channels:
1. Add the following to the API:
amqp_simple_wait_frame_on_channel - wait for a frame on a specified channel
amqp_simple_wait_methods - wait for multiple methods on a specified
channel. Don't abort() if the wrong method, or channel is received, instead
queue up the frame as is done in amqp_simple_rpc
amqp_frames_enqueued_for_channel to add feature parity with
I started to code this up at one point but abandoned it as it didn't
support the interesting property of being able to use select() to specify a
timeout when calling amqp_simple_wait_frame_on_channel.  At least not
without adding timeout to the rabbitmq-c api, which didn't fit with how the
current rabbitmq-c api. Here's the implementation I came up with before I
abandoned it. I can't guarantee is completely free of bugs.

2. Continue to duck the issue and allow clients to write their own code to
deal with multiple channels (fixing the memory management issue using one
of the above techniques)

3. Something I haven't thought of yet.

So anyone have any thoughts on all of this?

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