Worker and Background Tasks

While channel layers are primarily designed for communicating between different instances of ASGI applications, they can also be used to offload work to a set of worker servers listening on fixed channel names, as a simple, very-low-latency task queue.

Note

The worker/background tasks system in Channels is simple and very fast, and achieves this by not having some features you may find useful, such as retries or return values.

We recommend you use it for work that does not need guarantees around being complete (at-most-once delivery), and for work that needs more guarantees, look into a separate dedicated task queue like Celery.

Setting up background tasks works in two parts - sending the events, and then setting up the consumers to receive and process the events.

Sending

To send an event, just send it to a fixed channel name. For example, let’s say we want a background process that pre-caches thumbnails:

# Inside a consumer
self.channel_layer.send(
    "thumbnails-generate",
    {
        "type": "generate",
        "id": 123456789,
    },
)

Note that the event you send must have a type key, even if only one type of message is being sent over the channel, as it will turn into an event a consumer has to handle.

Receiving and Consumers

Channels will present incoming worker tasks to you as events inside a scope with a type of channel, and a channel key matching the channel name. We recommend you use ProtocolTypeRouter and ChannelNameRouter (see Routing for more) to arrange your consumers:

application = ProtocolTypeRouter({
    ...
    "channel": ChannelNameRouter({
        "thumbnails-generate": consumers.GenerateConsumer,
        "thunbnails-delete": consumers.DeleteConsumer,
    }),
})

You’ll be specifying the type values of the individual events yourself when you send them, so decide what your names are going to be and write consumers to match. For example, here’s a basic consumer that expects to receive an event with type test.print, and a text value containing the text to print:

class PrintConsumer(SyncConsumer):
    def test_print(self, message):
        print("Test: " + message["text"])

Once you’ve hooked up the consumers, all you need to do is run a process that will handle them. In lieu of a protocol server - as there are no connections involved here - Channels instead provides you this with the runworker command:

./manage.py runworker thumbnails-generate thumbnails-delete

Note that runworker will only listen to the channels you pass it on the command line. If you do not include a channel, or forget to run the worker, your events will not be received and acted upon.