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Explore NATS Pub/Sub

NATS is a publish subscribe messaging system. Subscribers listening on a subject receive messages on that subject. If the subscriber is not actively listening on the subject, the message is not received. Subscribers can use the wildcard tokens such as * and > to match a single token or to match the tail of a subject.

digraph nats_pub_sub { graph [splines=ortho, nodesep=1]; sub1 [shape="box", label="SUB\"]; pub1 [shape="box", label="PUB\"]; non_active [shape="box", label="Non-Active\nSubscriber"]; { rank=same pub1 sub1 non_active } natsserver [shape="box", label="NATS", width=8]; sub2 [shape="box", label="SUB\"]; sub3 [shape="box", label="SUB\ncom.msg.two"]; sub4 [shape="box", label="SUB\ncom.msg.*"]; { rank=same sub2 sub3 sub4 } pub1 -> natsserver [penwidth=2]; natsserver -> sub1 [penwidth=2]; natsserver -> non_active [style=dashed color=red arrowhead="none"]; natsserver -> sub2 [penwidth=2]; natsserver -> sub3 [style=dashed color=red arrowhead="none"]; natsserver -> sub4 [penwidth=2]; }


Go and the NATS server should be installed. Optionally you can use the demo server located at nats://

1. Start the NATS server

% nats-server

When the server starts successfully, you will see the following messages:

[1] 2019/31/05 15:18:22.301550 [INF] Starting nats-server version 2.0.0
[1] 2019/31/05 15:18:22.301762 [INF] Listening for client connections on
[1] 2019/31/05 15:18:22.301769 [INF] nats-server is ready

The NATS server listens for client connections on TCP Port 4222.

2. Start a shell or command prompt session

You will use this session to run an example NATS client subscriber program.

3. CD to the Go client examples directory

% cd $GOPATH/src/

4. Run the client subscriber program

% go run nats-sub/main.go <subject>

Where <subject> is a subject to listen on. A valid subject is a string that is unique in the system.

For example:

% go run nats-sub/main.go msg.test

You should see the message: Listening on [msg.test]

5. Start another shell or command prompt session

You will use this session to run a NATS publisher client.

6. CD to the examples directory

% cd $GOPATH/src/

7. Publish a NATS message

% go run nats-pub/main.go <subject> <message>

Where <subject> is the subject name and <message> is the text to publish.

For example:

% go run nats-pub/main.go msg.test hello


% go run nats-pub/main.go msg.test "NATS MESSAGE"

8. Verify message publication and receipt

You should see that the publisher sends the message: Published [msg.test] : 'NATS MESSAGE'

And that the subscriber receives the message: [#1] Received on [msg.test]: 'NATS MESSAGE'

Note that if the receiver does not get the message, check that you are using the same subject name for the publisher and the subscriber.

9. Publish another message

% go run nats-pub/main.go msg.test "NATS MESSAGE 2"

You should see that the subscriber receive message 2. Note that the message count is incremented each time your subscribing client receives a message on that subject:

10. Start another shell or command prompt session

You will use this session to run a second NATS subscriber.

11. CD to the examples directory

% cd $GOPATH/src/

12. Subscribe to the message

% go run nats-sub/main.go msg.test

13. Publish another message using the publisher client

% go run nats-pub/main.go msg.test "NATS MESSAGE 3"

Verify that both subscribing clients receive the message.

14. Start another shell or command prompt session

You will use this session to run a third NATS subscriber.

15. CD to the examples directory

% cd $GOPATH/src/

16. Subscribe to a different message

% go run nats-sub/main.go

All the but last subscriber receives the message. Why? Because that subscriber is not listening on the message subject used by the publisher.

17. Update the last subscriber to use a wildcard

NATS supports the use of wildcard characters for message subscribers. You cannot publish a message using a wildcard subject.

Change the last subscriber the listen on msg.* and run it:

% go run nats-sub/main.go msg.*

18. Publish another message

This time, all three subscribing clients should receive the message.

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