django postgres queue

A task queue for django



django-postgres-queue is a task queue system for Django backed by postgres.

Why postgres?

I thought you were never supposed to use an RDBMS as a queue? Well, postgres
has some features that make it not as bad as you might think, it has some
compelling advantages.

  • Transactional behavior and reliability.

    Adding tasks is atomic with respect to other database work. There is no need
    to use transaction.on_commit hooks and there is no risk of a transaction
    being committed but the tasks it queued being lost.

    Processing tasks is atomic with respect to other database work. Database work
    done by a task will either be committed, or the task will not be marked as
    processed, no exceptions. If the task only does database work, you achieve
    true exactly-once message processing.

  • Operational simplicity

    By reusing the durable, transactional storage that we’re already using
    anyway, there’s no need to configure, monitor, and backup another stateful
    service. For small teams and light workloads, this is the right trade-off.

  • Easy introspection

    Since tasks are stored in a database table, it’s easy to query and monitor
    the state of the queue.

  • Safety

    By using postgres transactions, there is no possibility of jobs being left in
    a locked or ambiguous state if a worker dies. Tasks immediately become
    available for another worker to pick up. You can even kill -9 a worker
    and be sure your database and queue will be left in a consistent state.

  • Priority queues

    Since ordering is specified explicitly when selecting the next task to work
    on, it’s easy to ensure high-priority tasks are processed first.


  • Lower throughput than a dedicated queue server.
  • Harder to scale a relational database than a dedicated queue server.
  • Thundering herd. Postgres has no way to notify a single worker to wake up, so
    we can either wake every single worker up when a task is queued with
    LISTEN/NOTIFY, or workers have to short-poll.
  • With at-least-once delivery, a postgres transaction has to be held open for
    the duration of the task. For long running tasks, this can cause table bloat
    and performance problems.
  • When a task crashes or raises an exception under at-least-once delivery, it
    immediately becomes eligible to be retried. If you want to implement a retry
    delay, you must catch exceptions and requeue the task with a delay. If your
    task crashes without throwing an exception (eg SIGKILL), you could end up in
    an endless retry loop that prevents other tasks from being processed.

How it works

django-postgres-queue is able to claim, process, and remove a task in a single

… code:: sql

WHERE id = (
    SELECT id
    FROM dpq_job
    WHERE execute_at <= now()
    ORDER BY priority DESC, created_at
    LIMIT 1

As soon as this query runs, the task is unable to be claimed by other workers.
When the transaction commits, the task will be deleted. If the transaction
rolls back or the worker crashes, the task will immediately become available
for another worker.

To achieve at-least-once delivery, we begin a transaction, process the task,
then commit the transaction. For at-most-once, we claim the task and
immediately commit the transaction, then process the task. For tasks that don’t
have any external effects and only do database work, the at-least-once behavior
is actually exactly-once (because both the claiming of the job and the database
work will commit or rollback together).

Comparison to Celery

django-postgres-queue fills the same role as Celery. In addition to to using
postgres as its backend, its intended to be simpler, without any of the funny
business Celery does (metaprogramming, messing with logging, automatically
importing modules). There is boilerplate to make up for the lack of
metaprogramming, but I find that better than importing things by strings.



django-postgres-queue requires Python 3, at least postgres 9.5 and at least
Django 1.11.


Install with pip::

pip install django-postgres-queue

Then add 'dpq' to your INSTALLED_APPS. Run migrate to
create the jobs table.

Instantiate a queue object. This can go wherever you like and be named whatever
you like. For example, someapp/

… code:: python

from dpq.queue import AtLeastOnceQueue

queue = AtLeastOnceQueue(
        # ...

You will need to import this queue instance to queue or process tasks. Use
AtLeastOnceQueue for at-least-once delivery, or AtMostOnceQueue for
at-most-once delivery.

django-postgres-queue comes with a management command base class that you can
use to consume your tasks. It can be called whatever you like, for example in a

… code:: python

from dpq.commands import Worker

from someapp.queue import queue

class Command(Worker):
    queue = queue

Then you can run worker to start your worker.

A task function takes two arguments – the queue instance in use, and the Job
instance for this task. The function can be defined anywhere and called
whatever you like. Here’s an example:

… code:: python

def debug_task(queue, job):

To register it as a task, add it to your queue instance:

… code:: python

queue = AtLeastOnceQueue(tasks={
    'debug_task': debug_task,

The key is the task name, used to queue the task. It doesn’t have to match the
function name.

To queue the task, use enqueue method on your queue instance:

… code:: python

queue.enqueue('debug_task', {'some_args': 0})

Assuming you have a worker running for this queue, the task will be run
immediately. The second argument must be a single json-serializeable value and
will be available to the task as job.args.


Tasks are just database rows stored in the dpq_job table, so you can
monitor the system with SQL.

To get a count of current tasks:

… code:: sql

SELECT count(*) FROM dpq_job WHERE execute_at <= now()

This will include both tasks ready to process and tasks currently being
processed. To see tasks currently being processed, we need visibility into
postgres row locks. This can be provided by the pgrowlocks extension <>_. Once
installed, this query will count currently-running tasks:

… code:: sql

SELECT count(*)
FROM pgrowlocks('dpq_job')
WHERE 'For Update' = ANY(modes);

You could join the results of pgrowlocks with dpq_job to get the full
list of tasks in progress if you want.


django-postgres-queue logs through Python’s logging framework, so can be
configured with the LOGGING dict in your Django settings. It will not log
anything under the default config, so be sure to configure some form of
logging. Everything is logged under the dpq namespace. Here is an example
configuration that will log INFO level messages to stdout:

… code:: python

    'version': 1,
    'root': {
        'level': 'DEBUG',
        'handlers': ['console'],
    'formatters': {
        'verbose': {
            'format': '%(levelname)s %(asctime)s %(module)s %(process)d %(thread)d %(message)s',
    'handlers': {
        'console': {
            'level': 'INFO',
            'class': 'logging.StreamHandler',
            'formatter': 'verbose',
    'loggers': {
        'dpq': {
            'handlers': ['console'],
            'level': 'INFO',
            'propagate': False,

It would also be sensible to log WARNING and higher messages to something like

… code:: python

    'version': 1,
    'root': {
        'level': 'INFO',
        'handlers': ['sentry', 'console'],
    'formatters': {
        'verbose': {
            'format': '%(levelname)s %(asctime)s %(module)s %(process)d %(thread)d %(message)s',
    'handlers': {
        'console': {
            'level': 'INFO',
            'class': 'logging.StreamHandler',
            'formatter': 'verbose',
        'sentry': {
            'level': 'WARNING',
            'class': 'raven.contrib.django.handlers.SentryHandler',
    'loggers': {
        'dpq': {
            'level': 'INFO',
            'handlers': ['console', 'sentry'],
            'propagate': False,

You could also log to a file by using the built-in logging.FileHandler.

Useful Recipes

These recipes aren’t officially supported features of django-postgres-queue.
We provide them so that you can mimic some of the common features in other
task queues.

Running tasks in tests

When testing code that queues tasks, it can be useful to explicitly run all the
pending tasks from your test. To do this, you can use:

… code:: python

while queue.run_once(): pass

This will run all the tasks that have been queued so far, and you can now
assert that they did the right thing.


Celery uses the CELERY_ALWAYS_EAGER setting to run a task immediately,
without queueing it for a worker. It could be used during tests, and while
debugging in a development environment with any workers turned off.

… code:: python

class EagerAtLeastOnceQueue(AtLeastOnceQueue):
    def enqueue(self, *args, **kwargs):
        job = super().enqueue(*args, **kwargs)
        if settings.QUEUE_ALWAYS_EAGER:
        return job