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Programming language: JavaScript
License: MIT License
Tags: Nodejs     Job Queues     Queue     Node     Task     Worker     Job     Aws     Sqs    
Latest version: v6.1.1

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Job queues and scheduled jobs for Node.js backed by Beanstalk/IronMQ/SQS.

The Why

You've got a workload that runs outside the Web app's request/response cycle. Some jobs are queued, some are scheduled. You decided to use Beanstalk and/or IronMQ. Now you need a simple API to code against, that will handle all the run-time intricacies for you.

Beanstalk is "a simple, fast work queue". It's easy to setup (brew install beanstalkd on the Mac), easy to tinker with (telnet localhost 11300), and persistently reliable.

IronMQ is "the Message Queue for the Cloud". It's a managed queue service with a nice UI, an excellent choice for production systems. And can handle much of the webhooks workload for you.

SQS is Amazon Web Services' fully managed queues product. It supports FIFO queues, dead-letter queues, and can be connected with SNS. Another great choice if you're into AWS.

The thing is, standalone Beanstalk is great for development and testing, I just don't want to manage a production server. IronMQ and SQS are wonderful services, but painful to use for development/testing.

Ironium allows you to use either/all in the same project.


Ironium has a simple API with three primary methods:

  • queueJob to push a job into a queue
  • eachJob to process all jobs from the queue
  • scheduleJob to run a job on a given schedule

There are a few more methods to help you with managing workers, running tests, and working with webhooks.


Returns the named queue. Calling this method with the same name will always return the same queue. Queues are created on-the-fly, you don't need to setup anything before accessing a queue.

You can immediately push new jobs into the queue. To process all jobs, you need to first start the workers. This distinction allows you to push jobs from any Node.js servers, but only process jobs from specific nodes.

For example, your code may have:

const Ironium          = require('ironium');
const sendWelcomeEmail = Ironium.queue('send-welcome-email');

// If this is a new customer, queue sending welcome email.
customer.on('save', function(next) {
  if (this.isNew)
      .then(() => next())

sendWelcomeEmail.eachJob(function(id) {
  // Do something to render and send email
  return Promise.resolve();

As you can see from this example, each queue has three interesting methods, queueJob, delayJob and eachJob.

queueJob(queueName, job)


Pushes a new job into the queue. The job is serialized as JSON, so objects, arrays and strings all work as expected.

Returns a promise that resolves to the job ID.

Calling Ironium.queueJob(name, job) is the same as Ironium.queue(name).queueJob(job).

For example:

const echoQueue = Ironium.queue('echo');

const job = {
  message: 'wow, such workers, much concurrency'

echoQueue.queueJob(job, function(error) {
  if (error)
    console.error('No echo for you!');

Because this function returns a promise, you can also do this in your test suite:

before(()=> echoQueue.queueJob(job));

And this, if you're using ES7:

await echoQueue.queueJob(job);


Same as queueJob but usually more efficient if you're queuing multiple jobs.

queue.delayJob(job, duration)

Similar to queueJob but delays processing of the job by the set duration.

Duration is either a number or a string. The default unit is milliseconds, but you can specify a string with units, such as "5m" or "3 hours".

Valid units are ms, seconds, minutes, hours, days and years. You can write each unit as plural ("1 hours"), singular ("1 hour") or first letter only ("1h").

eachJob(queueName, handler)


Processes jobs from the queue. In addition to calling this method, you need to either start the workers (see start method), or run all queued jobs once (see runOnce).

The job handler is a function that takes one argument: the job payload.

The job handler must return a promise that resolves when the job completes.

For example:

Ironium.queue('echo').eachJob(async function(job) {
  console.log('Echo', job.message);
  await fnReturningPromise();
  await anotherAsyncFunction();

Using vanilla promises:

Ironium.queue('echo').eachJob(function(job) {
  console.log('Echo', job.message);
  return fnReturningPromise()

The promise must be resolved within 10 minutes. Jobs that don't complete within that time frame are considered to have failed, and returned to the queue. Timeouts are necessary evil, given that jobs may fail to report completion and the halting problem is still NP hard.

If a failed job is returned to the queue, it will go into the delayed state and stay there for a few minutes, before it can be picked up again. This delay prevents processing bugs and transient errors (e.g. connection issues) from resulting in a DoS attack on your error log.

You can attach multiple handlers to the same queue, and each job will go to all the handlers. If any handler fails to process the job, it will return to the queue.

When processing webhooks, some services send valid JSON objects, while other services send text strings, so be ready to process those as well. For example, some services send form encoded pairs, so you may need to handle them like this:

const QS = require('querystring');

Ironium.queue('webhook').eachJob(function(job) {
  const params = QS.parse(job);
  return Promise.resolve();


You can use this to queue jobs from a Node stream. It returns a duplex stream to which you can write a stream of jobs, and read back a stream of job IDs.

For example:



This property returns the queue name.

This name does not include the prefix.


This method resolves to the webhook URL of the named queue.

Since configuration can load asynchronously, this method returns a promise, not the actual URL. The webhook URL only makes sense when using IronMQ, Beanstalk and SQS do not support this feature.

NOTE: The webhook URL includes your project ID and access token, so be careful where you share it.

scheduleJob(jobName, when, handler)

Schedules the named job to run at the specified time.

Each schedule has a unique name, this is used for reporting, and to prevent accidental duplicate schedules. However, you can create two schedules using the same job.

The scheduled time can be a Date, in which case the job will run once at the given time. It can be an interval, in which case the job will run repeatedly at the given interval. The interval can be number (in ms), or a string that can takes the form of "90s", "5m", "4h", etc. The minimum interval is 60 seconds.

The scheduled time can also be an object with the properties start, end and every. If the property every is specified, the job will run every so many milliseconds.

If the property start is specified, the job will run once at the specified time, and if every is also specified, repeatedly afterwards. If the property end is specified, the job will stop running after that time.

Just like a queued job, the scheduled job handler is expected to return a promise that resolves on job completion.

For example:

Ironium.scheduleJob('inAnHour', new Date().getTime() + ms('1h'), function() {
  console.log("I run once, after an hour");
  return Promise.resolve();

const schedule = {
  every: ms('2h'),                         // Every two hours
  end:   new Date().getTime() + ms('24h'), // End in 24 hours
Ironium.scheduleJob('everyTwoForADay', schedule, async function() {
  console.log("I run every 2 hours for 24 hours");
  const customers = await Customer.findAll();
  for (const customer of customers)
    await customer.increase('awesome');

configure(object | promise)

Configure the workers, see Configuring.


You must call this method to start the workers. Until you call this method, no scheduled or queued jobs are processed.

The start method allows you to run the same codebase in multiple environments, but only enable processing on select servers. For testing, have a look at runOnce.


You can call this method to stop the workers.


Reset the next run time for all scheduled jobs. Used during testing when changing the system clock to test scheduled jobs, in particular, rewinding the clock.

Ironium.scheduleJob('every-night', '24h', runEveryNight);

// Job now scheduled for 7/1 00:00 because it will run every 24 hours,
// starting at 00:00 on the next day

Ironium.runOnce(); // Nothing happens

// Job runs once, now scheduled for 7/2 00:00

// Nothing happens because next run is 7/2

// Job now scheduled for 7/1 00:00 again


Use this method when testing. It will run all schedules jobs, and then process all queued jobs until the queues are empty.

Returns a promise that resolves when all jobs have been processed.

This method exists since there's no reliable way to use start and stop for running automated tests.

With regards to scheduled jobs, each job has a schedule when it will run next. Calling runOnce will run that job if its time has come. It will also adjust the next time the job should run. You may also need to use resetSchedule.

For example:

const queue = Ironium.queue('echo');
const echo  = [];

Ironium.scheduleJob('echo-foo', '24h', function() {
  return queue.queueJob('foo');

queue.eachJob(function(text) {
  return Promise.resolve();

before(function() {
  // Job now scheduled for 7/1 at 00:00

// Queue another job
before(function() {
  return queue.queueJob('bar');

before(function() {
  // Running the scheduled job, followed by the two queued jobs
  // Returns a promise, Mocha will wait for it to resolve
  return Ironium.runOnce();

it("should have run the foo scheduled job", function() {
  assert(echo.indexOf('foo') >= 0);

it("should have run the bar job", function() {
  assert(echo.indexOf('bar') >= 0);

after(function() {

Both scheduled and delayed jobs can be tested by mocking Date, also known as time traveling by tools like TimeKeeper.


Use this method when testing. It will delete all queued jobs.

Returns a promise that resolves when all jobs have been deleted.

For example:


Is equivalent to:

before(function() {
  return Ironium.purgeQueues();

Note: Mocha before/after runners accept functions that return a promise. This is the case for the methods start, stop, runOnce and purgeQueues. In addition, since these methods are bound to an instance of Ironium, you can pass the method directly as an argument to before or after.


By default Ironium produces no messages to the console. You can ask it to log to the console by setting the DEBUG environment variable to ironium or ironium:* (for more information, see debug).

For example:

# See processing errors
DEBUG=ironium npm start
# See queues and scheduling activity
DEBUG=ironium:queues,ironium:schedules npm start
# Everything
DEBUG=ironium:* npm start

In addition, you can register a callback to be notified of job processing errors:

Ironium.onerror(function(error, subject) {
  console.error('Error reported by', subject);

Because Ironium expects some jobs will fail, and will retry them until successful, you do not have to listen to its error event. This event will not cause the program to exit.


For development and testing you can typically get by with the default configuration. For production, you may want to set the server in use, as simple as passing a configuration object to Ironium.configure:

const Ironium = require('ironium');

if (process.env.NODE_ENV === 'production')
    host: 'my.beanstalkd.server'

Or load it form a JSON configuration file:

const Ironium = require('ironium');
const config  = require('./iron.json');

if (process.env.NODE_ENV === 'production')

You can also use a promise that resolves to an object with all configuration properties.

The configuration options are:

  "host":         <hostname, optional>,
  "project_id":   <project ID from credentials settings>,
  "token":        <access token for this project>,
  "prefix":       <prefix all queue names>,
  "concurrency":  <number of jobs processed concurrently>

If you're running in development or test environment with a local Beanstalkd server, you can just use the default configuration, which points to localhost, port 11300.

The default configuration when running in test environment (NODE_ENV === 'test') uses the prefix test- for all queues.

If you're running in production against a Beanstalkd, you will likely need to set queues.host and queues.port.

If you're running in production against Iron.io, you need to set host, project_id and token based on your project credentials. This is the same format as iron.json.

By default, Ironium will process 50 jobs concurrently. You can change this value using the concurrency option or by setting the IRONIUM_CONCURRENCY environment variable.

Processing a subset of queues

If you want to isolate workloads, you can tell Ironium to only process some of the queues.

For simple whitelisting, use the IRONIUM_QUEUES environment variable:

env IRONIUM_QUEUES=queue1,queue2 npm start

For more advanced behavior, pass your own function in the configuration:

  canStartQueue(queueName) {
    return queueName.startsWith('some-prefix');

Testing Your Code

The default test configuration (NODE_ENV === 'test') connects to Beanstalkd on localhost, and prefixes all queue names with test-, so they don't conflict with any queues used during development.

Codeship has Beanstalkd installed on test servers, if using Travis, you will need to install it specifically, see our [.travis.yml](.travis.yml).


Ironium is written in ECMAScript 6, because future.

You can run the entire test suite with npm test (Travis runs this), or specific files/tests with Mocha.