Tracing Cloud Pub/Sub messages from start to finish

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The Observability Problem

The Cloud Pub/Sub service provides a convenient way to communicate information as an alternative to a typical request-response model. This makes it an ideal system to use for event-driven applications that are composed of multiple services.

However, the inner workings of Cloud Pub/Sub are largely hidden to the user. This makes debugging the cause of undelivered messages or large gaps between sending and receiving messages much more difficult, as there is not a good way to track a message from when it is published to the point where a subscriber picks it up.

The Problem in Action

Take, for example, a Python chat application that sends messages through the Cloud Pub/Sub service. A message sent from a publisher to a subscriber always arrives, but there seems to be a significant delay between the point at which a publisher sends a message and when a subscriber receives it. For example, the message “hello world” can be sent to all clients. …


Seth Maxwell

Google Software Engineering Intern 2020

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