Introduction to Event Streaming with Kafka and Kafdrop
Event sourcing, eventual consistency, microservices, CQRS. These are quickly becoming household names in mainstream application development. But do you know what makes them tick? What are the basic building blocks required to assemble complex, business-centric applications from fine-grained services without turning the lot into a big ball of mud?
This article examines a fundamental building block — event streaming. Leading the charge will be Apache Kafka — the de facto standard in event streaming platforms, which we’ll observe through Kafdrop — a feature-packed web UI.
A Brief Intro
Event streaming platforms reside in the broader class of Message-oriented Middleware (MoM) and are similar to traditional message queues and topics, but offer stronger temporal guarantees and typically order-of-magnitude performance gains due to log-structured immutability. In simple terms, write operations are mostly limited to sequential appends, which make them fast.
Whereas messages in a traditional Message Queue (MQ) tend to be arbitrarily ordered and generally independent of one another, events (or records) in a stream tend to be strongly ordered, often chronologically or causally. Also, a stream persists its records, whereas an MQ will discard a message as soon as it has been read. For this reason, event streaming tends to be a better fit for Event-Driven Architectures, encompassing event sourcing, eventual consistency, and CQRS concepts. (Of course, there are FIFO message queues too, but the differences between FIFO queues and fully-fledged event streaming platforms are quite substantial, not limited to ordering alone.)
Event streaming platforms are a comparatively recent paradigm within the broader MoM domain. There are only a handful of mainstream implementations available, compared to hundreds of MQ-style brokers, some going back to the 1980s (e.g. Tuxedo). Compared to established standards such as AMQP, MQTT, XMPP, and JMS, there are no equivalent standards in the streaming space. Event streaming platforms are an active area of continuous research and experimentation. In spite of this, streaming platforms aren’t just a niche concept or an academic idea with a few esoteric use cases; they can be applied effectively to a broad range…