Console Producer and Consumer Basics, no (de)serializers


What is the simplest way to write messages to and read messages from Kafka?

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Example use case:

So you are excited to get started with Kafka and youd like to produce and consume some basic messages and you want to do so quickly. In this tutorial we'll show you how to produce and consume messages from the command line with no code! Note this tutorial doesn't cover using (de)serializers. Using (de)serializers with the console consumer and producer are covered in separate tutorials

Code example:

Try it

Initialize the project

To get started, make a new directory anywhere you’d like for this project:

mkdir console-consumer-produer-basic && cd console-consumer-produer-basic

Get Confluent Platform

Next, create the following docker-compose.yml file to obtain Confluent Platform.

version: '2'

    image: confluentinc/cp-zookeeper:5.5.0
    hostname: zookeeper
    container_name: zookeeper
      - "2181:2181"

    image: confluentinc/cp-kafka:5.5.0
    hostname: broker
    container_name: broker
      - zookeeper
      - "29092:29092"
      KAFKA_ZOOKEEPER_CONNECT: 'zookeeper:2181'

Now launch Confluent Platform by running:

docker-compose up -d

Create a topic

Your first step is to create a topic to produce to and consume from. Use the following command to create the topic:

docker-compose exec broker kafka-topics --create --topic example-topic --bootstrap-server broker:9092 --replication-factor 1 --partitions 1

Start a console consumer

Next let’s open up a console consumer to read records sent to the topic you created in the previous step.

From the same terminal you used to create the topic above, run the following command to open a terminal on the broker container:

docker-compose exec broker bash

From within the terminal on the broker container, run this command to start a console consumer:

kafka-console-consumer --topic example-topic --bootstrap-server broker:9092 

The consumer will start up and block waiting for records, you won’t see any output until after the next step.

Produce your first records

To produce your first record into Kafka, open another terminal window and run the following command to open a second shell on the broker container:

docker-compose exec broker bash

From inside the second terminal on the broker container, run the following command to start a console producer:

kafka-console-producer --topic example-topic --broker-list broker:9092

The producer will start and wait for you to enter input. Each line represents one record and to send it you’ll hit the enter key. If you type multiple words then hit enter, the entire line is considered one record.

Try typing one line at a time, hit enter and go back to the console consumer window and look for the output. Or you can select all the records and send at one time.

jumped over the brown cow

Once you’ve sent all the records you should see the same output in your console consumer window. After you’ve confirmed recieving all records go ahead and close the consumer by entering CTRL+C.

Read all records

In the first consumer example, you observed all incoming records becuase the consumer was already running, waiting for incoming records.

But what if the records were produced before you started your consumer? In that case you wouldn’t see the records as the console consumer by default only reads incoming records arriving after it has started up.

But what about reading previously sent records? In that case, you’ll add one property --from-beginning to the start command for the console consumer.

To demonstrate reading from the beginning, close the current console consumer.

Now go back to your producer console and send the following records:

how now
brown cow
all streams lead
to Kafka!

Start a new consumer to read all records

Next let’s open up a console consumer again, but this time you’ll ready everthing that your producer has sent to the topic. you created in the previous step.

Run this command in the container shell you created for your first consumer and note the additional property --from-beginning:

kafka-console-consumer --topic example-topic --bootstrap-server broker:9092  --from-beginning

After the consumer starts you should see the following output in a few seconds:

jumped over the brown cow
how now
brown cow
all streams lead
to Kafka!

One word of caution with using the --from-beginning flag. As the name implies this setting forces the consumer retrieve every record currently on the topic. So it’s best to use when testing and learning and not on a production topic.

Again, once you’ve recieved all records, close this console consumer by entering a CTRL+C.

Produce records with full key-value pairs

Kafka works with key-value pairs, but so far you’ve only sent records with values only. Well to be fair you’ve sent key-value pairs, but the keys are null. Sometimes you’ll need to send a valid key in addition to the value from the command line.

To enable sending full key-value pairs from the command line you add two properties to your console producer, parse.keys and key.separtor

Let’s try to send some full key-value records now. If your previous console producer is still running close it with a CTRL+C and run the following command to start a new console producer:

kafka-console-producer --topic example-topic --broker-list broker:9092\
  --property parse.key=true\
  --property key.separator=":"

Then enter these records either one at time or copy-paste all of them into the terminal and hit enter:

key1:what a lovely
key1:bunch of coconuts
fun:not quarantine

Start a consumer to show full key-value pairs

Now that we’ve produced full key-value pairs from the command line, you’ll want to consume full key-value pairs from the command line as well.

If your console consumer from the previous step is still open, shut it down with a CTRL+C. Then run the following command to re-open the console consumer but now it will print the full key-value pair. Note the added properties of print.key and key.separator. You should also take note that there’s a different key separator used here, you don’t have to use the same one between console producers and consumers.

kafka-console-consumer --topic example-topic --bootstrap-server broker:9092 \
 --from-beginning \
 --property print.key=true \
 --property key.separator="-"

After the consumer starts you should see the following output in a few seconds:

null-jumped over the brown cow
null-how now
null-brown cow
null-all streams lead
null-to Kafka!
key1-what a lovely
key1-bunch of coconuts
fun-not quarantine

Since we kept the --from-beginning property, you’ll see all the records sent to the topic. You’ll notice the results before you sent keys null-<value>.

Clean Up

You’re all down now!

Go back to your open windows and stop any console producers and consumers with a CTRL+C then close the containter shells with a CTRL+D command.

Then you can shut down the stack by running:

docker-compose down

Deploy on Confluent Cloud

Run your app to Confluent Cloud

Instead of running a local Kafka cluster, you may use Confluent Cloud, a fully-managed Apache Kafka service.

First, create your Kafka cluster in Confluent Cloud. Use the promo code CC100KTS to receive an additional $100 free usage (details).

Next, from the Confluent Cloud UI, click on Tools & client config to get the cluster-specific configurations, e.g. Kafka cluster bootstrap servers and credentials, Confluent Cloud Schema Registry and credentials, etc., and set the appropriate parameters in your client application.

Now you’re all set to your run application locally while your Kafka topics and stream processing is backed to your Confluent Cloud instance.