ZeroMQ’s got some interesting ideas, but unfortunately hasn’t quite gotten the press it deserves. I’m just starting to toy around with it, mostly due to Zed Shaw’s use of it in Mongrel2. Regardless of Mongrel 2, ZeroMQ IS fascinating. Why? A few reasons. I’ll get to some of them in a bit, but first I’ll let this short block of text from the ZMQ::Socket class’s Ruby docs explain why:

Generally speaking, conventional sockets present a synchronous interface to either connection-oriented reliable byte streams (SOCK_STREAM), or connection-less unreliable datagrams (SOCK_DGRAM). In comparison, 0MQ sockets present an abstraction of an asynchronous message queue, with the exact queueing semantics depending on the socket type in use. Where conventional sockets transfer streams of bytes or discrete datagrams, 0MQ sockets transfer discrete messages.

0MQ sockets being asynchronous means that the timings of the physical connection setup and teardown, reconnect and effective delivery are transparent to the user and organized by 0MQ itself. Further, messages may be queued in the event that a peer is unavailable to receive them.

Conventional sockets allow only strict one-to-one (two peers), many-to-one (many clients, one server), or in some cases one-to-many (multicast) relationships. With the exception of ZMQ::PAIR, 0MQ sockets may be connected to multiple endpoints using connect(), while simultaneously accepting incoming connections from multiple endpoints bound to the socket using bind(), thus allowing many-to-many relationships.

The full ZeroMQ Ruby docs are a good read, as are the papers on

So, why else go ZMQ? Well, it’s got interchangeable transports. ZeroMQ supports ultra-fast inter-thread messaging, inter-process  communication, TCP, and multicast, as supported transports.

These messages can be exchanged between any language that support ZMQ, at the moment, that’s all your faves, from C/C++ to Java, to Ruby, to Python, and more.

Another good source for ZMQ info is this excellent post on Nicholas Piel’s blog. Resplendent with diagrams and wonderful explanations.

At any rate, I’m just getting started with ZMQ, as my ZMQ exploration continues I’ll update this blog.