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Stream Processing with Python, Kafka & Faust | by Ali Osia | Feb, 2024

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A lot of the stream processing libraries usually are not python pleasant whereas the vast majority of machine studying and information mining libraries are python based mostly. Though the Faust library goals to deliver Kafka Streaming concepts into the Python ecosystem, it could pose challenges when it comes to ease of use. This doc serves as a tutorial and presents greatest practices for successfully using Faust.

Within the first part, I current an introductory overview of stream processing ideas, drawing extensively from the e book Designing Knowledge-Intensive Functions [1]. Following that, I discover the important thing functionalities of the Faust library, putting emphasis on Faust home windows, which are sometimes tough to understand from the obtainable documentation and make the most of effectively. Consequently, I suggest another method to using Faust home windows by leveraging the library’s personal features. Lastly, I share my expertise implementing the same pipeline on the Google Cloud Platform.

A stream refers to unbounded information that’s incrementally made obtainable over time. An occasion is a small, self-contained object that incorporates the main points of one thing occurred sooner or later in time e.g. person interplay. An occasion is generated by a producer (e.g. temperature sensor) and could also be consumed by some customers (e.g. on-line dashboard). Conventional databases are ill-suited for storing occasions in excessive throughput occasion streams. That is because of the want for customers to periodically ballot the database to establish new occasions, leading to vital overhead. As a substitute, it’s higher for customers to be notified when new occasions seem and messaging techniques are designed for doing this.

A message dealer is a extensively adopted system for messaging, wherein producers write messages to the dealer, and customers are notified by the dealer and obtain these messages. AMQP-based message brokers, like RabbitMQ, are generally employed for asynchronous message passing between companies and job queues. Not like databases, they undertake a transient messaging mindset and delete a message solely after it has been acknowledged by its customers. When processing messages turns into resource-intensive, parallelization could be achieved by using a number of customers that learn from the identical subject in a load-balanced method. On this method, messages are randomly assigned to customers for processing, probably leading to a special order of processing in comparison with the order of receiving.

Then again, log-based message brokers reminiscent of Apache Kafka mix the sturdiness of database storage with the low-latency notification capabilities of messaging techniques. They make the most of a partitioned-log construction, the place every partition represents an append-only sequence of data saved on disk. This design allows the re-reading of previous messages. Load balancing in Kafka is achieved by assigning a client to every partition and on this method, the order of message processing aligns with the order of receiving, however the variety of customers is proscribed to the variety of partitions obtainable.

Stream processing includes performing actions on a stream, reminiscent of processing a stream and generate a brand new one, storing occasion information in a database, or visualizing information on a dashboard. Stream analytics is a standard use case the place we mixture data from a sequence of occasions inside an outlined time window. Tumbling home windows (non-overlapping) and hopping home windows (overlapping) are in style window sorts utilized in stream analytics. Examples of stream analytics use circumstances could be merely counting the variety of occasions within the earlier hour, or making use of a posh time-series prediction mannequin on occasions.

Stream analytics faces the problem of distinguishing between occasion creation time (occasion time) and occasion processing time because the processing of occasions could introduce delays as a result of queuing or community points. Defining home windows based mostly on processing time is a less complicated method, particularly when the processing delay is minimal. Nevertheless, defining home windows based mostly on occasion time poses a better problem. It’s because it’s unsure whether or not all the information inside a window has been acquired or if there are nonetheless pending occasions. Therefore, it turns into essential to deal with straggler occasions that arrive after the window has been thought of full.

In functions involving complicated stream analytics, reminiscent of time-series prediction, it’s usually essential to course of a sequence of ordered messages inside a window as a cohesive unit. On this scenario, the messages exhibit sturdy inter-dependencies, making it tough to acknowledge and take away particular person messages from the dealer. Consequently, a log-based message dealer presents itself as a preferable choice for utilization. Moreover, parallel processing will not be possible or overly intricate to implement on this context, as all of the messages inside a window must be thought of collectively. Nevertheless, making use of a posh ML mannequin to the information could be computationally intensive, necessitating another method to parallel processing. This doc goals to suggest an answer for successfully using a resource-intensive machine studying mannequin in a high-throughput stream processing software.

There are a number of stream processing libraries obtainable, reminiscent of Apache Kafka Streams, Flink, Samza, Storm, and Spark Streaming. Every of those libraries has its personal strengths and weaknesses, however lots of them usually are not notably Python-friendly. Nevertheless, Faust is a Python-based stream processing library that use Kafka because the underlying messaging system and goals to deliver the concepts of Kafka Streams to the Python ecosystem. Sadly, Faust’s documentation could be complicated, and the supply code could be tough to understand. For example, understanding how home windows work in Faust is difficult with out referring to the complicated supply code. Moreover, there are quite a few open points within the Faust (v1) and the Faust-Streaming (v2) repositories, and resolving these points will not be a simple course of. Within the following, important information about Faust’s underlying construction will likely be supplied, together with code snippets to help in successfully using the Faust library.

To make the most of Faust, the preliminary step includes creating an App and configuring the undertaking by specifying the dealer and different mandatory parameters. One of many helpful parameters is the table_cleanup_interval that will likely be mentioned later.

app = faust.App(

Then you’ll be able to outline a stream processor utilizing the agent decorator to devour from a Kafka subject and do one thing for each occasion it receives.

schema = faust.Schema(value_serializer='json')
subject = app.subject(topic_name, schema=schema)

async def processor(stream):
async for occasion in stream:

For retaining state in a stream processor, we will use Faust Desk. A desk is a distributed in-memory dictionary, backed by a Kafka changelog subject. You may consider desk as a python dictionary that may be set inside a stream processor.

desk = app.Desk(table_name, default=int)

async def processor(stream):
async for occasion in stream:
desk[key] += occasion

Faust Home windows

Let’s contemplate a time-series downside the place each second, we require samples from the earlier 10 seconds to foretell one thing. So we want 10s overlapping home windows with 1s overlap. To attain this performance, we will make the most of Faust windowed tables that are inadequately defined within the Faust documentation and sometimes result in confusion.

Ideally, a stream processing library ought to robotically carry out the next duties:

  1. Keep a state for every window (record of occasions);
  2. Establish the related home windows for a brand new occasion (the final 10 home windows);
  3. Replace the state of those home windows (append the brand new occasion to the top of their respective lists);
  4. Apply a perform when a window is closed, utilizing the window’s state as enter.

Within the code snippet under, you’ll be able to observe the steered method within the Faust documentation for developing a window and using it in a streaming processor (check with this instance from the Faust library):

# Primarily based on Fuast instance
# Don't use this

window_wrapper = app.Desk(
table_name, default=record, on_window_close=window_close
10, 1, expires=expire_time

async def processor(stream):
async for occasion in stream:
window_set = window_wrapper[key]
prev = window_set.worth()
window_wrapper[key] = prev

Within the supplied code, the article window_wrapper is an occasion of the WindowWrapper class that gives a few of the required functionalities. The expires parameter determines the period of a window’s lifespan, ranging from its creation. As soon as this specified time has elapsed, the window is taken into account closed. Faust performs periodic checks on the table_cleanup_interval period to establish closed home windows. It then applies the window_close perform, utilizing the window state as its enter.

Once you name window_wrapper[key] it returns an object of sort WindowSet, which internally incorporates all of the related home windows. By calling window_set.worth(), you’ll be able to entry the state of the most recent window, and you can too entry earlier window states by calling which supplies the state at 30 seconds in the past. Moreover, you’ll be able to replace the state of the newest window by assigning a brand new worth to window_wrapper[key]. This method works wonderful for tumbling home windows. Nevertheless, it doesn’t work for hopping home windows the place we have to replace the state of a number of home windows.

[Faust Documentation:] At this level, when accessing information from a hopping desk, we all the time entry the most recent window for a given timestamp and we have now no method of modifying this habits.

Whereas Faust gives assist for sustaining the state of home windows, figuring out related home windows, and making use of a perform on closed home windows, it doesn’t totally deal with the third performance which includes updating the state of all related home windows. Within the following, I suggest a brand new method for using Faust home windows that encompasses this performance as properly.

Home windows Reinvented

Comprehending the performance and operation of Faust home windows proved difficult for me till I delved into the supply code. Faust home windows are constructed upon an underlying Faust desk, which I’ll check with because the inside desk shifting ahead. Surprisingly, the Faust documentation doesn’t emphasize the inside desk or present a transparent clarification of its position in implementing home windows. Nevertheless, it’s the most vital part within the window implementation. Subsequently, within the following part, I’ll start by defining the inside desk after which proceed to debate the window wrappers.

inner_table = app.Desk(
table_name, default=record, partitions=1, on_window_close=window_close

# for tumbling window:
window_wrapper = inner_table.tumbling(
window_size, key_index=True, expires=timedelta(seconds=window_size)

# for hopping window:
window_wrapper = inner_table.hopping(
window_size, slide, key_index=True, expires=timedelta(seconds=window_size)

Let’s now study how Faust handles the primary and second functionalities (retaining state and figuring out related home windows). Faust makes use of the idea of a window vary, represented by a easy (begin, finish) tuple, to find out which home windows are related to a given timestamp. If the timestamp falls throughout the begin and finish occasions of a window, that window is taken into account related. Faust creates a file throughout the inside desk utilizing a key composed of the pair (key, window vary) and updates it accordingly.

Nevertheless, when invoking window_wrapper[key], it merely retrieves the current window vary by counting on the present timestamp, and subsequently returns inner_table[(key, current_window_range)]. This poses a difficulty since using the window wrapper solely impacts the latest window, even when the occasion pertains to a number of home windows. Subsequently, within the subsequent perform, I opted to make use of the inner_table as an alternative. This permits me to acquire all of the related window ranges and immediately replace every related window utilizing the inside desk:

async def update_table(occasions, key, window_wrapper, inner_table):
t = window_wrapper.get_timestamp()
for window_range in inner_table._window_ranges(t):
prev = inner_table[(key, window_range)]
inner_table[(key, window_range)] = prev

Inside this perform, the preliminary line is liable for finding the present timestamp, whereas inner_table._window_ranges(t) retrieves all pertinent window ranges for that timestamp. We subsequently proceed to replace every related window inside a for loop. This method permits us to make the most of the update_table perform for each tumbling and hopping home windows successfully.

It is price noting that update_table accepts a listing of occasions as an alternative of only one, and employs the extends methodology as an alternative of append. This alternative is motivated by the truth that when trying to replace a desk incrementally inside a high-throughput pipeline, you usually encounter the warning “producer buffer full dimension” which considerably hampers effectivity. Consequently, it’s advisable to replace tables in mini-batches, as demonstrated within the following:

async def processor(stream):
batch = []
async for occasion in stream:
if len(batch) >= 200:
await update_table(batch, key, window_wrapper, inner_table)
batch = []


In Faust, every employee operates with a single course of. Consequently, if the processing of a window is computationally intensive, it may end up in a delay which is unacceptable for real-time functions. To deal with this problem, I suggest leveraging the Python multiprocessing library throughout the window_close perform. By doing so, we will distribute the processing load throughout a number of processes and mitigate the delay attributable to heavy window processing, making certain higher real-time efficiency.

from multiprocessing import Pool

async def window_close(key, occasions):
pool.apply_async(compute, (occasions,), callback=produce)

def compute(occasions):
# implement the logic right here
return end result

def produce(end result):
if isinstance(end result, Exception):
print(f'EXCEPTION {end result}')
# producer is a KafkaProducer
producer.ship(topic_name, worth=end result, key='end result'.encode())

pool = Pool(processes=num_process)

Within the supplied code, a pool of processes is created. Throughout the window_close perform, pool.apply_async is utilized to delegate the job to a brand new employee and retrieve the end result. A callback perform is invoked when the result’s prepared.

On this particular code, the result’s despatched to a brand new Kafka subject utilizing a Kafka producer. This setup allows the creation of a series of Kafka matters, the place every subject serves because the enter for an additional stream processor. This enables for a sequential move of information between the Kafka matters, facilitating environment friendly information processing and enabling the chaining of a number of stream processors.

I want to briefly talk about my destructive expertise with the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). GCP recommends utilizing Google Pub/Sub because the message dealer, Apache Beam because the stream processing library, Google Dataflow for execution, and Google BigQuery because the database. Nevertheless, after I tried to make use of this stack, I encountered quite a few points that made it fairly difficult.

Working with Google Pub/Sub in Python proved to be sluggish (examine this and this), main me to desert it in favor of Kafka. Apache Beam is a well-documented library, nonetheless, utilizing it with Kafka offered its personal set of issues. The direct runner was buggy, requiring using Dataflow and leading to vital time delays as I waited for machine provisioning. Moreover, I skilled points with delayed triggering of home windows, regardless of my unsuccessful makes an attempt to resolve the issue (examine this GitHub problem and this Stack Overflow submit). Additionally debugging the whole system was a significant problem because of the complicated integration of a number of parts, leaving me with restricted management over the logs and making it tough to pinpoint the basis reason for points inside Pub/Sub, Beam, Dataflow, or BigQuery. In abstract, my expertise with the Google Cloud Platform was marred by the sluggish efficiency of Google Pub/Sub in Python, the bugs encountered when utilizing Apache Beam with Kafka, and the general issue in debugging the interconnected techniques.

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