I was writing a utility in Python (using boto) to test/play with Amazon’s SQS service. As boto isn’t particularly well documented where SQS specifically is concerned, I also plan to post some examples (either here or on Linuxlaboratory.org, or both). When I had some trouble getting a message that was sent to a queue, I went to the Amazon documentation, and found this little gem in the Amazon Web Services FAQ
I am sure that my queue has messages, but a call to ReceiveMessage returned none. What could be the problem?
Due to the distributed nature of the queue, a weighted random set of machines is sampled on a ReceiveMessage call. That means only the messages on the sampled machines are returned. If the number of messages in the queue is small (less than 1000), it is likely you will get fewer messages than you requested. If the number of messages in the queue is extremely small, you might not receive any messages in a particular ReceiveMessage response. Your application should be prepared to poll the queue until a message is received. Note that with the 2008-01-01 version of Amazon SQS, youâ€™re charged for each request you make, so set your polling frequency with that in mind.
So… if you were planning to decouple application components using SQS using an ‘eventual consistency’ model, keep in mind that they’re using the same model, and that they’re charging you for the privilege of eventually getting the messages you’ve already paid to put there, but aren’t necessarily available at any given point in time. I personally think this is a little goofy, and wrong.
If I put a message in a queue, I should be charged for actually getting the message. I should *not* be charged for checking to see if Amazon’s internal workings have made my messages available to me yet.