firestream: kafkaesque streams built on firebase

clojure, firebase, kafkaesque-streams, stream



Kafkaesque streams built on firebase

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Clojars Project


Design and prototyping. Not suitable for any kind of usuage.


firestream is designed to provide kafakaesque streams with minimal hassle for pico-scale applications or MVPs. Once your application is no longer pico-scale using firestream is a great way to ensure bad things happen. firestream is aimed to give your application (or business) the runway grow enough to be able to absorb the operational cost of kafka.


At both rest and in transit all messages are stored as stringified json objects. firestream itself works in clojure maps.

Topics and partitions

Partitions are not provided for in firestream. If you really really really need partitions, it's probably time to switch to kafka.

Producers and consumers

Like kafka, firestream allows for multiple consumer and producers. It however only allows for consumer groups with one consumer. If you really really really need more than one consume in a consumer group, it's probably time to switch to kafka.

Brokers and clusters

There is only one broker, that broker is your firebase instance. There is only cluster


The design of firestream's interface is inspired by pyr's somewhat opinionated client library for kafka kinsky.

Why firebase

"Once connectivity is reestablished, we'll receive the appropriate set of events so that the client "catches up" with the current server state, without having to write any custom code." - Peeps from Firebase

Offline writes


The theoretical limits* of firestream (i.e. running it on the biggest machine you can find) are derived by using an 8th of the limits of firebase. For pico-scale applications or MVPs it's unlikely you'll hit the limits of firebase or firestream. Here they are anyway:

  • Combined maximum number of consumers and producers: 24k
  • Maximum system throughput (reads and writes): ~12k per second
  • Maximum payload during write: 2MB
  • Maximum write speed: 8MB per second
  • Maximum payload size at rest: 1.25MB
  • Maximmum payload during read: 32MB
  • Maximum number of messages per topic: 9 million
  • Broker timeout: 60 minutes

*It's quite likely that you can get more perf than the above, but better safe than sorry.

Firebase usuage limits in case they change


You can grab firestream from clojars: [alekcz/firestream "0.1.0-SNAPSHOT"].

Setting up firebase

  1. You need to create a project on firebase to get started. So do that first.
  2. Once you've created your project setup a Realtime Database.
  3. We don't want any frontends or non-admin apps to access our database, as this database will be at the core of our stream. So we need to deny all non-admin access using the firebase securtiy rules. You can use the rules below.
  "rules": {
    ".read": false, //block all non-admin reads
    ".write": false //block all non-admin writes

Connecting your app to firebase

  1. Get the json file containing your creditials by following the instruction here

  2. Set the GOOGLE_CLOUD_PROJECT environment to the firebase id of your project e.g. "alekcz-test"

  3. Set the FIREBASE_CONFIG environment variable to the contents of your json key file. (Sometimes it may be necessary to remove all the line breaks and wrap the key contents in single quotes to escape all the special characters within it. e.g. FIREBASE_CONFIG='contents-of-json')

  4. You're now good to go.


The firestream API has 5 functions.

  • producer: Create a producer
  • send!: Send new message to topic
  • consumer: Create a consumer
  • subscribe!: Subscribe to a topic
  • poll!: Read messages ready for consumption


There are no metrics for the moment, but hopefully someday we'll get to the same level as

What next

When you outgrow firestream and are ready for kafka, hit up the awesome folks at to get you started.


Copyright © 2019 Alexander Oloo

This program and the accompanying materials are made available under the terms of the Eclipse Public License 2.0 which is available at

This Source Code may also be made available under the following Secondary Licenses when the conditions for such availability set forth in the Eclipse Public License, v. 2.0 are satisfied: GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version, with the GNU Classpath Exception which is available at