How to schedule or delay messages with RabbitMQ using a Dead Letter Exchange

08 January 2013 |

Sometimes you don’t want messages in the queue to be read immediately. For example, you have a message that can’t be procesed right now but you want to requeue it and try again in 5 minutes. Unfortunately, RabbitMQ doesn’t come with native support for delayed or scheduled messages. Fortunately, RabbitMQ 2.8.0 introduced Dead Letter Exchanges (DLX), which allows us to simulate message scheduling.

Dead what?

When you create a queue (A) bound to an exchange (X), you can also specify an exchange (DLX) to redirect expired and rejected messages to. This is the dead letter exchange. Then you have another queue (B) bound to this dead letter exchange (DLX) to consume messages as they drop off the original queue (A).

In practice, if we wanted to enable retry on failure every 5 minutes, the flow would look like this:

  1. Create WorkQueue bound to WorkExchange

  2. Create RetryQueue bound to RetryExchange

    • Set x-dead-letter-exchange to WorkExchange
    • Set x-message-ttl to 300000 ms (5 minutes)
  3. Publish message to WorkQueue

  4. Client reads message from WorkQueue and attempts to process it

  5. Process fails and client publishes to RetryQueue

  6. Messages sits in RetryQueue for 5 minutes

  7. When message expires, it is requeued to WorkQueue for another attempt at processing

  8. Repeat steps 4-7

Here’s how you do it in C#:

Create the WorkQueue

// using RabbitMQ.Client;

private const string WORK_QUEUE = "WorkQueue";
private const string WORK_EXCHANGE = "WorkExchange"; // dead letter exchange

ConnectionFactory factory = new ConnectionFactory();
factory.HostName = "localhost";
IConnection connection = factory.CreateConnection();
IModel channel = connection.CreateModel();
channel.ExchangeDeclare(WORK_EXCHANGE, "direct");
channel.QueueDeclare(WORK_QUEUE, true, false, false, null);
channel.QueueBind(WORK_QUEUE, WORK_EXCHANGE, string.empty, null);

Create the RetryQueue

private const string RETRY_EXCHANGE = "RetryExchange";
private const string RETRY_QUEUE = "RetryQueue";
private const int RETRY_DELAY = 300000; // in ms

// Messages will drop off RetryQueue into WorkExchange for reprocessing
// All messages in queue will expire at same rate
var queueArgs = new Dictionary<string, object> {
    { "x-dead-letter-exchange", WORK_EXCHANGE },
    { "x-message-ttl", RETRY_DELAY }

channel.ExchangeDeclare(RETRY_EXCHANGE, "direct");
channel.QueueDeclare(RETRY_QUEUE, true, false, false, queueArgs);
channel.QueueBind(RETRY_QUEUE, RETRY_EXCHANGE, string.empty, null);

Read from WorkQueue

QueueingBasicConsumer consumer = new QueueingBasicConsumer(channel);
channel.BasicConsume(WORK_QUEUE, true, consumer);

while (true) {
    BasicDeliverEventArgs e = (BasicDeliverEventArgs) consumer.Queue.Dequeue();

    var message = Encoding.UTF8.GetString(e.Body);
    if (!DoSomething(message)) {

Publish to RetryQueue on failure

var data = Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes(message)
channel.BasicPublish(RETRY_EXCHANGE, string.empty, null, data);

The code above will keep retrying indefinitely. It’s a good idea to check against some sort of MAX_RETRY constant. If your messages are JSON strings, it’s easy to encode the retry count in the message itself.


There are some things worth mentioning:

Several different ways to make the message drop into the DLX

  • In a RetryQueue consumer, reject the message and set requeue = false
  • Set per-queue message TTL when declaring a queue
  • Set per-message TTL when publishing a message

If using per-message TTL, the expired message won’t be sent to the DLX until it reaches the front of the queue. See for more information


Remote access to a self hosted Nancy web service

07 January 2013 |

If you’ve only ever run Nancy through Visual Studio or IIS, you will likely have never run into this problem. But if you try to run Nancy under a non-Administrator account–for example, self hosting Nancy in a Windows service running under Network Service–you’ll get a nasty little surprise:

System.Net.HttpListenerException (0x80004005): Access is denied
   at System.Net.HttpListener.AddAllPrefixes()
   at System.Net.HttpListener.Start()


Windows does not allow non-Administrator accounts to run HTTP listeners on arbitrary ports. In this case, port 4567.

nancyHost = new Nancy.Hosting.Self.NancyHost(new Uri("http://localhost:4567"));


You will need to open up the port used by Nancy.

netsh http add urlacl url=http://+:4567/ user="NT AUTHORITY\Network Service"

Try your program again and it should now work.

Reference: Stack Overflow

Yoeun Pen

Developer / Designer / Technologist

Washington, DC

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