» Serf Event

Command: serf event

The serf event command dispatches a custom user event into a Serf cluster, leveraging Serf's gossip layer for scalable broadcasting of the event to clusters of any size.

Nodes in the cluster can listen for these custom events and react to them. Example use cases of custom events are to trigger deploys across web nodes by sending a "deploy" event, possibly with a commit payload. Another use case might be to send a "restart" event, asking the cluster members to restart.

Ultimately, serf event is used to send custom events of your choosing that you can respond to in any way you want. The power in Serf's custom events is the scalability over other systems.

The main distinction between a Serf query and an event is that events are fire-and-forget. The Serf client will send the event immediately and will broadcast to the entire cluster. Events have no filtering mechanism and cannot reply or acknowledge receipt. Serf also tries harder to deliver events, by performing anti-entropy over TCP as well as message replay.

Queries are intended to be a real-time request and response mechanism. Since they are intended to be time sensitive, Serf will not do message replay or anti-entropy, as a response to a very old query is not useful. Queries have more advanced filtering mechanisms and can be used to build more complex control flow. For example, a code deploy could check that at least 90% of nodes successfully deployed before continuing.

» Usage

Usage: serf event [options] name [payload]

The following command-line options are available for this command. Every option is optional:

  • -coalesce=true/false - Sets whether or not this event can be coalesced by Serf. By default this is set to true. Read the section on event coalescing for more information on what this means.

  • -rpc-addr - Address to the RPC server of the agent you want to contact to send this command. If this isn't specified, the command will contact "" which is the default RPC address of a Serf agent. This option can also be controlled using the SERF_RPC_ADDR environment variable.

  • -rpc-auth - Optional RPC auth token. If the agent is configured to use an auth token, then this must be provided or the agent will refuse the command. This option can also be controlled using the SERF_RPC_AUTH environment variable.

» Sending an Event

To send an event, use serf event NAME where NAME is the name of the event to send. This call will return immediately, and Serf will use its gossip layer to broadcast the event.

An event may also contain a payload. You may specify the payload using the second parameter. For example: serf event deploy 1234567890 would send the "deploy" event with "1234567890" as the payload.

» Receiving an Event

The events can be handled by registering an event handler with the Serf agent. The documentation for how the user event is dispatched is all contained within that linked page.

» Event Coalescing

By default, Serf coalesces events of the same name within a short time period. This means that if many events of the same name are received within a short amount of time, the event handler is only invoked once, with the last event of that name received during that time period.

Event coalescence works great for idempotent events such as "restart" or events where only the last value in the payload really matters, like the commit in a "deploy" event. In these cases, things just work.

Some events, however, shouldn't be coalesced. For example, if you had an event "queue" that queues some item, then you want to make sure all of those events are seen, even if many are sent in a short period of time. In this case, the -coalesce=false flag should be passed to the serf event command.

If you send some events of the same name with coalescence enabled and some without, then only the events that have coalescing enabled will actually coalesce. The others will always be delivered.