Simple Queue Service (SQS) Cheat Sheet

  • Serverless message queue
  • 2 Types
    • Standard
    • FIFO

Visibility Timeout

  • When a message is received, it is made invisible to subsequent ReceiveMessage calls for a duration called “visibility timeout”
  • Consumer should delete processed messages, or the message will reappear after the timeout
  • Can be set to 0 seconds to 12 hours, default 30 seconds
  • Messages will be discarded after a retention period (can be set to 60 seconds to 14 days, default 4 days)

	            Visibility Timeout


  • Short polling
    • SQS samples queue nodes and returns messages immediately
    • May not return all messages as this is sample-based
    • Cloud return empty results

                    Message Sampling using Short (Standard) Polling
Short polling sampling behavior
  • Long polling
    • SQS waits up to 20 seconds to in attempt to get at least 1 message (less empty responses)
    • SQS query all queue nodes so no message in queue is missed
    • Note: long polling API is still synchronous so make sure your application can keep connection open during timeout
  • Short vs. long 🎓
    • Return immediately vs. return after a given timeout or a message is received
    • Sample some nodes vs. query all nodes
    • More likely to return empty results vs. only return empty result after timeout and no messages received
    • Technically they both use ReceiveMessage API, only the WaitTimeSeconds parameter in long polling is set to value larger than 1
    • Because of long polling reduces number of requests, the cost of using long polling is lower than short polling
      • SQS is billed by number of requests so it does not matter a request is short or long polling
  • Use cases
    • Use short polling when immediate return of result is needed
    • Otherwise, use long polling

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