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High performance ActiveJob Queue Adapter for PostgreSQL that provides maximum reliability and ACID compliance


 Project Readme


Skiplock is a background job queuing system that improves the performance and reliability of the job executions while providing the same ACID guarantees as the rest of your data. It is designed for Active Jobs with Ruby on Rails using PostgreSQL database adapter, but it can be modified to work with other frameworks easily.

It only uses the LISTEN/NOTIFY/SKIP LOCKED features provided natively on PostgreSQL 9.5+ to efficiently and reliably dispatch jobs to worker processes and threads ensuring that each job can be completed successfully only once. No other polling or timer is needed.

The library is quite small compared to other PostgreSQL job queues (eg. delay_job, queue_classic, que, good_job) with less than 500 lines of codes; and it still provides similar set of features and more...


  • MRI Ruby 2.5+
  • PostgreSQL 9.5+
  • Rails 5.2+


  1. Add Skiplock to your application's Gemfile:

    gem 'skiplock'
  2. Install the gem:

    $ bundle install
  3. Run the Skiplock install generator. This will generate a configuration file and database migration to store the job records:

    $ rails g skiplock:install
  4. Run the migration:

    $ rails db:migrate


  1. Configure the ActiveJob adapter:

    # config/application.rb
    config.active_job.queue_adapter = :skiplock
  2. Skiplock configuration

    # config/skiplock.yml (default settings)
    min_threads: 1
    max_threads: 10
    max_retries: 20
    logfile: skiplock.log
    loglevel: info
    notification: custom
    extensions: false
    purge_completion: true
      default: 200
      mailers: 999
    workers: 0

    Available configuration options are:

    • min_threads (integer): sets minimum number of threads staying idle
    • max_threads (integer): sets the maximum number of threads allowed to run jobs
    • max_retries (integer): sets the maximum attempt a job will be retrying before it is marked expired. See Retry system for more details
    • logfile (string): filename for skiplock logs; empty logfile will disable logging
    • loglevel (string): sets logging level (debug, info, warn, error, fatal, unknown)
    • notification (string): sets the library to be used for notifying errors and exceptions (auto, airbrake, bugsnag, exception_notification, custom); using auto will detect library if available. See Notification system for more details
    • extensions (multi): enable or disable the class method extension. See ClassMethod extension for more details
    • purge_completion (boolean): when set to true will delete jobs after they were completed successfully; if set to false then the completed jobs should be purged periodically to maximize performance (eg. clean up old jobs after 3 months); queued jobs can manually override using purge option
    • queues (hash): defines the set of queues with priorities; lower priority takes precedence
    • workers (integer) sets the maximum number of processes when running in standalone mode using the skiplock executable; setting this to 0 will enable async mode

    Async mode

    When workers is set to 0 then the jobs will be performed in the web server process using separate threads. If using multi-worker cluster mode web server like Puma, then all the Puma workers will also be able to perform Skiplock jobs.

    Standalone mode

    Skiplock standalone mode can be launched by using the skiplock executable; command line options can be provided to override the Skiplock configuration file.

    $ bundle exec skiplock -h
    Usage: skiplock [options]
      -e, --environment STRING         Rails environment
      -l, --logfile STRING             Log filename
      -L, --loglevel STRING            Log level (debug, info, warn, error, fatal, unknown)
      -s, --graceful-shutdown NUM      Number of seconds to wait for graceful shutdown
      -r, --max-retries NUM            Number of maxixum retries
      -t, --max-threads NUM            Number of maximum threads
      -T, --min-threads NUM            Number of minimum threads
      -v, --version                    Show version information
      -w, --workers NUM                Number of workers
      -h, --help                       Show this message


Inside the Rails application:

  • queue your job
  • Skiplock supports all ActiveJob features and options
    MyJob.set(queue: 'my_queue', wait: 5.minutes, priority: 10).perform_later(1,2,3)
    MyJob.set(wait_until: Day.tomorrow.noon).perform_later(1,2,3)
  • Skiplock supports custom options which override the global Skiplock configuration options for specified jobs
    • purge (boolean): whether to remove this job after it has completed successfully
    • max_retries (integer): set maximum retry attempt for this job
    MyJob.set(purge: false, max_retries: 5).perform_later(1,2,3)

Outside the Rails application:

  • queue the jobs by inserting the job records directly to the database table
  • with scheduling, priority, queue, arguments and custom options
    INSERT INTO, queue_name, priority, scheduled_at, data)
      VALUES ('MyJob', 'my_queue', 10, NOW() + INTERVAL '5 min',

Queue priority vs Job priority

Why do queues use priorities when jobs already have priorities?

  • Jobs are only prioritized with other jobs from the same queue
  • Queues, on the other hand, are prioritized with other queues
  • Rails has built-in queues that dispatch jobs without priorities (eg. Mail Delivery will queue as mailers with no priority)

Cron system

Skiplock provides the capability to setup cron jobs for running tasks periodically. It fully supports the cron syntax to specify the frequency of the jobs. To setup a cron job, simply assign a valid cron schedule to the constant CRON for the Job Class.

  • setup MyJob to run as cron job every hour at 30 minutes past

    class MyJob < ActiveJob::Base
      CRON = "30 * * * *"
      # ...
  • setup CleanupJob to run at midnight every Wednesdays

    class CleanupJob < ApplicationJob
      CRON = "0 0 * * 3"
      # ...
  • to remove the cron schedule from the job, simply comment out the constant definition or delete the line then re-deploy the application. At startup, the cron jobs that were undefined will be removed automatically

Retry system

Skiplock fully supports ActiveJob built-in retry system. It also has its own retry system for fallback. To use ActiveJob retry system, define the retry_on block per ActiveJob's documentation.

  • configures MyJob to retry at maximum 20 attempts on StandardError with fixed delay of 5 seconds

    class MyJob < ActiveJob::Base
      retry_on StandardError, wait: 5, attempts: 20
    # ...
  • configures MyJob to retry at maximum 10 attempts on StandardError with exponential delay

    class MyJob < ActiveJob::Base
      retry_on StandardError, wait: :exponentially_longer, attempts: 10
    # ...

If the retry attempt limit configured in ActiveJob has been reached, then the control will be passed back to Skiplock to be marked as an expired job.

If the retry_on block is not defined, then the built-in retry system of Skiplock will kick in automatically. The retrying schedule is using an exponential formula (5 + 2**attempt). The Skiplock configuration max_retries determines the the limit of attempts before the failing job is marked as expired. The maximum retry limit can be set as high as 20; this allows up to 12 days of retrying before the job is marked as expired.

Notification system

Skiplock can use existing exception notification library to notify errors and exceptions. It supports airbrake, bugsnag, and exception_notification. Custom notification can also be called whenever an exception occurs; it can be configured in an initializer like below:

  # config/initializers/skiplock.rb
  Skiplock.on_error do |ex|
    # sends text message using Amazon SNS
    sms = 'us-west-2', access_key_id: Rails.application.credentials[:aws][:access_key_id], secret_access_key: Rails.application.credentials[:aws][:secret_access_key])
    sms.publish(phone_number: '+12223334444', message: "Exception: #{ex.message}"[0..130])
  # supports multiple 'on_error' event callbacks

ClassMethod extension

Skiplock can add extension to allow class methods to be performed as a background job; it is disabled in the default configuration. To enable globally for all classes and modules, edit the config/skiplock.yml configuration file and change extensions to true; this can expose remote code execution if the database table is not secured properly.

To enable extension for specific classes and modules only then set the configuration to an array of names of the classes and modules eg. ['MyClass', 'MyModule']

  • An example of remote code execution if the extension is enabled globally (ie: configuration is set to true) and attacker can insert
    INSERT INTO, data)
      VALUES ('Skiplock::Extension::ProxyJob',
      '{"arguments":["---\n- !ruby/module ''Kernel''\n- :system\n- - rm -rf /tmp/*\n"]}');
  • Queue class method generate_thumbnails of class Image as background job to run as soon as possible
    Image.skiplock.generate_thumbnails(height: 100, ratio: true)
  • Queue class method cleanup of class Session as background job on queue maintenance to run after 5 minutes
    Session.skiplock(wait: 5.minutes, queue: 'maintenance').cleanup
  • Queue class method charge of class Subscription as background job to run tomorrow at noon without purging
    Subscription.skiplock(purge: false, wait_until: Date.tomorrow.noon).charge(amount: 100)

Fault tolerant

Skiplock ensures that jobs will be executed sucessfully only once even if database connection is lost during or after the job was dispatched. Successful jobs are marked as completed or removed (with purge_completion global configuration or purge job option); failed or interrupted jobs are marked for retry.

However, when the database connection is dropped for any reasons and the commit is lost, Skiplock will then save the commit data to local disk (as tmp/skiplock/<job_id>) and synchronize with the database when the connection resumes.

This also protects long running in-progress jobs that are terminated abruptly during a graceful shutdown with timeout; these will be queued for retry.


Skiplock can scale both vertically and horizontally. To scale vertically, simply increase the number of Skiplock workers per host. To scale horizontally, simply deploy Skiplock to multiple hosts sharing the same PostgreSQL database.

Statistics, analytics and counters

The skiplock.workers database table contains all the Skiplock workers running on all the hosts. Active worker will update its timestamp column (updated_at) every minute; and dispatched jobs would be associated with the running workers. At any given time, a list of active workers running a list of jobs can be determined using the database table.

The database table contains all the Skiplob jobs. Each job's successful execution stores the result to its data['result'] field column. If job completions are not purged then their execution results can be used for analytic purposes.

The skiplock.counters database table contains all the counters for job dispatches, completions, expiries, failures and retries. The counters are recorded by dates; so it's possible to get statistical data for any given day or range of dates.

  • completions: numbers of jobs completed successfully
  • dispatches: number of jobs dispatched for the first time (retries are not counted here)
  • expiries: number of jobs exceeded max_retries and still failed to complete
  • failures: number of jobs interrupted by graceful shutdown or unable to complete due to errors (exceptions)
  • retries: number of jobs dispatched for retrying

Code examples of gathering counters information:

  • get counter information for today
  • get total number of successfully completed jobs within the past 30 days
    Skiplock::Counter.where("day >= ?", 30.days.ago).sum(:completions)
  • get total number of expired jobs


Bug reports and pull requests are welcome on GitHub at


The gem is available as open source under the terms of the MIT License.