Programming language: Java
License: Apache License 2.0
Tags: Messaging     Projects    
Latest version: v2.8.0

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NATS - Java Client

A Java client for the NATS messaging system.

License Apache 2 Build Status Coverage Status Maven Central Javadoc

A Note on Versions

This is version 2.x of the java-nats library. This version is a ground up rewrite of the original library. Part of the goal of this re-write was to address the excessive use of threads, we created a Dispatcher construct to allow applications to control thread creation more intentionally. This version also removes all non-JDK runtime dependencies.

The API is simple to use and highly performant.

Version 2+ uses a simplified versioning scheme. Any issues will be fixed in the incremental version number. As a major release, the major version has been updated to 2 to allow clients to limit there use of this new API. With the addition of drain() we updated to 2.1, NKey support moved us to 2.2.

The NATS server renamed itself from gnatsd to nats-server around 2.4.4. This and other files try to use the new names, but some underlying code may change over several versions. If you are building yourself, please keep an eye out for issues and report them.

Version 2.5.0 adds some back pressure to publish calls to alleviate issues when there is a slow network. This may alter performance characteristics of publishing apps, although the total performance is equivalent.

Previous versions are still available in the repo.

SSL/TLS Performance

After recent tests we realized that TLS performance is lower than we would like. After researching the problem and possible solutions we came to a few conclusions:

  • TLS performance for the native JDK has not be historically great
  • TLS performance is better in JDK12 than JDK8
  • A small fix to the library in 2.5.1 allows the use of https://github.com/google/conscrypt and https://github.com/wildfly/wildfly-openssl, conscrypt provides the best performance in our tests
  • TLS still comes at a price (1gb/s vs 4gb/s in some tests), but using the JNI libraries can result in a 10x boost in our testing
  • If TLS performance is reasonable for your application we recommend using the j2se implementation for simplicity

To use conscrypt or wildfly, you will need to add the appropriate jars to your class path and create an SSL context manually. This context can be passed to the Options used when creating a connection. The NATSAutoBench example provides a conscrypt flag which can be used to try out the library, manually including the jar is required.

UTF-8 Subjects

The client protocol spec doesn't explicitly state the encoding on subjects. Some clients use ASCII and some use UTF-8 which matches ASCII for a-Z and 0-9. Until 2.1.2 the 2.0+ version of the Java client used ASCII for performance reasons. As of 2.1.2 you can choose to support UTF-8 subjects via the Options. Keep in mind that there is a small performance penalty for UTF-8 encoding and decoding in benchmarks, but depending on your application this cost may be negligible. Also, keep in mind that not all clients support UTF-8 and test accordingly.

NKey-based Challenge Response Authentication

The NATS server is adding support for a challenge response authentication scheme based on NKeys. Version 2.2.0 of the Java client supports this scheme via an AuthHandler interface. Version 2.3.0 replaced several NKey methods that used strings with methods using char[] to improve security.


The java-nats client is provided in a single jar file, with a single external dependency for the encryption in NKey support. See Building From Source for details on building the library.

Downloading the Jar

You can download the latest jar at https://search.maven.org/remotecontent?filepath=io/nats/jnats/2.8.0/jnats-2.8.0.jar.

The examples are available at https://search.maven.org/remotecontent?filepath=io/nats/jnats/2.8.0/jnats-2.8.0-examples.jar.

To use NKeys, you will need the ed25519 library, which can be downloaded at https://repo1.maven.org/maven2/net/i2p/crypto/eddsa/0.3.0/eddsa-0.3.0.jar.

Using Gradle

The NATS client is available in the Maven central repository, and can be imported as a standard dependency in your build.gradle file:

dependencies {
    implementation 'io.nats:jnats:2.8.0'

If you need the latest and greatest before Maven central updates, you can use:

repositories {
    maven {
        url "https://oss.sonatype.org/content/repositories/releases"
    maven {
        url "https://oss.sonatype.org/content/repositories/snapshots"

Using Maven

The NATS client is available on the Maven central repository, and can be imported as a normal dependency in your pom.xml file:


If you need the absolute latest, before it propagates to maven central, you can use the repository:


If you are using the 1.x version of java-nats and don't want to upgrade to 2.0.0 please use ranges in your POM file, java-nats-streaming 1.x is using [1.1, 1.9.9) for this.

Linux Platform Note

NATS uses RNG to generate unique inbox names. A peculiarity of the JDK on Linux (see JDK-6202721 and JDK-6521844) causes Java to use /dev/random even when /dev/urandom is called for. The net effect is that successive calls to newInbox(), either directly or through calling request() will become very slow, on the order of seconds, making many applications unusable if the issue is not addressed. A simple workaround would be to use the following jvm args.


Basic Usage

Sending and receiving with NATS is as simple as connecting to the nats-server and publishing or subscribing for messages. A number of examples are provided in this repo as described in [examples.md](src/examples/java/io/nats/examples/examples.md).


There are four different ways to connect using the Java library:

  1. Connect to a local server on the default port:

    Connection nc = Nats.connect();
  2. Connect to one or more servers using a URL:

    //single URL
    Connection nc = Nats.connect("nats://myhost:4222");
    //comma-separated list of URLs
    Connection nc = Nats.connect("nats://myhost:4222,nats://myhost:4223");
  3. Connect to one or more servers with a custom configuration:

    Options o = new Options.Builder().server("nats://serverone:4222").server("nats://servertwo:4222").maxReconnects(-1).build();
    Connection nc = Nats.connect(o);

    See the javadoc for a complete list of configuration options.

  4. Connect asynchronously, this requires a callback to tell the application when the client is connected:

    Options options = new Options.Builder().server(Options.DEFAULT_URL).connectionListener(handler).build();
    Nats.connectAsynchronously(options, true);

    This feature is experimental, please let us know if you like it.

  5. Connect with authentication handler:

    AuthHandler authHandler = Nats.credentials(System.getenv("NATS_CREDS")
    Connection nc = Nats.connect("nats://myhost:4222", authHandler);


Once connected, publishing is accomplished via one of three methods:

  1. With a subject and message body:

    nc.publish("subject", "hello world".getBytes(StandardCharsets.UTF_8));
  2. With a subject and message body, as well as a subject for the receiver to reply to:

    nc.publish("subject", "replyto", "hello world".getBytes(StandardCharsets.UTF_8));
  3. As a request that expects a reply. This method uses a Future to allow the application code to wait for the response. Under the covers a request/reply pair is the same as a publish/subscribe only the library manages the subscription for you.

    Future<Message> incoming = nc.request("subject", "hello world".getBytes(StandardCharsets.UTF_8));
    Message msg = incoming.get(500, TimeUnit.MILLISECONDS);
    String response = new String(msg.getData(), StandardCharsets.UTF_8);

All of these methods, as well as the incoming message code use byte arrays for maximum flexibility. Applications can send JSON, Strings, YAML, Protocol Buffers, or any other format through NATS to applications written in a wide range of languages.

Listening for Incoming Messages

The Java NATS library provides two mechanisms to listen for messages, three if you include the request/reply discussed above.

  1. Synchronous subscriptions where the application code manually asks for messages and blocks until they arrive. Each subscription is associated with a single subject, although that subject can be a wildcard.

    Subscription sub = nc.subscribe("subject");
    Message msg = sub.nextMessage(Duration.ofMillis(500));
    String response = new String(msg.getData(), StandardCharsets.UTF_8);
  2. A Dispatcher that will call application code in a background thread. Dispatchers can manage multiple subjects with a single thread and shared callback.

    Dispatcher d = nc.createDispatcher((msg) -> {
        String response = new String(msg.getData(), StandardCharsets.UTF_8);

    A dispatcher can also accept individual callbacks for any given subscription.

    Dispatcher d = nc.createDispatcher((msg) -> {});
    Subscription s = d.subscribe("some.subject", (msg) -> {
        String response = new String(msg.getData(), StandardCharsets.UTF_8);
        System.out.println("Message received (up to 100 times): " + response);
    d.unsubscribe(s, 100);


Publishing and subscribing to Jetstream enabled servers is straightforward. A Jetstream enabled application will connect to a server, establish a Jetstream context, and then publish or subscribe. This can be mixed and matched with standard NATS subject, and JetStream subscribers, depending on configuration, receive messages from both streams and directly from other NATS producers.

The Jetstream Context

After establishing a connection as described above, create a Jetstream Context.

    JetStream js = nc.jetStream();

You can pass options to configure the Jetstream client, although the defaults should suffice for most users. See the JetStreamOptions class.

There is no limit to the number of contexts used, although normally one would only require a single context. Contexts may be prefixed to be used in conjunction with NATS authorization.


To publish messages, use the JetStream.Publish(...) API. A stream must be established before publishing.

    // create a typical NATS message
    Message msg = new NatsMessage.Builder()
            .data("hello", StandardCharsets.UTF_8)

    PublishAck pa = js.publish(msg);

If there is a problem an exception will be thrown, and the message may not have been persisted. Otherwise, the stream name and sequence number is returned in the publish acknowledgement.

There are a variety of publish options that can be set when publishing. When duplicate checking has been enabled on the stream, a message ID should be set. One set of options are expectations. You can set a publish expectation such as a particular stream name, previous message ID, or previous sequence number. These are hints to the server that it should reject messages where these are not met, primarily for enforcing your ordering or ensuring messages are not stored on the wrong stream.

For example:

    PublishOptions opts = PublishOptions.builder().expectedStream("TEST").build();
    js.publish("foo", null, opts);

    js.publish("foo", null, opts);


There are three methods of subscribing: synchronous, synchronous with poll, and asynchronous. With synchronous subscribers you must always acknowledge messages. Asynchronous subscribers auto acknowledge by default, although this can be disabled through the subscription options in case you are using a consumer ack mode of none or all in the consumer configuration.

These examples provide a durable so messages will be preserved across server restarts (when a stream is using file storage) and client disconnects. Any subscriber can be a queue subscriber to load balance.


    Dispatcher d;


    SubscribeOptions so = SubscribeOptions.builder().durable("durable-name").build();
    js.subscribe(exArgs.subject, d, (Message msg) -> {
        // Process the message.  There is no need to ack unless auto ack
        // was disabled in the options.
    }, so);


    SubscribeOptions so = SubscribeOptions.builder().durable("sub-example").build();
    JetStreamSubscription sub = js.subscribe(exArgs.subject, so);
    Message msg = sub.nextMessage(Duration.ofHours(1));

    // process the message


Synchronous with poll:

A subscription can be set up to poll to request messages from a jetstream consumer, allowing for high performance while reducing impact to the server.

    SubscribeOptions so = SubscribeOptions.builder().poll(64).durable("sub-example").build();
    JetStreamSubscription sub = js.subscribe(exArgs.subject, so);
    while (true) {
        for (int i = 0; i < 64; i++) {
            Message msg = sub.nextMessage(Duration.ofMinutes(5));

            // process the message

        // get the next batch of messages.

If the consumer had an acknowledgement mode of "all", you could acknowledge only the last message to balance performance against the possibility of reprocessing a number of messages.

Message Acknowledgements

There are multiple types of acknowledgements in Jetstream:

  • Message.ack(): Acknowledges a message.
  • Message.ackSync(Duration): Acknowledges a message and waits for a confirmation. When used with deduplications this creates exactly once delivery guarantees (within the deduplication window). This may significantly impact performance of the system.
  • Message.nak(): A negative acknowledgment indicating processing failed and the message should be resent later.
  • Message.term(): Never send this message again, regardless of configuration.
  • Message.inProgress(): The message is being processed and reset the redelivery timer in the server. The message must be acknowledged later when processing is complete.

Note that exactly once delivery guarantee can be achieved by using a consumer with explicit ack mode attached to stream setup with a deduplication window and using the ackSync to acknowledge messages. The guarantee is only valid for the duration of the deduplication window.

Advanced Usage


NATS supports TLS 1.2. The server can be configured to verify client certificates or not. Depending on this setting the client has several options.

  1. The Java library allows the use of the tls:// protocol in its urls. This setting expects a default SSLContext to be set. You can set this default context using System properties, or in code. For example, you could run the publish example using:

    java -Djavax.net.ssl.keyStore=src/test/resources/keystore.jks -Djavax.net.ssl.keyStorePassword=password -Djavax.net.ssl.trustStore=src/test/resources/truststore.jks -Djavax.net.ssl.trustStorePassword=password io.nats.examples.NatsPub tls://localhost:4443 test "hello world"

    where the following properties are being set:


    This method can be used with or without client verification.

  2. During development, or behind a firewall where the client can trust the server, the library supports the opentls:// protocol which will use a special SSLContext that trusts all server certificates, but provides no client certificates.

    java io.nats.examples.NatsSub opentls://localhost:4443 test 3

    This method requires that client verification is off.

  3. Your code can build an SSLContext to work with or without client verification.

    SSLContext ctx = createContext();
    Options options = new Options.Builder().server(ts.getURI()).sslContext(ctx).build();
    Connection nc = Nats.connect(options);

If you want to try out these techniques, take a look at the [examples.md](src/examples/java/io/nats/examples/examples.md) for instructions.

Clusters & Reconnecting

The Java client will automatically reconnect if it loses its connection the nats-server. If given a single server, the client will keep trying that one. If given a list of servers, the client will rotate between them. When the nats servers are in a cluster, they will tell the client about the other servers, so that in the simplest case a client could connect to one server, learn about the cluster and reconnect to another server if its initial one goes down.

To tell the connection about multiple servers for the initial connection, use the servers() method on the options builder, or call server() multiple times.

String[] serverUrls = {"nats://serverOne:4222", "nats://serverTwo:4222"};
Options o = new Options.Builder().servers(serverUrls).build();

Reconnection behavior is controlled via a few options, see the javadoc for the Options.Builder class for specifics on reconnect limits, delays and buffers.


The io.nats.examples package contains two benchmarking tools, modeled after tools in other NATS clients. Both examples run against an existing nats-server. The first called io.nats.examples.benchmark.NatsBench runs two simple tests, the first simply publishes messages, the second also receives messages. Tests are run with 1 thread/connection per publisher or subscriber. Running on an iMac (2017), with 4.2 GHz Intel Core i7 and 64GB of memory produced results like:

Starting benchmark(s) [msgs=5000000, msgsize=256, pubs=2, subs=2]
Current memory usage is 966.14 mb / 981.50 mb / 14.22 gb free/total/max
Use ctrl-C to cancel.
Pub Only stats: 9,584,263 msgs/sec ~ 2.29 gb/sec
 [ 1] 4,831,495 msgs/sec ~ 1.15 gb/sec (2500000 msgs)
 [ 2] 4,792,145 msgs/sec ~ 1.14 gb/sec (2500000 msgs)
  min 4,792,145 | avg 4,811,820 | max 4,831,495 | stddev 19,675.00 msgs
Pub/Sub stats: 3,735,744 msgs/sec ~ 912.05 mb/sec
 Pub stats: 1,245,680 msgs/sec ~ 304.12 mb/sec
  [ 1] 624,385 msgs/sec ~ 152.44 mb/sec (2500000 msgs)
  [ 2] 622,840 msgs/sec ~ 152.06 mb/sec (2500000 msgs)
   min 622,840 | avg 623,612 | max 624,385 | stddev 772.50 msgs
 Sub stats: 2,490,461 msgs/sec ~ 608.02 mb/sec
  [ 1] 1,245,230 msgs/sec ~ 304.01 mb/sec (5000000 msgs)
  [ 2] 1,245,231 msgs/sec ~ 304.01 mb/sec (5000000 msgs)
   min 1,245,230 | avg 1,245,230 | max 1,245,231 | stddev .71 msgs
Final memory usage is 2.02 gb / 2.94 gb / 14.22 gb free/total/max

The second, called io.nats.examples.autobench.NatsAutoBench runs a series of tests with various message sizes. Running this test on the same iMac, resulted in:

PubOnly 0b           10,000,000          8,464,850 msg/s       0.00 b/s
PubOnly 8b           10,000,000         10,065,263 msg/s     76.79 mb/s
PubOnly 32b          10,000,000         12,534,612 msg/s    382.53 mb/s
PubOnly 256b         10,000,000          7,996,057 msg/s      1.91 gb/s
PubOnly 512b         10,000,000          5,942,165 msg/s      2.83 gb/s
PubOnly 1k            1,000,000          4,043,937 msg/s      3.86 gb/s
PubOnly 4k              500,000          1,114,947 msg/s      4.25 gb/s
PubOnly 8k              100,000            460,630 msg/s      3.51 gb/s
PubSub 0b            10,000,000          3,155,673 msg/s       0.00 b/s
PubSub 8b            10,000,000          3,218,427 msg/s     24.55 mb/s
PubSub 32b           10,000,000          2,681,550 msg/s     81.83 mb/s
PubSub 256b          10,000,000          2,020,481 msg/s    493.28 mb/s
PubSub 512b           5,000,000          2,000,918 msg/s    977.01 mb/s
PubSub 1k             1,000,000          1,170,448 msg/s      1.12 gb/s
PubSub 4k               100,000            382,964 msg/s      1.46 gb/s
PubSub 8k               100,000            196,474 msg/s      1.50 gb/s
PubDispatch 0b       10,000,000          4,645,438 msg/s       0.00 b/s
PubDispatch 8b       10,000,000          4,500,006 msg/s     34.33 mb/s
PubDispatch 32b      10,000,000          4,458,481 msg/s    136.06 mb/s
PubDispatch 256b     10,000,000          2,586,563 msg/s    631.49 mb/s
PubDispatch 512b      5,000,000          2,187,592 msg/s      1.04 gb/s
PubDispatch 1k        1,000,000          1,369,985 msg/s      1.31 gb/s
PubDispatch 4k          100,000            403,314 msg/s      1.54 gb/s
PubDispatch 8k          100,000            203,320 msg/s      1.55 gb/s
ReqReply 0b              20,000              9,548 msg/s       0.00 b/s
ReqReply 8b              20,000              9,491 msg/s     74.15 kb/s
ReqReply 32b             10,000              9,778 msg/s    305.59 kb/s
ReqReply 256b            10,000              8,394 msg/s      2.05 mb/s
ReqReply 512b            10,000              8,259 msg/s      4.03 mb/s
ReqReply 1k              10,000              8,193 msg/s      8.00 mb/s
ReqReply 4k              10,000              7,915 msg/s     30.92 mb/s
ReqReply 8k              10,000              7,454 msg/s     58.24 mb/s
Latency 0b    5,000     35 /  49.20 / 134    +/- 0.77  (microseconds)
Latency 8b    5,000     35 /  49.54 / 361    +/- 0.80  (microseconds)
Latency 32b   5,000     35 /  49.27 / 135    +/- 0.79  (microseconds)
Latency 256b  5,000     41 /  56.41 / 142    +/- 0.90  (microseconds)
Latency 512b  5,000     40 /  56.41 / 174    +/- 0.91  (microseconds)
Latency 1k    5,000     35 /  49.76 / 160    +/- 0.80  (microseconds)
Latency 4k    5,000     36 /  50.64 / 193    +/- 0.83  (microseconds)
Latency 8k    5,000     38 /  55.45 / 206    +/- 0.88  (microseconds)

It is worth noting that in both cases memory was not a factor, the processor and OS were more of a consideration. To test this, take a look at the NatsBench results again. Those are run without any constraint on the Java heap and end up doubling the used memory. However, if we run the same test again with a constraint of 1Gb using -Xmx1g, the performance is comparable, differentiated primarily by "noise" that we can see between test runs with the same settings.

Starting benchmark(s) [msgs=5000000, msgsize=256, pubs=2, subs=2]
Current memory usage is 976.38 mb / 981.50 mb / 981.50 mb free/total/max
Use ctrl-C to cancel.

Pub Only stats: 10,123,382 msgs/sec ~ 2.41 gb/sec
 [ 1] 5,068,256 msgs/sec ~ 1.21 gb/sec (2500000 msgs)
 [ 2] 5,061,691 msgs/sec ~ 1.21 gb/sec (2500000 msgs)
  min 5,061,691 | avg 5,064,973 | max 5,068,256 | stddev 3,282.50 msgs

Pub/Sub stats: 3,563,770 msgs/sec ~ 870.06 mb/sec
 Pub stats: 1,188,261 msgs/sec ~ 290.10 mb/sec
  [ 1] 594,701 msgs/sec ~ 145.19 mb/sec (2500000 msgs)
  [ 2] 594,130 msgs/sec ~ 145.05 mb/sec (2500000 msgs)
   min 594,130 | avg 594,415 | max 594,701 | stddev 285.50 msgs
 Sub stats: 2,375,839 msgs/sec ~ 580.04 mb/sec
  [ 1] 1,187,919 msgs/sec ~ 290.02 mb/sec (5000000 msgs)
  [ 2] 1,187,920 msgs/sec ~ 290.02 mb/sec (5000000 msgs)
   min 1,187,919 | avg 1,187,919 | max 1,187,920 | stddev .71 msgs

Final memory usage is 317.62 mb / 960.50 mb / 960.50 mb free/total/max

Building From Source

The build depends on Gradle, and contains gradlew to simplify the process. After cloning, you can build the repository and run the tests with a single command:

> git clone https://github.com/nats-io/nats.java
> cd nats.java
> ./gradlew build

This will place the class files in a new build folder. To just build the jar:

> ./gradlew jar

The jar will be placed in build/libs.

You can also build the java doc, and the samples jar using:

> ./gradlew javadoc
> ./gradlew exampleJar

The java doc is located in build/docs and the example jar is in build/libs. Finally, to run the tests with the coverage report:

> ./gradlew test jacocoTestReport

which will create a folder called build/reports/jacoco containing the file index.html you can open and use to browse the coverage. Keep in mind we have focused on library test coverage, not coverage for the examples.

Many of the tests run nats-server on a custom port. If nats-server is in your path they should just work, but in cases where it is not, or an IDE running tests has issues with the path you can specify the nats-server location with the environment variable nats_-_server_path.

TLS Certs

The raw TLS test certs are in [src/test/resources/certs](src/test/resources/certs) and come from the nats.go repository. However, the java client also needs a keystore and truststore.jks files for creating a context. These can be created using:

> cd src/test/resources
> keytool -keystore truststore.jks -alias CARoot -import -file certs/ca.pem -storepass password -noprompt -storetype pkcs12
> cat certs/client-key.pem certs/client-cert.pem > combined.pem
> openssl pkcs12 -export -in combined.pem -out cert.p12
> keytool -importkeystore -srckeystore cert.p12 -srcstoretype pkcs12 -deststoretype pkcs12 -destkeystore keystore.jks
> keytool -keystore keystore.jks -alias CARoot -import -file certs/ca.pem -storepass password -noprompt
> rm cert.p12 combined.pem


Unless otherwise noted, the NATS source files are distributed under the Apache Version 2.0 license found in the LICENSE file.

*Note that all licence references and agreements mentioned in the NATS client README section above are relevant to that project's source code only.