course: Apache Kafka® 101

Hands On: Consumers

4 min
Danica Fine

Danica Fine

Senior Developer Advocate (Presenter)

Hands On: Consumers

In practice, programmatically producing and consuming messages is an important way to interact with your Apache Kafka cluster and put data into motion. In the first exercise of this course, we gained experience consuming from and producing to a Kafka topic using the command line. With that experience under your belt, let’s explore a more programmatic way of consuming messages by writing a consumer script in Python.

We recommend following these exercises in order so that you have everything you need to successfully complete the exercise. If you haven’t already set up your CLI to connect to your Confluent Cloud cluster, take a look at the previous exercise to get up to speed.

  1. Ensure that Python 3, pip, and virtualenv are installed on your machine. If they’re not, check out the prerequisites from the getting started with Python guide.
  2. From a terminal window, activate a new virtual environment and install the confluent-kafka library.
virtualenv env
source env/bin/activate
pip install confluent-kafka
  1. Determine your cluster endpoint by running:
confluent kafka cluster describe

The output contains an endpoint field; take note of the hostname and port from this value, for example, 4. You need an API key and secret in order to proceed. If you need a new one, make note of the cluster ID that was printed in step 3 and use it to run:

confluent api-key create --resource {ID}

Then set the key using:

confluent api-key use {API Key} --resource {ID}
  1. Using your favorite text editor, create a configuration file named config.ini and populate it with the following, substituting in your endpoint, key and secret values:
    bootstrap.servers=< Endpoint >
    sasl.username=< API Key >
    sasl.password=< API Secret >
    # 'auto.offset.reset=earliest' to start reading from the beginning of
    # the topic if no committed offsets exist.
  2. Create another file named that contains the following:
#!/usr/bin/env python
from argparse import ArgumentParser, FileType
from configparser import ConfigParser
from confluent_kafka import Consumer
if __name__ == '__main__':
    # Parse the command line.
    parser = ArgumentParser()
    parser.add_argument('config_file', type=FileType('r'))
    args = parser.parse_args()

    # Parse the configuration.
    config_parser = ConfigParser()
    config = dict(config_parser['default'])

    # Create Consumer instance
    consumer = Consumer(config)

    # Subscribe to topic
    topic = "poems"

    # Poll for new messages from Kafka and print them.
        while True:
            msg = consumer.poll(1.0)
            if msg is None:
            elif msg.error():
                print("ERROR: %s".format(msg.error()))
                # Extract the (optional) key and value, and print.
                print("Consumed event from topic {topic}: key = {key:12} value = {value:12}".format(topic=msg.topic(), key=msg.key().decode('utf-8'), value=msg.value().decode('utf-8')))
    except KeyboardInterrupt:
        # Leave group and commit final offsets
  1. Make the script executable and run:
chmod u+x
./ config.ini
  1. Observe the messages being output and stop the consumer script using ctrl+C.

This script was deliberately simple, but the steps of configuring your consumer, subscribing to a topic, and polling for events are common across all consumers. If you want more details on additional configuration changes that you may want to play around with in your consumer, feel free to check out the getting started guides on Confluent Developer.

Use the promo code KAFKA101 to get $101 of free Confluent Cloud usage

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