Schema Definition Export and Import

Overview

Nodes and clusters store information that can be thought of schema, metadata or topology. Users, vhosts, queues, exchanges, bindings, runtime parameters all fall into this category. This metadata is called definitions in RabbitMQ parlance.

Definitions can be exported to a file and then imported into another cluster or used for schema backup or data seeding.

Definitions are stored in an internal database and replicated across all cluster nodes. Every node in a cluster has its own replica of all definitions. When a part of definitions changes, the update is performed on all nodes in a single transaction. This means that in practice, definitions can be exported from any cluster node with the same result.

VMware Tanzu RabbitMQ supports continuous schema definition replication to a remote cluster, which makes it easy to run a warm standby cluster for disaster recovery.

Definition import on node boot is the recommended way of pre-configuring nodes at deployment time.

Definition Export

Definitions are exported as a JSON file in a number of ways.

Definitions can be exported for a specific virtual host or the entire cluster (all virtual host). When definitions are exported for just one virtual host, some information (contents of the other virtual hosts or users without any permissions to the target virtual host) will be excluded from the exported file.

Exported user data contains password hashes as well as password hashing function information. While brute forcing passwords with hashing functions such as SHA-256 or SHA-512 is not a completely trivial task, user records should be considered sensitive information.

To export definitions using rabbitmqctl, use rabbitmqctl export_definitions:

# Does not require management plugin to be enabled
rabbitmqctl export_definitions /path/to/definitions.file.json

rabbitmqadmin export is very similar but uses the HTTP API and is compatible with older versions:

# Requires management plugin to be enabled
rabbitmqadmin export /path/to/definitions.file.json

In this example, the GET /api/definitions endpoint is used directly to export definitions of all virtual hosts in a cluster:

# Requires management plugin to be enabled,
# placeholders are used for credentials and hostname.
# Use HTTPS when possible.
curl -u {username}:{password} -X GET http://{hostname}:15672/api/definitions

The response from the above API endpoint can be piped to jq and similar tools for more human-friendly formatting:

# Requires management plugin to be enabled,
# placeholders are used for credentials and hostname.
# Use HTTPS when possible.
#
# jq is a 3rd party tool that must be available in PATH
curl -u {username}:{password} -X GET http://{hostname}:15672/api/definitions | jq

Definition Import

To import definitions using rabbitmqctl, use rabbitmqctl import_definitions:

# Does not require management plugin to be enabled
rabbitmqctl import_definitions /path/to/definitions.file.json

rabbitmqadmin import is its HTTP API equivalent:

# Requires management plugin to be enabled
rabbitmqadmin import /path/to/definitions.file.json

It is also possible to use the POST /api/definitions API endpoint directly:

# Requires management plugin to be enabled,
# placeholders are used for credentials and hostname.
# Use HTTPS when possible.
curl -u {username}:{password} -X POST -T /path/to/definitions.file.json http://{hostname}:15672/api/definitions

Definition Import at Node Boot Time

A definition file can be imported during or after node startup time. In a multi-node cluster, at-boot-time imports can and in practice will result in repetitive work performed by the nodes on boot. This is of no concern with smaller definition files but with larger files, importing definitions after node boot after cluster deployment (formation) is recommended.

Modern releases support definition import directly in the core, without the need to preconfigure the management plugin.

To import definitions from a local file on node boot, set the load_definitions config key to a path of a previously exported JSON file with definitions:

# Does not require management plugin to be enabled.
load_definitions = /path/to/definitions/file.json

From RabbitMQ 3.9.4 you can import definitions from a URL accessible over HTTPS on node boot. Set the definitions.import_backend and definitions.https.url config keys to https and a valid URL where a JSON definition is located.

# Does not require management plugin to be enabled.
definitions.import_backend = https
definitions.https.url = https://raw.githubusercontent.com/rabbitmq/sample-configs/main/lot-of-queues/5k-queues.json
# client-side TLS options for definition import
definitions.tls.versions.1 = tlsv1.2

As of RabbitMQ 3.8.6, definition import happens after plugin activation. This means that definitions related to plugins (e.g. dynamic Shovels, exchanges of a custom type, and so on) can be imported at boot time.

The definitions in the file will not overwrite anything already in the broker. However, if a blank (uninitialised) node imports a definition file, it will not create the default virtual host and user.

Avoid Boot Time Import if Definition Contents Have Not Changed

By default definitions are imported by every cluster node, unconditionally. In many environments definition file rarely changes. In that case it makes sense to only perform an import when definition file contents actually change. Starting with RabbitMQ 3.10, this can be done by setting the definitions.skip_if_unchanged configuration key to true:

# when set to true, definition import will only happen
# if definition file contents change
definitions.skip_if_unchanged = true

definitions.import_backend = local_filesystem
definitions.local.path = /path/to/definitions/defs.json

This feature works for both individual files and directories:

# when set to true, definition import will only happen
# if definition file contents change
definitions.skip_if_unchanged = true

definitions.import_backend = local_filesystem
definitions.local.path = /path/to/definitions/conf.d/

It is also supported by the HTTPS endpoint import mechanism:

# when set to true, definition import will only happen
# if definition file contents change
definitions.skip_if_unchanged = true

definitions.import_backend = https
definitions.https.url = https://some.endpoint/path/to/rabbitmq.definitions.json

definitions.tls.verify     = verify_peer
definitions.tls.fail_if_no_peer_cert = true

definitions.tls.cacertfile = /path/to/ca_certificate.pem
definitions.tls.certfile   = /path/to/client_certificate.pem
definitions.tls.keyfile    = /path/to/client_key.pem

Definition Import After Node Boot

Installations that use earlier versions that do not provide the built-in definition import can import definitions immediately after node boot using a combination of two CLI commands:

# await startup for up to 5 minutes
rabbitmqctl await_startup --timeout 300

# import definitions using rabbitmqctl
rabbitmqctl import_definitions /path/to/definitions.file.json

# OR, import using rabbitmqadmin
# Requires management plugin to be enabled
rabbitmqadmin import /path/to/definitions.file.json
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