Last Monday, the 2017 edition of the GopherFest was held and we also gave a quick talk on how we added Context support to the NATS client, a feature which has been requested since around the time of the Go 1.7 release. As the context package now is part of Go, many more library authors are adopting it to support /cancellation propagation/ for blocking calls, making up for more readable code:

Tip: If it is a blocking call in a library, it will probably benefit from adding context.Context support soon.

At the talk, we gave a quick example of using it to make a Probe Request to gather many responses and either fade out and stop blocking waiting for responses or timeout with a hard deadline. Code from the talk is presented below, notice how we were able to implement this functionality without having to add extra goroutines or select statements.

package main

import (


func main() {
	nc, err := nats.Connect("nats://")
	if err != nil {
		log.Fatalf("Failed to connect: %s\n", err)

	nc.Subscribe("help", func(m *nats.Msg) {
		log.Printf("Received help request: %s\n", string(m.Data))

		for i := 0; i < 100; i++ {
			if i >= 3 {
				time.Sleep(300 * time.Millisecond)
			nc.Publish(m.Reply, []byte("ok can help"))
			log.Printf("Replied to help request (times=%d)\n", i)

	// Parent context
	ctx := context.Background()

	// Hard deadline for the whole context
	ctx, cancel := context.WithTimeout(ctx, 1*time.Second)
	defer cancel() // must be called always

	// Probe deadline will be expanded as we gather replies
	timer := time.AfterFunc(250*time.Millisecond, func() {

	replies := make([]interface{}, 0)

	// RequestWithContext is actually syntax sugar for something like this
	inbox := nats.NewInbox()
	sub, err := nc.SubscribeSync(inbox)
	defer sub.Unsubscribe()
	if err != nil {
		log.Fatalf("Failed to make request: %s\n", err)

	start := time.Now()
	err = nc.PublishRequest("help", inbox, []byte("please help!"))
	if err != nil {
		log.Fatalf("Failed to create request: %s\n", err)
	for {
		// Wait to receive all messages we can until we stop
		// hearing from members for over 250ms
		result, err := sub.NextMsgWithContext(ctx)
		if err != nil {
			log.Printf("Stopped waiting for replies (reason=%q)", err)
		replies = append(replies, result)
		timer.Reset(250 * time.Millisecond)
	log.Printf("Received %d messages in %.3f seconds", len(replies), time.Since(start).Seconds())

If you want to see the full talk, you can find it here on YouTube:

The slides from the talk are available on SlideShare:

Thanks again, and thanks to the organizers of GopherFest for arranging the event and letting me speak, it was a lot of fun!

If anyone has any questions or comments, feel free to contact me on Twitter, or in the NATS Slack Community (request an invite if you need one).

See you at GopherCon in a few months!


Back to Blog