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Amazon SQS Long Polling not returning all messages

I have a requirement to read all messages in my Amazon SQS queue in 1 read and then sort it based on created timestamp and do business logic on it.

To make sure all the SQS hosts are checked for messages, I enabled long polling. The way I did that was to set the default wait time for the queue as 10 seconds. (Any value more than 0 will enable long polling).

However when I tried to read the queue, it still did not give me all the messages and I had to do multiple reads to get all the messages. I even enabled long polling through code per receive request, still did not work. Below is the code I am using.

AmazonSQSClient sqsClient = new AmazonSQSClient(new ClasspathPropertiesFileCredentialsProvider());
sqsClient.setEndpoint("sqs.us-west-1.amazonaws.com");
String queueUrl = "https://sqs.us-west-1.amazonaws.com/12345/queueName";
ReceiveMessageRequest receiveRequest = new ReceiveMessageRequest().withQueueUrl(queueUrl).withMaxNumberOfMessages(10).withWaitTimeSeconds(20);
List<Message> messages = sqsClient.receiveMessage(receiveRequest).getMessages();

I have 3 messages in the queue and each time I run the code I get a different result, sometimes I get all 3 messages, sometimes just 1. The visibility timeout I set as 2 seconds, just to eliminate the messages becoming invisible as the reason for not seeing them in the read. This is the expected behavior for short polling. Long polling is supposed to eliminate multiple polls. Is there anything I am doing wrong here?

Thanks

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Answer

Long polling is supposed to eliminate multiple polls

No, long polling is supposed to eliminate a large number of empty polls and false empty responses when messsages are actually available. A long poll in SQS won’t sit and wait for the maximum amount of wait time just looking for more things to return, or keep searching once it’s found something. A long poll in SQS only waits long enough to find something:

Long polling allows the Amazon SQS service to wait until a message is available in the queue before sending a response. So unless the connection times out, the response to the ReceiveMessage request will contain at least one of the available messages (if any) and up to the maximum number requested in the ReceiveMessage call.

http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AWSSimpleQueueService/latest/SQSDeveloperGuide/sqs-long-polling.html (emphasis added)

So, the “something” that SQS finds and returns may be all of the messages (up to your max), or a subset of the messages, because, as has been mentioned, SQS is a distributed system. There was likely an architectural decision to be made between “return as quickly as possible once we’ve found something” and “search the entire system for everything possible up to the maximum number of message the client will accept” … and, given those alternatives, it seems reasonable that most applications would prefer the faster response of “give me whatever you can, as quickly as you can.”

You don’t know that you’ve actually drained a queue until you get back an empty response from a long poll.

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