The upcoming Eclipse Ditto version 3.0.0 will ship with a major refactoring of the MQTT connectivity module.
In this post we want to highlight what’s new and why this could be interesting for you.

Backpressure via throttling

The most noteworthy innovation is that Ditto now consumes incoming publish messages by using the reactive API flavour of the HiveMQ client.
This, together with throttling, effectively enables backpressure for inbound MQTT publishes for protocol version 3.x and 5:

connectivity.confthrottling {
  enabled = true 

  # Interval at which the consumer is throttled. Must be > 0s.
  interval = 1s

  # The maximum number of messages the consumer is allowed to receive
  # within the configured throttling interval e.g. 100 msgs/s.
  # Must be > 0.
  limit = 100

This kind of throttling applies to all in-flight messages – no matter what their QoS is set to.
Backpressure protects Ditto from congestion caused by a too high amount of incoming publishes.
Of course the broker has to deal with backpressure as well when throttling in Ditto is enabled because the amount of unprocessed messages would pile up at the broker.

Flow Control with Receive Maximum (MQTT 5)

With MQTT 5 it is possible to specify a Receive Maximum when the client connects to the broker.
For QoS 1 or 2 this value determines how many unacknowledged incoming messages the client accepts from the broker.
Apart from throttling this is an additional approach how Ditto can be protected from excessive load – at least for MQTT 5 connections.
The (client) Receive Maximum can be set for Ditto either in configuration or via environment variable:

connectivity.confreceive-maximum-client = 65535

For more details, please have a look at HiveMQ’s MQTT 5 Essentials, Part 12 that covers just this topic.

Unified implementation

Under the hood, almost anything related to MQTT changed. With the previous implementation most of the logic was divided into a common base implementation and a concrete implementation for protocol version 3.1.1 and 5.
Obviously this worked.
However, the algorithms were scattered over multiple classes which made it difficult to understand what is going on (hello, maintainability 😉).

Now, the distinction between protocol version 3.x and 5 is made on the level of data structures.
Luckily the evolution of the MQTT protocol from version 3.1.1 to version 5 as well as the design of HiveMQ’s client library made this very easy.
For example, instead of dealing with a Mqtt3Publish and a Mqtt5Publish in parallel all the time we introduced a GenericMqttPublish which can be converted from and to the specific types at the time when they come in contact with the client.
The rest of the time Ditto can work with the generic representation.


The Eclipse Ditto team