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Kafka Streams – An Introduction

Apache Kafka is a message broker which has gained popularity all over the world, and the Kafka Streams is one of the most useful additions to it.

What is Kafka Streams?

The Streams API was recently released as an addition to the existing official Kafka project, to make it easier for developers to write applications and micro services. The Streams API is available as a Java library which is open-sourced, which can be used by the developers to write mission-critical applications which can also harvest the benefits that Kafka has on its server-side.

Kafka Streams started out as a simple library, but it also addressed a whole lot of issues which programmers were facing in the field of stream processing. There was a lack of a convenient DSL, and stateful processing was difficult for the user. Rolling deployments were impossible without downtime of the system, and reprocessing capabilities of the system after the code was changed was limited. All of these issues were addressed with the Kafka Streams API, and the many Kafka Streams examples are a testament to that.

Kafka streams is a library to build applications for streaming, which can specifically transform input Kafka topics into output topics (database updates, whatever you may choose to call it). The code which lets you do this is exceedingly concise, and the process is fault-tolerant and distributed too. In a general sense, stream processing is a paradigm which exploits the idea of parallel processing, albeit in a limited manner.

One of the many uses of Kafka is the real-time processing feature, which is a key application. A continuous stream of data which is incoming can be analysed at the same time, in order to obtain some useful information from it. Real-time processing in terms of Kafka usually involves reading data from a source, analyzing it or transforming it and then writing the results back out into the place where it is required to be written, or a sink. Kafka streams is an easy way to do the above, and this is done with the help of code which is concise.

There are many Kafka Streams examples available on the internet, which are a testament to its ease-of-use and capabilities. The code is easy to understand, and the system can be implemented in no time if you have some experience in Kafka. Therefore, the Kafka Streams API represents a real improvement in the existing processing systems.

Kafka streams tutorial and the methods to use Kafka to improve your organisation are covered in a comprehensive manner in our self paced course on Kafka here.

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