Lesson 1

Mastering AWS Messaging Fundamentals with Boto3

Lesson Introduction

Welcome to the first lesson of our course, "Mastering Messaging with AWS SDK for Python". In this lesson, we'll delve into the world of AWS messaging by exploring two key services: the Simple Queue Service (SQS) and the Simple Notification Service (SNS). Our choice of programming language is Python, with the Boto3 library enabling our interaction with these services.

Introducing SQS

The AWS Simple Queue Service (SQS) is a fully managed message queue service provided by Amazon Web Services that allows for the decoupling of application components. Here are some of its core features and limitations presented in a more readable format:

  • Fully Managed: AWS handles all ongoing operations and underlying infrastructure needed to provide a highly available and scalable queue.
  • Message Persistence: SQS stores messages in a queue, ensuring that no message is lost. Messages can stay in the queue for up to 14 days, providing ample time for processing.
  • Decoupling Components: Enables distributed application components to communicate asynchronously, reducing system interdependencies.


  • Message Size: Supports messages up to 256 KiB in size.
  • Visibility Timeout: SQS messages have a configurable visibility timeout which can be set up to 12 hours, with the default being 30 seconds. The visibility timeout is the period during which SQS prevents other consumers from receiving and processing the message, effectively acknowledging that the message is being processed. This mechanism ensures that messages are processed once and only once.

SQS is particularly beneficial in scenarios where you need to process messages at your own pace without losing any message. For example, if you're running a background job processing system, SQS can queue tasks such as image processing or data backup operations, ensuring each task is processed sequentially without overwhelming your system.

For more detailed information about SQS, consider referring to the official SQS AWS documentation.

Introducing SNS

Conversely, the AWS Simple Notification Service (SNS) is a fully managed messaging service optimized for sending notifications to a large number of subscribers or systems. It operates on a publish-subscribe model and differs notably from SQS in several areas:

  • Real-time Messaging: SNS facilitates real-time delivery of messages to multiple subscribers, making it ideal for event notification systems.
  • Non-persistent: If a message is sent but not received (in cases where subscribers are not available or listening), the message is lost. Thus, unlike SQS, SNS does not store messages after they have been sent to subscribers.


  • Message Size: Allows for messages up to 256KiB in size.
  • Topic Configuration: The service imposes certain restrictions on the number of topics, which could limit complex applications requiring a large number of distinct topics for organization.

An excellent use case for SNS would be for implementing system-wide alerts. Suppose you have a web application that needs to notify users of new features via email, SMS, and push notifications. SNS would allow you to publish this notification once to an SNS topic and have it automatically delivered to all subscribed endpoints, ensuring your users are promptly informed across all channels.

For more information about SNS, consider visiting the official SNS AWS documentation.

Examining SQS versus SNS

While SQS and SNS share common traits as powerful AWS messaging services, they hold distinct purposes and are suitable for different use cases. SQS is particularly suited for decoupling and scaling microservices and serverless applications, while SNS is most effective when a single message needs to be sent to multiple subscribers.

For instance, should you have an application that processes orders, SQS would be your top choice if you wish each order to be processed once, without risking duplicate processes due to multiple queues reading the same message. Conversely, if your application needed to notify multiple services (such as Email, SMS, HTTP endpoints) about an event, SNS would be more appropriate since it allows one message published to an SNS topic to be delivered to multiple subscribers.

Basics of Boto3 for AWS Messaging Services

Boto3 is the Amazon Web Services (AWS) SDK for Python. It allows Python developers to write software that interacts with AWS services, including SQS and SNS. It also facilitates creation, configuration, and management of AWS services using Python scripts.

While using Boto3 for AWS messaging services, remember that before executing any Boto3 function, you need to create either a Boto3 client or a Boto3 resource, depending on the available service operations you plan to utilize. This insight takes us to the next section.

Creating SQS and SNS Resources/Clients with Boto3 in Python

Let's now explore how to create clients or resources for SQS and SNS in Python using Boto3, step-by-step:

1import boto3 2 3# Create default SQS resource 4default_sqs_resource = boto3.resource('sqs') 5 6# Create default SQS client 7default_sqs_client = boto3.client('sqs') 8 9# Create default SNS resource 10default_sns_resource = boto3.resource('sns') 11 12# Create default SNS client 13default_sns_client = boto3.client('sns')

In the code above, we first import the Boto3 library. Then, we create an SQS resource and client, followed by an SNS resource and client.

Creating clients or resources tied to specific sessions allows your application to interact with AWS services across different regions or using different security credentials. This capability is particularly helpful in scenarios like operating in multi-regional deployments for lower latency, adhering to data sovereignty laws by ensuring data is stored and processed in specific geopolitical regions, or isolating different parts of your application for enhanced security through varied levels of access control. To adapt to these needs, you can specify custom sessions as detailed below:

1# Create AWS session with specified region and credentials 2session = boto3.Session( 3 aws_access_key_id='YOUR_ACCESS_KEY', 4 aws_secret_access_key='YOUR_SECRET_KEY', 5 region_name='YOUR_REGION' 6) 7 8# Create SQS resource based on this session 9sqs_from_session = session.resource('sqs') 10 11# Create SNS client based on this session 12sns_from_session = session.client('sns')

In this segment, we create a new session in Boto3, with the access key, secret key, and region defined individually. We then create an SQS resource and an SNS client based on this session.

Summarizing the Lesson and Next Steps

Congratulations! You've just completed the first lesson of the "Mastering Messaging with AWS SDK for Python" course. You've gained knowledge about AWS's SQS and SNS services, have a clear understanding of their differences, and have learned how to create resources and clients for these services using Python’s Boto3 library.

In the upcoming lessons, we'll delve deeper into topics such as managing messages, creating queues and topics, and configuring settings for more advanced use cases. This is a significant milestone. As we continue learning, remember to practice the content of this lesson thoroughly before proceeding to the following lessons, for a smoother progression.

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