Let’s assume that in a Flex/BlazeDS application you have a destination and a number of producers and  consumers associated to that. All the messages created by the producers are received by the consumers, and sometimes you don’t want that – you need to send the message only to a specific consumer or to a specific subset. For example you may have a chat application, so you should be able to offer features like private messaging or the ability to send messages only to some selected users.

In order to implement that you can use message subtopics and message selectors. Both options are described in details in BlazeDS manual, however an important detail related to them is missing – what are the advantages and disadvantages in both cases. Below I’ll try to write the most significant one, related to performance.

The advantage of using selector is the fact that you can define complex expression in order to filter the clients – for example you can use SQL92 conditional expression syntax when testing the message header. The producer can add a string in the message header and every message will be scanned using Consumer selector. The disadvantage is related to performance – every message will be scanned using the consumer selector, and if you have a large number of consumers it can significantly hinder performance, so one should be be careful when using it.

The advantage of using a subtopic is related to performance. BlazeDS will build behind a HashMap per subtopic containing all the associated customers. When a message is produced it will be send to the customers from the corresponding map, without testing for a condition. If the number of consumers with the same subtopic is small compared with the total of consumers the performance difference between selectors and subtopics can be very large.

In conclusion try to stick with subtopics – in most of the cases you don’t need the selector flexibility.

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Original article at http://cornelcreanga.com/2010/09/blazeds-message-selectors-vs-subtopics/.