Writing and Responding to Pub/Sub Messages

Region ID

The REGION_ID is an abbreviated code that Google assigns based on the region you select when you create your app. The code does not correspond to a country or province, even though some region IDs may appear similar to commonly used country and province codes. Including REGION_ID.r in App Engine URLs is optional for existing apps and will soon be required for all new apps.

To ensure a smooth transition, we are slowly updating App Engine to use region IDs. If we haven't updated your Google Cloud project yet, you won't see a region ID for your app. Since the ID is optional for existing apps, you don't need to update URLs or make other changes once the region ID is available for your existing apps.

Learn more about region IDs.

Pub/Sub provides reliable, many-to-many, asynchronous messaging between applications. Publisher applications can send messages to a topic, and other applications can subscribe to that topic to receive the messages.

This document describes how to use the Cloud Client Library to send and receive Pub/Sub messages in a Node.js app.


  • Follow the instructions in "Hello, World!" for Node.js on App Engine to set up your environment and project, and to understand how App Engine Node.js apps are structured.
  • Write down and save your project ID, because you will need it to run the sample application described in this document.

Cloning the sample app

Copy the sample apps to your local machine, and navigate to the pubsub directory:

git clone https://github.com/GoogleCloudPlatform/nodejs-docs-samples
cd nodejs-docs-samples/appengine/pubsub

Creating a topic and subscription

Create a topic and subscription, which includes specifying the endpoint to which the Pub/Sub server should send requests:

gcloud pubsub topics create YOUR_TOPIC_NAME
gcloud pubsub subscriptions create YOUR_SUBSCRIPTION_NAME \
    --topic YOUR_TOPIC_NAME \
    --push-endpoint \
    https://YOUR_PROJECT_ID.REGION_ID.r.appspot.com/pubsub/push?token=YOUR_TOKEN \
    --ack-deadline 10

Replace YOUR_TOKEN with a secret random token. The push endpoint uses this to verify requests.

Setting environment variables

Edit app.flexible.yaml to set the environment variables for your project ID, topic, and verification token:

  # This token is used to verify that requests originate from your
  # application. It can be any sufficiently random string.

Code review

The sample app uses the Cloud Client Libraries.

The sample app uses the values you set in the app.flexible.yaml file to configure environment variables. The push request handler uses these values to confirm that the request came from Pub/Sub and originated from a trusted source:

// The following environment variables are set by app.flexible.yaml when
// running on App Engine, but will need to be manually set when running locally.
var pubsub = gcloud.pubsub({
    projectId: process.env.GOOGLE_CLOUD_PROJECT
var topic = pubsub.topic(process.env.PUBSUB_TOPIC);

The sample app maintains a global list to store messages received by this instance:

// List of all messages received by this instance
var messages = [];

This method receives pushed messages and adds them to the messages global list:

app.post('/pubsub/push', jsonBodyParser, (req, res) => {
  if (req.query.token !== PUBSUB_VERIFICATION_TOKEN) {

  // The message is a unicode string encoded in base64.
  const message = Buffer.from(req.body.message.data, 'base64').toString(



This method interacts with the App Engine web app to publish new messages and display received messages:

app.get('/', (req, res) => {
  res.render('index', {messages, tokens, claims});

app.post('/', formBodyParser, async (req, res, next) => {
  if (!req.body.payload) {
    res.status(400).send('Missing payload');

  const data = Buffer.from(req.body.payload);
  try {
    const messageId = await topic.publish(data);
    res.status(200).send(`Message ${messageId} sent.`);
  } catch (error) {

Running the sample locally

When running locally, you can use the Cloud SDK to provide authentication to use Google Cloud APIs. Assuming you set up your environment as described in Prerequisites, you have already run the gcloud init command, which provides this authentication.

Then set environment variables before starting your application:

export GOOGLE_CLOUD_PROJECT=[your-project-id]
export PUBSUB_VERIFICATION_TOKEN=[your-verification-token]
export PUBSUB_TOPIC=[your-topic]
npm install
npm start

Simulating push notifications

The application can send messages locally, but it is not able to receive push messages locally. You can, however, simulate a push message by making an HTTP request to the local push notification endpoint. The sample includes the file sample_message.json.

You can use curl or a httpie client to send an HTTP POST request:

curl -H "Content-Type: application/json" -i --data @sample_message.json "localhost:8080/pubsub/push?token=[your-token]"


http POST ":8080/pubsub/push?token=[your-token]" < sample_message.json


HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Connection: keep-alive
Date: Mon, 31 Aug 2015 22:19:50 GMT
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
X-Powered-By: Express

After the request completes, you can refresh localhost:8080 and see the message in the list of received messages.

Running on App Engine

To deploy the demo app to App Engine by using the gcloud command-line tool, you run the following command from the directory where your app.flexible.yaml is located:

gcloud app deploy app.flexible.yaml

You can now access the application at https://PROJECT_ID.REGION_ID.r.appspot.com. You can use the form to submit messages, but there's no guarantee of which instance of your application will receive the notification. You can send multiple messages and refresh the page to see the received message.