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0.20.0 • Public • Published

Zeebe Node.js Client

License CircleCI

This is a Node.js gRPC client for Zeebe. It is written in TypeScript and transpiled to JavaScript in the dist directory.

Comprehensive API documentation is available online and in the docs subdirectory.

Docker-compose configurations for Zeebe are available at


To enable that the client libraries can be easily supported to the Zeebe server we are remapping the version numbers, so that Major, Minor match the server application. Patches will be independent and indicate client updates.

NPM Package version 0.20.x supports Zeebe 0.20.x

NPM Package version 0.19.x supports Zeebe 0.19.x

NPM Package version 2.x.x supports Zeebe 0.18.

NPM Package version 1.x.x supports Zeebe 0.15/0.16.

Type difference from other Zeebe clients

Protobuf fields of type int64 are serialised as type string in the Node library. These fields are serialised as numbers (long) in the Go and Java client. See grpc/#7229 for why the Node library serialises them as string. The Workflow instance key, and other fields that are of type long in other client libraries, are type string in this library. Fields of type int32 are serialised as type number in the Node library.

Example Use

Add the Library to your Project

npm i zeebe-node

Get Broker Topology

const ZB = require('zeebe-node')
;(async () => {
    const zbc = new ZB.ZBClient('localhost:26500')
    const topology = await zbc.topology()
    console.log(JSON.stringify(topology, null, 2))
    let workflows = await zbc.listWorkflows()

Deploy a workflow

const ZB = require('zeebe-node')
;(async () => {
    const zbc = new ZB.ZBClient('localhost:26500')
    const res = await zbc.deployWorkflow('./domain-mutation.bpmn')

Client-side gRPC retry in ZBClient

If a gRPC command method fails in the ZBClient - such as ZBClient.deployWorkflow or ZBClient.topology(), the underlying gRPC library will throw an exception.

If no workers have been started, this can be fatal to the process if it is not handled by the application logic. This is especially an issue when a worker container starts before the Zeebe gRPC gateway is available to service requests, and can be inconsistent as this is a race condition.

To mitigate against this, the Node client implements some client-side gRPC operation retry logic by default. This can be configured, including disabled, via configuration in the client constructor.

  • Operations retry, but only for gRPC error code 14 - indicating a transient network failure. This can be caused by passing in an unresolvable gateway address (14: DNS Resolution failed), or by the gateway not being ready yet (14: UNAVAILABLE: failed to connect to all addresses).
  • Operations that fail for other reasons, such as deploying an invalid bpmn file or cancelling a workflow that does not exist, do not retry.
  • Retry is enabled by default, and can be disabled by passing { retry: false } to the client constructor.
  • maxRetries and maxRetryTimeout are also configurable through the constructor options. By default, if not supplied, the values are:
const zbc = new ZB.ZBClient(gatewayAddress, {
    retry: true,
    maxRetries: 50,
    maxRetryTimeout: 5000

Retry is provided by promise-retry, and the back-off strategy is simple ^2.


In case you need to connect to a secured endpoint, you can enable TLS.

const zbc = new ZB.ZBClient(gatewayAddress, {
    tls: true,

Create a Task Worker

const ZB = require('zeebe-node')
;(async () => {
    const zbc = new ZB.ZBClient('localhost:26500')
    const zbWorker = zbc.createWorker('test-worker', 'demo-service', handler)
function handler(job, complete) {
    console.log('Task variables', job.variables)
    let updatedVariables = Object.assign({}, job.variables, {
        updatedProperty: 'newValue',
    // Task worker business logic goes here

Here is an example job:

{ key: '578',
  type: 'demo-service',
   { workflowInstanceKey: '574',
     bpmnProcessId: 'test-process',
     workflowDefinitionVersion: 1,
     workflowKey: '3',
     elementId: 'ServiceTask_0xdwuw7',
     elementInstanceKey: '577' },
  customHeaders: '{}',
  worker: 'test-worker',
  retries: 3,
  deadline: '1546915422636',
  variables: { testData: 'something' } }

The worker can be configured with options. Shown below are the defaults that apply if you don't supply them:

const workerOptions = {
    maxActiveJobs: 32, // the number of simultaneous tasks this worker can handle
    timeout: 1000, // the maximum amount of time the broker should allow this worker to complete a task
const onConnectionError = err => console.log(err) // Called when the connection to the broker cannot be established, or fails
const zbWorker = zbc.createWorker(

Unhandled Exceptions in Task Handlers

When a task handler throws an unhandled exception, the library will fail the job. Zeebe will then retry the job according to the retry settings of the task. Sometimes you want to halt the entire workflow so you can investigate. To have the library cancel the workflow on an unhandled exception, pass in {failWorkflowOnException: true} to the createWorker call:

zbc.createWorker('test-worker', 'console-log', maybeFaultyHandler, {
    failWorkflowOnException: true,

Completing tasks with success or failure

To complete a task, the task worker handler function receives a complete method. This method has a success and a failure method (as well as being able to be called directly). Calling the method directly - complete() is the same as calling complete.success().

Call complete.success() (or just complete()) passing in a optional plain old JavaScript object (POJO) - a key:value map. These are variable:value pairs that will be used to update the workflow state in the broker.

Call complete.failure() to fail the task. You must pass in a string message describing the failure. The client library decrements the retry count, and the broker handles the retry logic. If the failure is a hard failure and should cause an incident to be raised in Operate, then pass in 0 for the optional second parameter, retries:

complete.failure('This is a critical failure and will raise an incident', 0)

Start a Workflow Instance

const ZB = require('zeebe-node')
;(async () => {
    const zbc = new ZB.ZBClient('localhost:26500')
    const result = await zbc.createWorkflowInstance('test-process', {
        testData: 'something',

Example output:

{ workflowKey: '3',
  bpmnProcessId: 'test-process',
  version: 1,
  workflowInstanceKey: '569' }

Publish a Message

const zbc = new ZB.ZBClient('localhost:26500')
    correlationKey: 'value-to-correlate-with-workflow-variable',
    messageId: uuid.v4(),
    name: 'message-name',
    variables: { valueToAddToWorkflowVariables: 'here', status: 'PROCESSED' },
    timeToLive: 10000,

You can also publish a message targeting a Message Start Event. In this case, the correlation key is optional, and all Message Start events that match the name property will receive the message.

You can use the publishStartMessage() method to publish a message with no correlation key (it will be set to a random uuid in the background):

const zbc = new ZB.ZBClient('localhost:26500')
    messageId: uuid.v4(),
    name: 'message-name',
    variables: { initialWorkflowVariable: 'here' },
    timeToLive: 10000,

Both normal messages and start messages can be published idempotently by setting both the messageId and the correlationKey. They will only ever be correlated once. See: A message can be published idempotent.

Graceful Shutdown

To drain workers, call the close() method of the ZBClient. This causes all workers using that client to stop polling for jobs, and returns a Promise that resolves when all active jobs have either finished or timed out.

console.log('Closing client...')
zbc.close().then(() => console.log('All workers closed'))

Generating TypeScript constants for BPMN Processes

Message names and Task Types are untyped magic strings. The BpmnParser class provides a static method generateConstantsForBpmnFiles(). This method takes a filepath and returns TypeScript definitions that you can use to avoid typos in your code, and to reason about the completeness of your task worker coverage.

const ZB = require('zeebe-node')
;(async () => {
    console.log(await ZB.BpmnParser.generateConstantsForBpmnFiles(workflowFile))

This will produce output similar to:

// Autogenerated constants for msg-start.bpmn
export enum TaskType = {
    CONSOLE_LOG = "console-log"
export enum MessageName = {


Control the log output for the client library by setting the ZBClient log level. Valid log levels are NONE (supress all logging), ERROR (log only exceptions), INFO (general logging), or DEBUG (verbose logging). You can set this in the client constructor:

const zbc = new ZBClient('localhost', { loglevel: 'DEBUG' })

And also via the environment:

ZB_NODE_LOG_LEVEL='ERROR' node start.js

By default the library uses and console.error for logging. You can also pass in a custom logger, such as pino:

const logger = require('pino')()
const zbc = new ZBClient('', { stdout: logger })


The source is written in TypeScript in src, and compiled to ES6 in the dist directory.

To build:

npm run build

To start a watcher to build the source and API docs while you are developing:

npm run dev


Tests are written in Jest, and live in the src/__tests__ directory. To run the unit tests:

npm t

Integration tests are in the src/__tests__/integration directory.

They require a Zeebe broker to run. You can run them using the Circle CI CLI:

circleci local execute -c .circleci/config.yml --job test

Or you can start a dockerised broker:

cd docker
docker-compose up

And then run them manually:

npm run test:integration

For the failure test, you need to run Operate (docker-compose config) and manually verify that an incident has been raised at http://localhost:8080.


Josh Wulf
Jarred Filmer
Timothy Colbert
Olivier Albertini


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