cote — A Node.js library for building zero-configuration microservices

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cote lets you write zero-configuration microservices in Node.js without nginx, haproxy, redis, rabbitmq or anything else. It is batteries — and chargers! — included.

Join us on cote Slack for anything related to cote.


Develop your first microservices in under two minutes:

in time-service.js

const cote = require('cote');
const timeService = new cote.Responder({ name: 'Time Service' });

timeService.on('time', (req, cb) => {
    cb(new Date());

in client.js

const cote = require('cote');
const client = new cote.Requester({ name: 'Client' });

client.send({ type: 'time' }, (time) => {

You can run these files anyway you like — on a single machine or scaled out to hundreds of machines in different datacenters — and they will just work. No configuration, no third party components, no nginx, no kafka, no consul and only Node.js. cote is batteries — and chargers — included!

Microservices case study

Make sure to check out the e-commerce case study that implements a complete e-commerce application with microservices using cote. It features;

cote plays very well with Docker, taking advantage of its network overlay features. The case study implements a scalable microservices application via Docker and can scale to multiple machines.

Table of Contents

  1. Motivation
  2. Getting started
    1. Introduction to cote
    2. Installation
    3. Using cote for the first time
    4. Implementing a request-response mechanism
      1. Creating a requester
      2. Creating a responder
    5. Tracking changes in the system with a publish-subscribe mechanism
      1. Creating the arbitration service
      2. Creating a publisher
      3. Creating a subscriber
  3. Components Reference
    1. Requester
    2. Responder
    3. Publisher
    4. Subscriber
    5. Sockend
    6. Monitor
    7. Monitoring Tool
  4. Advanced Usage
    1. Environments
    2. Keys
    3. Namespaces
    4. Multicast address
    5. Broadcast address
    6. Controlling cote with environment variables
  5. Deploying with Docker Cloud
  6. Using centralized discovery tools
  7. FAQ
  8. Contribution
  9. License


Tomorrow belongs to distributed software microservices. As CPU performance is heavily dictated by the number of cores and the power of each core is already at its limits, distributed computing will decide how your application performs. Distributed systems Microservices also pose great architectural benefits such as fault-tolerance and scalability.

Components of such a distributed system microservices should be able to find other components zeroconf and communicate over a set of conventions. Sometimes they may work as a cluster, may include a pub/sub mechanism, or a request/response mechanism.

cote brings you all the advantages of distributed software microservices. Think of it like homing pigeons.

Getting Started

Introduction to cote

cote allows you to implement hassle-free microservices by utilizing auto-discovery and other techniques. Typically, in a microservices system, the application is broken into smaller chunks that communicate with each other. cote helps you build such a system by providing you several key components which you can use for service communication.

In a way, cote is the glue that’s most necessary between different microservices. It replaces queue protocols and service registry software by clever use of IP broadcast/IP multicast systems. It’s like your computer discovering there’s an Apple TV nearby. This means, cote needs an environment that allows the use of IP broadcast or multicast, in order to scale beyond a single machine. Most bare-metal systems are designed this way, however, cloud infrastructure like AWS needs special care, either an overlay network like Weave, or better yet, just, Docker — which is fortunately the way run all of our software today anyway. That’s why Docker is especially important for cote, as it enables cote to work its magic.

cote also replaces HTTP communication. Microservices architecture is meant for hundreds of internal services communicating with each other. That being the case, a protocol like HTTP is cumbersome and heavy for communication that doesn’t need 90% of HTTP’s features. Therefore, cote uses a very light protocol over plain old TCP sockets for communication, making it fast, effective and most importantly, cheap.


cote is a Node.js library for building microservices applications. It’s available as an npm package.

Install cote locally via npm:

npm install cote

Using cote for the first time

Whether you want to integrate cote with an existing web application — e.g. based on express.js as exemplified here — or you want to rewrite a portion of your monolith, or you want to rewrite a few microservices with cote, all you need to do is to instantiate a few of cote’s components (e.g. Responder, Requester, Publisher, Subscriber) depending on your needs, and they will start communicating automatically. While one component per process might be enough for simple applications or for tiny microservices, a complex application would require close communication and collaboration of multiple microservices. Hence, you may instantiate multiple components in a single process / service / application.

Implementing a request-response mechanism

The most common scenario for applications is the request-response cycle. Typically, one microservice would request a task to be carried out or make a query to another microservice, and get a response in return. Let’s implement such a solution with cote.

First, require cote;

const cote = require('cote');

Creating a requester

Then, instantiate any component you want. Let’s start with a Requester that shall ask for, say, currency conversions. Requester and all other components are classes on the main cote object, so we instantiate them with the new keyword.

const requester = new cote.Requester({ name: 'currency conversion requester' });

All cote components require an object as the first argument, which should at least have a name property to identify the component. The name is used mainly as an identifier in monitoring components, and it’s helpful when you read the logs later on as each component, by default, logs the name of the other components they discover.

Requesters send requests to the ecosystem, and are expected to be used alongside Responders to fulfill those requests. If there are no Responders around, a Requester will just queue the request until one is available. If there are multiple Responders, a Requester will use them in a round-robin fashion, load-balancing among them.

Let’s create and send a convert request, to ask for conversion from USD into EUR.

const request = { type: 'convert', from: 'usd', to: 'eur', amount: 100 };

requester.send(request, (res) => {

You can save this file as client.js and run it via node client.js.

Click to see the complete client.js file.

```js const cote = require('cote'); const requester = new cote.Requester({ name: 'currency conversion requester' }); const request = { type: 'convert', from: 'usd', to: 'eur', amount: 100 }; requester.send(request, (res) => { console.log(res); }); ```

Now this request will do nothing, and there won’t be any logs in the console, because there are no components to fulfill this request and produce a response.

Keep this process running, and let’s create a Responder to respond to currency conversion requests.

Creating a responder

We first instantiate a Responder with the new keyword.

const responder = new cote.Responder({ name: 'currency conversion responder' });

As detailed in Responder, each Responder is also an instance of EventEmitter2. Responding to a certain request, let’s say convert, is the same as listening to the convert event, and handling it with a function that takes two parameters: a request and a callback. The request parameter holds information about a single request, and it’s basically the same request object the requester above sent. The second parameter, the callback, expects to be called with the actual response.

Here’s how a simple implementation might look like.

const rates = { usd_eur: 0.91, eur_usd: 1.10 };

responder.on('convert', (req, cb) => {
    cb(req.amount * rates[`${req.from}_${}`]);

Now you can save this file as conversion-service.js and run it via node conversion-service.js on a separate terminal.

Click to see the complete conversion-service.js file.

```js const cote = require('cote'); const responder = new cote.Responder({ name: 'currency conversion responder' }); const rates = { usd_eur: 0.91, eur_usd: 1.10 }; responder.on('convert', (req, cb) => { cb(req.amount * rates[`${req.from}_${}`]); }); ```

As you run the service, you will immediately see the first request in client.js being fulfilled and logged to the console. Now you can take this idea and build your services on it.

Notice how we didn’t have to configure IP addresses, ports, hostnames, or anything else.

Note: By default, every Requester will connect to every Responder it discovers, regardless of the request type. This means, every Responder should respond to the exact same set of requests, because Requesters will load-balance requests between all connected Responders regardless of their capabilities, i.e, whether or not they can handle a given request.

If you have multiple Responders with varying response handlers, you will experience lost requests. In cote, this separation between responsibilities is called segmentation, or partitioning. If you wish to segment your requests in groups, you can use keys. Check out keys for a detailed guide on how and when to use segmentation.

Tracking changes in the system with a publish-subscribe mechanism

One of the benefits of a microservices approach is its ease of use as a tool for tasks that previously required serious infrastructural investments. Such a task is managing updates and tracking changes in a system. Previously, this required at least a queue infrastructure with fanout, and scaling and managing this technological dependency would be a hurdle on its own.

Fortunately, cote solves this problem in a very intuitive and almost magical way.

Say, we need an arbitration service in our application which decides currency rates, and whenever there’s a change within the system, it should notify all the instances of conversion services, so that they facilitate the new values.

Of course, the arbitration service would be API driven, and would receive the new rates over another request so that for example an admin can enter the values through a back office application. The arbitration service should take this update and basically forward it to every conversion service. In order to achieve this, the arbitration service should have two components: one Responder for the API updates and one Publisher for notifying the conversion services. In addition to this, the conversion services should be updated to include a Subscriber. Let’s see this in action.

Creating the arbitration service

A simple implementation of such a service would look like the following. First, we require cote and instantiate a responder for the API.


const cote = require('cote');

const responder = new cote.Responder({ name: 'arbitration API' });

Let’s say we keep the rates in a local variable. This could just as well be a database call, but for the sake of simplicity let’s keep this local.

const rates = {};

Now the responder shall respond to an update rate request, allowing admins to update it from a back office application. The backoffice integration isn’t important at this moment, but here is an example how back offices could interact with cote responders in the backend. Basically, this service should have a responder to take in the new rates for a currency exchange.

responder.on('update rate', (req, cb) => {
    rates[req.currencies] = req.rate; // { currencies: 'usd_eur', rate: 0.91 }

Creating a publisher

We now have the rates, but the rest of the system, namely, the conversion services aren’t aware of this change yet. In order to update them of the changes, we should create a Publisher.

const publisher = new cote.Publisher({ name: 'arbitration publisher' });

Now whenever there’s a new rate, we should utilize this Publisher. The update rate handler thus becomes:

responder.on('update rate', (req, cb) => {
    rates[req.currencies] = req.rate;

    publisher.publish('update rate', req);
Click to see the complete arbitration-service.js file.

```js const cote = require('cote'); const responder = new cote.Responder({ name: 'arbitration API' }); const publisher = new cote.Publisher({ name: 'arbitration publisher' }); const rates = {}; responder.on('update rate', (req, cb) => { rates[req.currencies] = req.rate; cb('OK!'); publisher.publish('update rate', req); }); ```

Since currently there are no subscribers in this system, nobody will be notified of these changes. In order to facilitate this update mechanism, we need to go back to our conversion-service.js and add a Subscriber to it.

Creating a subscriber

A Subscriber is a regular cote component, so we instantiate it with the following:

const subscriber = new cote.Subscriber({ name: 'arbitration subscriber' });

Put this line in conversion-service.js.

Subscriber also extends EventEmitter2, and although these services might run in machines that are continents apart, any published updates will end up in a Subscriber as an event for us to consume.

Here’s how we might update conversion-service.js to listen to updates from the arbitration service.

subscriber.on('update rate', (update) => {
    rates[update.currencies] = update.rate;

That’s it! From now on, this conversion service will synchronize with the arbitration service and receive its updates. The new conversion requests after an update will be done over the new rate.

Click to see the complete conversion-service.js file.

```js const cote = require('cote'); const responder = new cote.Responder({ name: 'currency conversion responder' }); const subscriber = new cote.Subscriber({ name: 'arbitration subscriber' }); const rates = { usd_eur: 0.91, eur_usd: 1.10 }; subscriber.on('update rate', (update) => { rates[update.currencies] = update.rate; }); responder.on('convert', (req, cb) => { cb(req.amount * rates[`${req.from}_${}`]); }); ```

Components Reference

cote hosts a number of components that together let you implement microservice communication. Below, you will find several examples on how to make use of each component.

By default, every component can discover and interact with every other component. This may not be desirable under certain conditions whereas security and network performance is of importance, so one can segregate or partition component clusters with keys and environments provided in configuration objects.

Also, all components support namespaces. Given as a property of the configuration object to the constructor, components adhere and act on namespaces if provided, and ignore other messages. Namespaces are also handy in that they let you wire a namespaced connection to the front-end. In other words, the namespaces here also serve as namespaces.


Requester queues requests until a Responder is available, and once so, it delivers the request. Requests will be dispatched to Responders in a round-robin way.


const cote = require('cote');

const randomRequester = new cote.Requester({
    name: 'Random Requester',
    // namespace: 'rnd',
    // key: 'a certain key',
    requests: ['randomRequest'],

setInterval(() => {
    const req = {
        type: 'randomRequest',
        val: Math.floor(Math.random() * 10),

    randomRequester.send(req, (res) => {
        console.log('request', req, 'answer', res);
}, 5000);

Requesters also support Promises, which gives you great flexibility when working with promise-based libraries or when you want to chain multiple Requesters and Responders.


const cote = require('cote');
const randomRequester = new cote.Requester({ name: 'Random Requester' });

const makeRequest = (req) => randomRequester.send(req);

const req = {
    type: 'randomRequest',
    val: Math.floor(Math.random() * 10),



Responder is a component for responding to certain requests from a Requester. It’s a descendant of EventEmitter2, and requests are regular events, therefore may be wildcarded or namespaced.

Responder may be used to add new modules to existing web servers / applications without ever changing the main server code. Only a Requester will be able to utilize a Responder.

You can use a Responder with a Sockend component to open a flexible API channel for the front-end. This greatly reduces time-to-market by providing a direct API for your front-end applications.


const cote = require('cote');

// Instantiate a new Responder component.
const randomResponder = new cote.Responder({
    name: 'Random Responder',
    // namespace: 'rnd',
    // key: 'a certain key',
    respondsTo: ['randomRequest'], // types of requests this responder
                                  // can respond to.

// request handlers are like any event handler.
randomResponder.on('randomRequest', (req, cb) => {
    const answer = Math.floor(Math.random() * 10);
    console.log('request', req.val, 'answering with', answer);

Responders also support Promises, , which gives you great flexibility when working with promise-based libraries or when you want to chain multiple Requesters and Responders.



const cote = require('cote');
const UserModel = require('UserModel'); // a promise-based model API such as
                                        // mongoose.

const userResponder = new cote.Responder({ name: 'User Responder' });

userResponder.on('find', (req) => UserModel.findOne(req.query));


const cote = require('cote');
const userRequester = new cote.Requester({ name: 'User Requester' });

    .send({ type: 'find', query: { username: 'foo' } })
    .then((user) => console.log(user))


Publisher is a component for publishing certain events with arbitrary data. It may be used as a distributed EventEmitter. It may also be used in a scenario where some components need to be notified of updates, such as new tweets, etc. instead of polling for them. Only a Subscriber will get notifications from a Publisher.

The messages Publishers publish are volatile in that if there are no Subscribers listening, they are lost.

Publishers may be used in conjunction with a Sockend component, in which case the front-end clients will be notified of the events published. This is a very cool real-time communication mechanism for your apps with no proprietary technology like Meteor.


const cote = require('cote');

// Instantiate a new Publisher component.
const randomPublisher = new cote.Publisher({
    name: 'Random Publisher',
    // namespace: 'rnd',
    // key: 'a certain key',
    broadcasts: ['randomUpdate'],

// Wait for the publisher to find an open port and listen on it.
setInterval(function() {
    const val = {
        val: Math.floor(Math.random() * 1000),

    console.log('emitting', val);

    // publish an event with arbitrary data at any time
    randomPublisher.publish('randomUpdate', val);
}, 3000);


Subscriber subscribes to events emitted from a Publisher.


const cote = require('cote');

const randomSubscriber = new cote.Subscriber({
    name: 'Random Subscriber',
    // namespace: 'rnd',
    // key: 'a certain key',
    subscribesTo: ['randomUpdate'],

randomSubscriber.on('randomUpdate', (req) => {
    console.log('notified of ', req);


Sockend is the glue for carrying all the possibilities of cote to the next level with WebSockets over Sockend makes Responders and Publishers available to the front-end and adhere to namespaces. It’s the magic and the lost link for microservices. Without any configuration, you can expose APIs directly to the front-end.



<script src="/"></script>
let socket = io.connect();
let socketNamespaced = io.connect('/rnd');

socket.on('randomUpdate', function(data) {

setInterval(function() {
    let req = {
        val: Math.floor(Math.random() * 10),

    let req2 = {
        val: Math.floor(Math.random() * 10),

    let req3 = {
        val: Math.floor(Math.random() * 10),

    let req4 = {
        val: Math.floor(Math.random() * 10),

    socket.emit('randomRequest', req, function(data) {
        console.log('normal', req.val, data);

    socketNamespaced.emit('randomRequest', req2, function(data) {
        console.log('ns', req2.val, data);

    socket.emit('promised request', req3, function(err, data) {
        console.log('normal promised', req3.val, err, data);

    socketNamespaced.emit('promised request', req4, function(err, data) {
        console.log('ns promised', req4.val, err, data);
}, 3000);


const cote = require('cote'),
    app = require('http').createServer(handler),
    io = require('').listen(app),
    fs = require('fs');

io.on('connection', (socket) => {

app.listen(process.argv[2] || 5555);

function handler(req, res) {
    fs.readFile(__dirname + '/index.html', (err, data) => {
        if (err) {
            return res.end('Error loading index.html');


const sockend = new cote.Sockend(io, {
    name: 'Sockend',
    // key: 'a certain key'

Now, fire up a few Responders and Publishers (from the examples folder) on default or ‘rnd’ namespace and watch them glow with magic on http://localhost:5555. Rooms

Sockend supports rooms. All you need to do is add a __rooms or __room attribute to the published message.

const randomPublisher = new cote.Publisher({
    name: 'Random Publisher',
    // namespace: 'rnd',
    // key: 'a certain key',
    broadcasts: ['randomUpdate'],

randomPublisher.publish('randomUpdate', { val: 500, __rooms: ['room1', 'room2'] });
randomPublisher.publish('randomUpdate', { val: 500, __room: 'room1' });


Monitor is the “top” of cote. It lists all the daemons it discovers regardless of namespace or key. Run examples/monitor.js and see all your active cote daemons.

Monitoring Tool

cote also has an infant of a monitoring tool that displays the cote ecosystem running in your environment in a nice graph. Run examples/monitoring-tool.js and navigate to http://localhost:5555 in your browser to see your cote network graph in action.

Advanced usage

While cote is extremely simple to get started, the requirements for a system running in production may demand further tweaking and advanced settings. Here are some of the advanced features of cote, which can be adjusted on several levels — as environment variables, as direct settings for the cote module when requiring it, or as direct settings for each component.

Until now, we only saw instantiating cote components with a single argument. In fact, all cote components have two constructor parameters. The first is used as the advertisement configuration which controls the data being advertised for auto-discovery. The second parameter is the discovery configuration and it controls the network-layer configuration and environments for components.

We’ll see more details in the following section.


cote works over IP broadcast or multicast. This means, for example, in an office network where there are several developers running a project based on cote in their local machines, there might be chaos. Components on a developer’s machine will discover other components on another developer’s machine. This probably is not a desired effect, and fortunately cote offers a way to combat this.

By passing in an environment property to the configuration object of a component, one can control the scope of auto-discovery for that particular component. Components that are not in the same environment will ignore each other. This effectively creates network partitions.

environments can be set as an environment variable COTE_ENV.

Running a service with

COTE_ENV=developer-1 node service.js

sets all the components within that service to use developer-1 as an environment. This makes sure that however many modules service.js makes use of, they all will share the same environment, so this is the safest way to specify environments.

The other way to specify an environment is using the configuration argument to cote, given when requiring cote in the first place. Since Node.js modules are read and executed once from the disk, you need to make sure to pass in the configuration at least once, during the first require call. The subsequent requires to cote will return the same module, which already has your configuration. If you have a bootstrap in your application that runs as the first thing in the application, it might be a good idea to put this config there.


const cote = require('cote')({ environment: 'developer-2' });

Now the components in these services won’t discover and communicate with each other.

Another place this comes handy is multiple environments running on a single machine. Say you have a machine for your QA needs, where you host several environments for different tests, e.g. integration and qa. Again, components from different environments would mix up. Using a parametric environment, in this case, solves this problem.


cote has another mechanism to create partitions called keys. Since every component discovers and tries to communicate with every other component on the horizon (this is called a “mesh network”), it might be desirable to tune the performance of an application by grouping certain components together over the use of a key.

In our experience, the best way to segregate services is to follow the principles of domain-driven design. In this regard, for example, each domain could have its own key.

keys are are also given as parameters to the configuration objects.

When deciding whether to create a connection to another service, cote components make use of keys and environments together. Therefore, two components with exact same environments with different keys wouldn’t be able to communicate.

Think of it as ${environment}_${key}.


const cote = require('cote');

const purchaseRequester = new cote.Requester({
    name: 'Purchase Requester',
    key: 'purchase',

const inventoryRequester = new cote.Requester({
    name: 'Inventory Requester',
    key: 'inventory',

Unlike environments, keys can’t be used as an environment variable or part of cote’s configuration, but rather, should be provided as part of the first argument to a component.


cote includes a Sockend component that provides a direct channel to the frontend. This is extremely powerful and with power, comes great responsibility. Exposing all the Responders and Publishers in the backend to your frontend application probably isn’t a good idea. Therefore cote offers namespaces, which map conveniently to namespaces.

To help increase the security of backend services, components with different namespaces won’t recognize each other and try to communicate. This effectively segregates the front-facing components. In order to allow a component to talk to the frontend, you should use a namespace which shields that service from the rest of the system. By incorporating multiple components in a single service, you can basically create proxies and let your front-facing components interact with the rest of the system in a secure way.



const cote = require('cote');

const responder = new cote.Responder({
    name: 'Conversion Sockend Responder',
    namespace: 'conversion',

const conversionRequester = new cote.Requester({
    name: 'Conversion Requester',
    key: 'conversion backend',

responder.on('convert', (req, cb) => {
    conversionRequester.send(req.type, req, cb); // proxy the request


const cote = require('cote');

const responder = new cote.Responder({
    name: 'Conversion Responder',
    key: 'conversion backend',

const rates = { usd_eur: 0.91, eur_usd: 1.10 };

responder.on('convert', (req, cb) => {
    cb(req.amount * rates[`${req.from}_${}`]);

Just like keys, namespaces can also only be utilized as part of the first argument to a component.

Multicast address

cote works either with IP multicast or IP broadcast, defaulting to broadcast. If you wish to use multicast instead, you can pass in a multicast property with the configuration object to cote. This will make sure that the discovery will happen only with the given configuration.

In fact, this is the best way to segregate services, not in the application layer but at the network layer. This will create the minimal number of gossip messages and the biggest gains in terms of performance. Therefore, using different multicast addresses is better than using different environments or keys.

Much like environments, multicast addresses can be specified either as an environment variable or as part of the main configuration object to the cote require’s. They can also be given as part of the second configuration object.


As an environment variable:


As part of cote’s module configuration:

const cote = require('cote')({ multicast: '' });

As part of each component’s discovery configuration:

const cote = require('cote');

const req = new cote.Requester({ name: 'req' }, { multicast: '' });

Broadcast address

While multicast is good for segmentation, certain scenarios may require the configuration be done over IP broadcast. In that case, broadcast address configuration helps. Much like multicast configuration, cote supports 3 different ways of supplying broadcast configuration.

Multicast configuration has precedence over broadcast. Therefore, when both configurations are applied, broadcast configuration will be ignored and multicast configuration will take over.

Also, cote uses broadcast by default. Hence, if no configuration is provided, the broadcast address will be set to If you want to use broadcast, but have a different broadcast IP, you should configure it as shown below.


As an environment variable:


As part of cote’s module configuration:

const cote = require('cote')({ broadcast: '' });

As part of each component’s discovery configuration:

const cote = require('cote');

const req = new cote.Requester({ name: 'req' }, { broadcast: '' });

Controlling cote with environment variables

Here’s a list of environment variables cote supports:

Variable name Description
COTE_ENV See Environments.
COTE_MULTICAST_ADDRESS See Multicast address.
COTE_BROADCAST_ADDRESS See Broadcast address.
DOCKERCLOUD_IP_ADDRESS Default broadcast address in Docker Cloud is Passing any value to this variable will change default broadcast value from to This setting shouldn’t be changed by users, but rather is there to make cote play extremely well with Docker Cloud.
COTE_USE_HOST_NAMES In certain, extremely rare conditions, auto-discovery might fail due to components reporting wrong IP addresses. If you find out that is the case, you can command cote to use the reported host names instead.
COTE_DISCOVERY_REDIS See Using centralized discovery tools.
COTE_DISCOVERY_REDIS_URL See Using centralized discovery tools.
COTE_DISCOVERY_REDIS_HOST See Using centralized discovery tools.

Deploying with Docker Cloud

cote plays extremely well with Docker Cloud. Even if your cloud provider doesn’t support IP broadcast or multicast, you can still have the same functionality with Docker Cloud’s Weave overlay networks.

Just deploy your cote applications just like any other Node.js application and even when your containers run in different machines on different continents, as long as they share an overlay network — which Docker Cloud assigns by default anyway — everything will work as expected.

Make sure to check out the e-commerce case study that implements a complete e-commerce application with microservices using cote. It features example Dockerfiles and docker-compose configurations in addition to Docker Cloud configurations.

It also has a Docker Swarm configuration to get you started on using cote with Docker Swarm, in any cloud environment.

Using centralized discovery tools

cote is built to be zero-configuration, and relies on IP broadcast/multicast to work. However, as of 2017, cloud providers don’t support this functionality out of the box. In these cases, one can use Docker Cloud and its Weave network integration. However, Docker Cloud may not be suitable for everyone, due to varying reasons.

Welcome redis

In these cases, in order to let cote work, we developed a plugin mechanism to accomodate different solutions that can serve as the automated service discovery tool. Currently, redis is supported out of the box, and cote makes use of the node_redis library, in case you want to use redis as the central discovery tool. If you need to use anything other than redis, please open a new issue and we may be able to help.

Configuring redis

cote aims to be as zero-conf as possible. Therefore, the discovery backend should be invisible to the developer. Since IP broadcast/multicast functionality is environment-specific, it makes sense to configure a centralized solution via environment variables as well. This way, the container deployment configurations such as Docker Swarm stack definitions can make use of the additional redis backend functionality, while developers can still use IP broadcast/multicast locally, with the same source code.

That’s why cote uses environment variables that start with COTE_DISCOVERY_REDIS. cote transforms any environment variable that starts with COTE_DISCOVERY_REDIS to proper configuration for the node_redis library. For example, COTE_DISCOVERY_REDIS_URL=redis becomes { url: 'redis' } and COTE_DISCOVERY_REDIS_HOST=redis COTE_DISCOVERY_REDIS_PORT=6379 becomes { host: 'redis', port: '6379' }.

Variable name Description
COTE_DISCOVERY_REDIS If you are running redis on localhost, setting this variable to true will use the locally available redis at port 6379. If you need any other redis URL or host, you don’t need to use this variable.
COTE_DISCOVERY_REDIS_URL Sets the redis connection URL. Has to start with either redis:// or //. Enables the redis plugin.
COTE_DISCOVERY_REDIS_HOST Sets the redis connection host name. Enables the redis plugin.
COTE_DISCOVERY_REDIS_PORT Sets the redis connection port. Enables the redis plugin.

cote also supports other connection options supported by node_redis in the same manner.


As an environment variable:

COTE_DISCOVERY_REDIS_HOST=redis node service.js

As part of cote’s module configuration:

const cote = require('cote')({ redis: { host: 'redis' } });

As part of each component’s discovery configuration:

const cote = require('cote');

const req = new cote.Requester({ name: 'req' }, { redis: { host: 'redis' } });


Is cote production-ready?

cote is battle-tested, solid and has been running in production across thousands of services since its inception in 2013. cote follows Semantic Versioning and although it’s production-ready, we haven’t released a version 1.0.0 yet. Although cote added many features in time, there hasn’t been a single breaking API change since the beginning, so we didn’t need to update the major version.

Usage with PM2

Make sure you don’t run any of your services in cluster mode. It messes up the service discovery since it tries to load balance the UDP ports used internally for this purpose.

Running with cloud providers (AWS, DigitalOcean, etc)

Most cloud providers block IP broadcast and multicast, therefore you can’t run cote in a multi-host environment without special software for an overlay network. For this purpose, Docker is the best tool. Deploy your application in Docker containers and you can take advantage of its overlay networks. cote works out of the box with Docker Cloud and users of Docker Swarm can make use of the Weave Net plugin. Weave also has an addon for enabling multicast/broadcast for Kubernetes.

If you find the solutions with Docker Swarm and Kubernetes to be hard to get started with, you can use redis as a centralized discovery tool. Check out Using centralized discovery tools to see how you can set up redis to work with cote.


cote is under constant development, and has several important issues still open. We would therefore heavily appreciate if you headed to the project to see where we are in the development, picked an issue of your taste and gave us a hand.

If you would like to see a feature implemented or want to contribute a new feature, you are welcome to open an issue to discuss it and we will be more than happy to help.

If you choose to make a contribution, please fork this repository, work on a feature and submit a pull request. cote is the next level of microservices — be part of the revolution.

MIT License

Copyright (c) 2013 Armagan Amcalar

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.