Reliable Scheduled Jobs

A common variant of recursive jobs are "scheduled jobs", where the goal is for a job to repeat indefinitely with a fixed amount of time between executions. The part that makes it "reliable" is the guarantee that we'll keep retrying the job's business logic when the job retries, but we'll only schedule the next occurrence once. In order to achieve this guarantee we'll make use of the perform function to receive a complete Oban.Job struct.

Time for illustrative example!

Use Case: Delivering Daily Digest Emails

When a new user signs up to use our site we need to start sending them daily digest emails. We want to deliver the emails around the same time a user signed up every, repeating every 24 hours. It is important that we don't spam them with duplicate emails, so we ensure that the next email is only scheduled on our first attempt.

defmodule MyApp.Workers.ScheduledWorker do
  use Oban.Worker, queue: :scheduled, max_attempts: 10

  alias MyApp.Mailer

  @one_day 60 * 60 * 24

  @impl true
  def perform(%{args: %{"email" => email} = args, attempt: 1}) do
    |> new(schedule_in: @one_day)
    |> Oban.insert!()


  def perform(%{args: %{"email" => email}}) do

You'll notice that the first perform/1 clause only matches a job struct on the first attempt. When it matches, the first clause schedules the next iteration immediately, before attempting to deliver the email. Any subsequent retries fall through to the second perform/1 clause, which only attempts to deliver the email again. Combined, the clauses get us close to at-most-once semantics for scheduling, and at-least-once semantics for delivery.

More Flexible Than CRON Scheduling

Delivering around the same time using cron-style scheduling would need extra book-keeping to check when a user signed up, and then only deliver to those users that signed up within that window of time. The recursive scheduling approach is more accurate and entirely self contained—when and if the digest interval changes the scheduling will pick it up automatically once our code deploys.

An extensive discussion on the Oban issue tracker prompted this example along with the underlying feature that made it possible.