Programming language: Go
Latest version: v1.4.0

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DynamoDB Lock Client for Go

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The dymanoDB Lock Client for Go is a general purpose distributed locking library built for DynamoDB. The dynamoDB Lock Client for Go supports both fine-grained and coarse-grained locking as the lock keys can be any arbitrary string, up to a certain length. Please create issues in the GitHub repository with questions, pull request are very much welcome.

It is a port in Go of Amazon's original dynamodb-lock-client.

Use cases

A common use case for this lock client is: let's say you have a distributed system that needs to periodically do work on a given campaign (or a given customer, or any other object) and you want to make sure that two boxes don't work on the same campaign/customer at the same time. An easy way to fix this is to write a system that takes a lock on a customer, but fine-grained locking is a tough problem. This library attempts to simplify this locking problem on top of DynamoDB.

Another use case is leader election. If you only want one host to be the leader, then this lock client is a great way to pick one. When the leader fails, it will fail over to another host within a customizable leaseDuration that you set.

Getting Started

To use the DynamoDB Lock Client for Go, you must make it sure it is present in $GOPATH or in your vendor directory.

$ go get -u cirello.io/dynamolock

This package has the go.mod file to be used with Go's module system. If you need to work on this package, use go mod edit -replace=cirello.io/dynamolock@yourlocalcopy.

Then, you need to set up a DynamoDB table that has a hash key on a key with the name key. For your convenience, there is a function in the package called CreateTable that you can use to set up your table, but it is also possible to set up the table in the AWS Console. The table should be created in advance, since it takes a couple minutes for DynamoDB to provision your table for you. The package level documentation comment has an example of how to use this package. Here is some example code to get you started:

package main

import (


func main() {
    svc := dynamodb.New(session.Must(session.NewSession(&aws.Config{
        Region: aws.String("us-west-2"),
    c, err := dynamolock.New(svc,
    if err != nil {
    defer c.Close()

    log.Println("ensuring table exists")
            ReadCapacityUnits:  aws.Int64(5),
            WriteCapacityUnits: aws.Int64(5),

    data := []byte("some content a")
    lockedItem, err := c.AcquireLock("spock",
    if err != nil {

    log.Println("lock content:", string(lockedItem.Data()))
    if got := string(lockedItem.Data()); string(data) != got {
        log.Println("losing information inside lock storage, wanted:", string(data), " got:", got)

    log.Println("cleaning lock")
    success, err := c.ReleaseLock(lockedItem)
    if !success {
        log.Fatal("lost lock before release")
    if err != nil {
        log.Fatal("error releasing lock:", err)

Selected Features

Send Automatic Heartbeats

When you create the lock client, you can specify WithHeartbeatPeriod(time.Duration) like in the above example, and it will spawn a background goroutine that continually updates the record version number on your locks to prevent them from expiring (it does this by calling the SendHeartbeat() method in the lock client.) This will ensure that as long as your application is running, your locks will not expire until you call ReleaseLock() or lockItem.Close()

Read the data in a lock without acquiring it

You can read the data in the lock without acquiring it, and find out who owns the lock. Here's how:

lock, err := lockClient.Get("kirk");

Logic to avoid problems with clock skew

The lock client never stores absolute times in DynamoDB -- only the relative "lease duration" time is stored in DynamoDB. The way locks are expired is that a call to acquireLock reads in the current lock, checks the RecordVersionNumber of the lock (which is a GUID) and starts a timer. If the lock still has the same GUID after the lease duration time has passed, the client will determine that the lock is stale and expire it.

What this means is that, even if two different machines disagree about what time it is, they will still avoid clobbering each other's locks.

Required DynamoDB Actions

For an IAM role to take full advantage of dynamolock, it must be allowed to perform all of the following actions on the DynamoDB table containing the locks:

  • GetItem
  • PutItem
  • UpdateItem
  • DeleteItem