The Dubbo framework offers custom, high-performance RPC communication protocols: the HTTP/2-based Triple protocol and the TCP-based Dubbo2 protocol. Additionally, Dubbo supports any third-party communication protocols, such as officially supported ones like gRPC, Thrift, REST, JsonRPC, Hessian2, and more. Further protocols can be implemented through custom extensions. This is particularly useful for handling multi-protocol communication scenarios, which are common in microservices practices.
The Dubbo framework is not tied to any specific communication protocol. In its implementation, Dubbo’s support for multiple protocols is highly flexible. It allows you to publish services that use different protocols within a single application. Furthermore, it supports exposing all protocols externally through the same port.
Through Dubbo framework’s support for multiple protocols, you can achieve:
- Seamlessly integrate any communication protocol into the Dubbo service governance system. All communication protocols under the Dubbo ecosystem can leverage Dubbo’s programming model, service discovery, and traffic control advantages. For instance, in the case of gRPC over Dubbo, both service governance and programming APIs can be seamlessly integrated into the Dubbo ecosystem at zero cost.
- Compatibility with different technology stacks, allowing for a mix of different service frameworks and RPC frameworks in a business system. For example, some services may be developed using gRPC or Spring Cloud, while others use the Dubbo framework. Through Dubbo’s support for multiple protocols, interoperability can be achieved seamlessly.
- Simplifying protocol migration. By coordinating multiple protocols with the registry center, you can quickly meet the company’s needs for protocol migration. For example, migrating from a proprietary protocol to the Dubbo protocol, upgrading the Dubbo protocol itself, migrating from the Dubbo protocol to gRPC, or transitioning from HTTP to the Dubbo protocol, and so on.
Triple protocol, introduced in Dubbo 3, is a communication protocol designed for the cloud-native era. It is based on HTTP/2 and fully compatible with the gRPC protocol. Triple natively supports streaming communication semantics. It can run on both HTTP/1 and HTTP/2 transport protocols, allowing you to directly access backend Dubbo services using tools like curl or a web browser.
Since the introduction of the Triple protocol, Dubbo also supports service definition and data transmission based on Protocol Buffers. However, Triple’s implementation is not bound to Interface Definition Language (IDL). For example, you can directly use Java Interface to define and publish Triple services. Triple possesses better gateway and proxy penetration capabilities, making it well-suited for deployment architectures involving cross-gateway and proxy communication, such as service meshes.
Key features of the Triple protocol include:
- Support for TLS encryption and plaintext data transmission
- Support for backpressure and flow control
- Support for streaming communication
- Simultaneous support for HTTP/1 and HTTP/2 transport protocols
In terms of programming and communication models, the Triple protocol supports the following modes:
- Client-side asynchronous request-response
- Server-side asynchronous request-response
- Client-side request streaming
- Server-side response streaming
- Bidirectional streaming communication
- For the usage of the Triple protocol, please refer to the Triple Protocol Development Tasks or the Java SDK Example Documentation.
- Triple Design Ideas and Protocol Specifications
The Dubbo2 protocol is an RPC communication protocol built on top of the TCP transport layer protocol. Due to its compact, flexible, and high-performance characteristics, it gained widespread use during the Dubbo2 era. It served as a key communication solution for enterprises to build high-performance, large-scale microservice clusters. In the cloud-native era, we recommend using the Triple protocol for its greater generality and better penetration.
The Dubbo2 protocol also has built-in support for HTTP, so you can use curl for quick service validation or debugging during development.
You can develop and manage microservices using Dubbo and then set up underlying communication using the gRPC protocol. But why do this instead of directly using the gRPC framework, and what advantages does it offer in comparison? The simple answer is that this is a common pattern for developing microservices using gRPC. Please read on for more details.
gRPC is Google’s open-source communication protocol based on HTTP/2. As we mentioned in our Product Comparison document, gRPC is positioned as a communication protocol and its implementation, making it a pure RPC framework. On the other hand, Dubbo is positioned as a microservices framework, providing solutions for microservices practices. Therefore, compared to Dubbo, gRPC lacks abstractions for microservices programming models, service governance, and other capabilities.
Using the gRPC protocol (gRPC over Dubbo Framework) within the Dubbo ecosystem is a highly efficient and lightweight choice. It allows you to use the native gRPC protocol for communication while avoiding the complexity of customizing and developing based on gRPC (customizing and developing with gRPC is an inevitable step in many enterprise-scale practices, and the Dubbo framework handles this for developers, enabling them to use gRPC in the simplest way possible).
A common communication pattern in the microservices domain is HTTP + JSON. This includes mainstream microservices frameworks like Spring Cloud and Microprofile, which default to using this communication pattern. Dubbo also provides support for programming and communication patterns based on HTTP.
Other Communication Protocols
In addition to the protocols mentioned above, you can also run the following protocols on top of Dubbo. For Dubbo, it only takes a simple configuration change to switch the underlying service communication protocol, without affecting other peripheral APIs and governance capabilities.
Interoperability in Heterogeneous Microservice Ecosystems
For practices related to protocol migration and coexistence of multi-protocol technology stacks, please refer to this blog post.
For the configuration and usage methods of the protocols mentioned above, including how to configure
single-port multi-protocol support, please refer to the following SDK documentation:
In addition to the communication protocols officially supported, Dubbo supports extending support for new protocols. For specific details, please refer to 【Task】-【Extensibility】-【Protocol】.