This document describes an older version of Celery (2.5). For the latest stable version please go here.

Creating Tasks

Ensuring a task is only executed one at a time

You can accomplish this by using a lock.

In this example we’ll be using the cache framework to set a lock that is accessible for all workers.

It’s part of an imaginary RSS feed importer called djangofeeds. The task takes a feed URL as a single argument, and imports that feed into a Django model called Feed. We ensure that it’s not possible for two or more workers to import the same feed at the same time by setting a cache key consisting of the MD5 checksum of the feed URL.

The cache key expires after some time in case something unexpected happens (you never know, right?)

from celery.task import Task
from django.core.cache import cache
from django.utils.hashcompat import md5_constructor as md5
from djangofeeds.models import Feed

LOCK_EXPIRE = 60 * 5 # Lock expires in 5 minutes

class FeedImporter(Task):
    name = "feed.import"

    def run(self, feed_url, **kwargs):
        logger = self.get_logger(**kwargs)

        # The cache key consists of the task name and the MD5 digest
        # of the feed URL.
        feed_url_digest = md5(feed_url).hexdigest()
        lock_id = "%s-lock-%s" % (, feed_url_hexdigest)

        # cache.add fails if if the key already exists
        acquire_lock = lambda: cache.add(lock_id, "true", LOCK_EXPIRE)
        # memcache delete is very slow, but we have to use it to take
        # advantage of using add() for atomic locking
        release_lock = lambda: cache.delete(lock_id)

        logger.debug("Importing feed: %s" % feed_url)
        if acquire_lock():
                feed = Feed.objects.import_feed(feed_url)
            return feed.url

            "Feed %s is already being imported by another worker" % (

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