Announcing Franz

I've been using Apache Kafka for about a year now and I've wanted a desktop client from the beginning. I couldn't find one I liked -- the best I've found is Confluent's Cloud UI, but that's neither a desktop app, nor is it a great experience1 -- so, a couple months ago I started building a native macOS GUI for Kafka in my spare time and, today, I'm proud to announce the first beta release of Franz.

This release covers all the basic functionality you might expect: you can manage topics and consumer groups, publish & consume records, and even hook in and script part of the consumption process. So, if that sounds appealing to you, please give it a try and let me know what you think. I've had tons of fun working on this so far and I'd love to make it even better.

In terms of tech, obviously, the sane approach would've been to make a straight Swift app and embed librdkafka and I'd be off to the races. But, that wouldn't be very fun. So, instead, Franz is a Swift app backed by Racket (via the same approach described in Screencast: SwiftUI + Racket, though with many improvements to the process since I recorded that video -- expect an updated screencast sometime soon!), where the underlying Kafka client is the same one I've been working on off-and-on since the beginning of the year. The aforementioned scripting support is provided by racket-lua, which I announced last week.

I've found this approach2 to building apps to be hugely productive (and damn fun!). I get to alternate between quickly bashing out core functionality in Racket, interacting with said code at the racket-mode REPL, and switching to Swift where I can bang out whatever GUI idea comes to mind pretty quickly at this point. It all makes for some very productive moments, even when those moments are relatively few and far-between (I have a dayjob so this was all done during my free time and mostly during weekends).

  1. Unless you love being unconditionally logged out once an hour for some reason.

  2. I've used a similar approach to ship an app on the Mac App Store a couple years ago.