kafka-python is best used with newer brokers (0.10 or 0.9), but is backwards-compatible with older versions (to 0.8.0). Some features will only be enabled on newer brokers, however; for example, fully coordinated consumer groups -- i.e., dynamic partition assignment to multiple consumers in the same group -- requires use of 0.9+ kafka brokers. Supporting this feature for earlier broker releases would require writing and maintaining custom leadership election and membership / health check code (perhaps using zookeeper or consul). For older brokers, you can achieve something similar by manually assigning different partitions to each consumer instance with config management tools like chef, ansible, etc. This approach will work fine, though it does not support rebalancing on failures. See <http://kafka-python.readthedocs.org/en/master/compatibility.html> for more details.
Please note that the master branch may contain unreleased features. For release documentation, please see readthedocs and/or python's inline help.
>>> pip install kafka-python
KafkaConsumer is a high-level message consumer, intended to operate as similarly as possible to the official java client. Full support for coordinated consumer groups requires use of kafka brokers that support the Group APIs: kafka v0.9+.
A secondary goal of kafka-python is to provide an easy-to-use protocol layer for interacting with kafka brokers via the python repl. This is useful for testing, probing, and general experimentation. The protocol support is leveraged to enable a KafkaClient.check_version() method that probes a kafka broker and attempts to identify which version it is running (0.8.0 to 0.10).