Decoupling applications with Domains Events

In the previous posts I have described 3 architectural patterns for business applications. Applying them to your software helps you decouple the business logic from the application/framework/UI. However given sufficient complexity, you will want to decouple different parts of your business model from each other as well.

As an example, lets think of a batch process in your application that updates orders from a CRM or logistics system:

  • You receive an XML with full users and order representations
  • You need to update certain user fields
  • You need to update certain order fields
  • Some orders require creating accounts in different remote systems
  • If the user has not confirmed his email yet he should receive an opt-in mail instead.
  • If the user confirms his opt-in mail, all outstanding remote accounts are created.

You can build all the steps into a single batch processing service. This will be a particularly huge service and in violation of the Single Responsibility principle.

the part with updating of users and fields has nothing to with the sending of mails and creation of remote accounts. We want to decouple them from each other.

The first obvious choice is to decouple them into distinct services:

  • Import Service
  • Authentication Service
  • Account Generation Service

All these services have dependencies on infrastructure objects, database, mailer and so on. We could inject the authentication and account generation services into the Import Service, but with rising complexity this will lead to a lasagna of services and the execution path will dig deep into this and this is not nearly as tasty as eating real lasagna.

ImportService
|_AuthenticationService
| |_Mailer
| |_Database
|_AccountGenerationService
| |_Database
| \_RemoteFacade
\_Database

This becomes more complicated when transaction semantics need to be taken care of. For example dependencies between mailer and database services. Also you have to take into account that the code in entities and value objects participating in this use-case.

What we want instead is a sequential execution of those nested services, but only if the parent service executed successfully:

ImportService
\_Database

AuthenticationService
|_Mailer
\_Database

AccountGenerationService
|_Database
\_RemoteFacade

We could use an event dispatcher in all of the services to notify each other, but the DomainEvent pattern does this more in a much cleaner way:

Every entity is an event provider and can emit events. Whenever a transaction is committed and an hence an operation is completed successfully, we take all the events emitted from all entities (looking at the identity map for example) and trigger observing event handlers. However if the operation fails, we do not trigger these event handlers.

<?php

class Order implements EventProviderInterface
{
    use EventProvider;

    public function importData(array $data)
    {
        // 1. do something with $data

        // 2. raise event
        $this->raise(new OrderImportCompleted(array(
            "id" => $this->id,
            "data" => $data
        )));
    }
}

interface EventProviderInterface
{
    public function dequeueEmittedEvents();
}

The Event provider trait aggregates all the events, and offers and API for external services to pull them from the entity:

<?php
trait EventProvider
{
    private $emittedEvents = array();

    protected function raise(DomainEvent Event)
    {
        $event->getMessageHeader()->setEntity($this);
        $this->emittedEvents[] = $event;
    }

    public function dequeueEmittedEvents()
    {
        $events = $this->emittedEvents;
        $this->emittedEvents = array();
        return $events;
    }
}

Our infrastructure must then trigger event handlers, based on the event names. It will use dequeueEmittedEvents and making sure the events are not emitted multiple times.

For reasons described below, we want the following command/event chain to happen in our system:

  • Command executes
  • Entities emit events
  • Command transaction succeeds
  • Events trigger event handlers
  • Event handlers execute more commands
  • Restart from 1.

With this approach we can decouple all services from each other and avoid deep nesting in each other. Yet we still have transactional dependencies, by dropping all events when the parent command fails. Transactions over multiple commands will not have ACID properties though, instead you will have to look into BASE transactions that are important in systems with eventual consistency. This is one downside that you need to take into account.

The Domain Event pattern is a prerequisite for full blown CQRS. My LiteCQRS library includes a simple implementation of DomainEvent and EventProvider classes and integration into Symfony and Doctrine ORM. Generally this pattern is very easy to implement though, so that you can just have a look at the implementation and take the best parts for your own.

More about: ApplicationDesign