Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Event Sourced Aggregates Part 5: Anemic aggregate

In this 5th part in my series on event sourced aggregates I continue moving code out of the aggregate. In the last post I moved domain logic out of the aggregate and into the command handlers, making them smart enough to actually handle commands by themselves. In this post I will continue along the path of moving stuff out of the aggregate: I will move the remaining methods, namely the 'When' methods, out from the aggregate to a new abstraction - an aggregate projector. While this will achieve the goal set out in the first post of getting past the aggregate growing and growing over time, the new aggregate projector unfortunately will suffer from the same problem. In the next post I will take another approach moving the 'When' methods out and arrive at a better design, but first let's follow what I think is the most obvious path and see why that leads a bad design.

The aggregate is a projection

Taking a step back, what is the aggregate? At the datastore level it is a list of events. Together the events represent everything that has happened to the aggregate and, as we have seen, the current state of the aggregate can be recreated from the list of events. At the code level the aggregate is an object - it has some state and it has some behavior. At this point the only behavior it has left is the 'When' methods. The important bit is that the aggregate is an object. It's just an object. Likewise, in the code, different read models are just objects that result from projections over events. In that sense the aggregate is not different from a read model: It is an object that is the result of a projection over events.

Introducing the aggregate projector

Before I start refactoring lets take a look at how the aggregate looks right now:

The aggregate has some state represented by the properties on lines 3 and 4, and then some 'When' methods that make up the logic needed to perform the projection from the aggregates events to its current state.

Seeing that a new 'When' method will be added to the aggregate every time a new event is introduced - and new features will usually result in new events, in my experience - the aggregate still has the problem of growing big and unwieldy over time. So let's introduce another class that can do the projections:

This doesn't just work. First off the new 'UserAggregateProjector' cannot set the properties on the aggregate to anything. That can be fixed by adding internal setters to the aggregate, allowing the projector to access the setters, but disallowing access from outside the same project as the 'UserAggregate', which I expect to mean anything beyond commands, command handlers and events.
Furthermore the event replay done when fetching an aggregate must also change from calling 'When' methods on the aggregate to calling them on the 'UserAggregateProjector'. That means changing 'Aggregate' base class to this:

The changes are the introduction of the 'GetProjector' method on line 30 and the use of that new method in the 'Play' method, which now does reflection of the projector class to find the 'When' methods instead of doing it over the aggregate. The end result is the same: An aggregate object with the current state of the aggregate recreated by replaying all events.

Moving the 'When' methods has obviously also changed the aggregate, which now only contains state:

This is what is known as an anemic domain model, because it has no behavior. That's usually considered an anti-pattern, but I don't necessarily agree that it is; as argued above the aggregate is essentially a projection of the events, so I do not see why that object has to be where the domain behavior goes. As we saw in the 4th post of the series command handlers is a nice place to put domain behavior.

The projector violates Open/Closed principle

As a stated at the beginning of this post the design I've arrived at now is not good: The new 'UserAggregateProjector' suffers just as much from perpetual growth as the aggregate did before I moved the 'When' methods out of it. In other words the new projector violates the Open/Closed principle, which is what I am trying to get away from. So I have not solved anything, just moved the problem to a new abstraction :( Seems like I need to take another iteration, which I will in the next post.

The code for this post is in this branch.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Event Sourced Aggregates Part 4: Smart command handlers

In this fourth post in my series about event sourced aggregates I will continue work on the command handlers. In the 3rd post I did some cleaning up of the command handlers, cutting them down to very little code. In this post I will make the command handlers smart by moving domain logic from the aggregate to the command handlers.


In the first and second posts of the series I outlined a typical C# implementation of event sourced aggregates and how that style of implementation leads to ever growing aggregates - every added features adds (at least) two methods to the aggregate: 
  • One for the domain logic. E.g. a 'ChangeUsername' method, that has whatever business logic there is around changing the username. If and when these methods decide a change to the aggregate state is needed they emit a domain event.
  • A 'When' method for any new events. The `When` methods perform all state changes on the aggregate.
The patterns I see in the implementations I come across is that there is a one-to-one correspondence between commands, command handlers and public domain logic methods on the aggregate. For example the pattern is that for a 'ChangeUsernameCommand' there is a 'ChangeUsernameCommandHandler' class and a 'ChangeUsername' method on the aggregate. I took almost all the plumbing out of the command handler in the last post and essentially left it at this:

which invokes the 'helper.Handle' method to get all the plumbing done and then calls the 'ChangeUsername' method to get the domain logic done. So in essence the command handler just delegates to the aggregate, but isn't the responsibility of the command handler to ... handle the command? I think it is. And handling the command means running the domain logic, so let's move that logic from the aggregate to the command handler.

Smart command handlers

In the second post I introduced the 'ChangeUsernameCommand` and the associated command handler and methods on the aggregate. In particular this `ChangeUsername` method on the aggregate:

which implements the domain logic for changing username. That is the logic I want to move to the command handler.
Moving the domain logic straight over the command handler, changes the `Handle` method on the command handler to this:

Now the command handler contains the logic for handling the command. Note that now the command handler also emits domain events - on line 7. This makes sense since this is still event sourced, so changes to the aggregate state are still done through events. The rest of the mechanics around events remain unchanged: The `Emit` method on the base aggregate still calls the 'When' method for the event and stores the event to the list of new events on the aggregate. Saving the aggregate still means appending the list of new events to the event store, and getting the aggregate from the 'AggregateRepository' still means reading all the aggregates events from the event store and replaying each one.

Having moved the domain logic out of the aggregate I have a slimmer aggregate, that only has the state of the aggregate and the 'When' methods. In the next two post I slim down the aggregate even further by moving the 'When' methods out.

The complete code for this post in this branch.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Event Sourced Aggregates Part 3: Clean up command handlers

This is the 3rd part of my series about event sourced aggregates. In the first post I outlined a typical implementation of event sourced aggregates, and in the second post I showed how that implementation leads to aggregates that grow bigger and bigger as features are added to the system. In this post I will clean up the command handlers from the previous post by moving some repeated code out them to a new abstraction. In the coming posts I will refactor between the command handlers, aggregates and event handlers to arrive at a design where the aggregate does not grow.

Repeated code in command handlers

In the last post we looked briefly at this implementation of a command handler:

Looking at the above the code at line 20 is - in a sense - where the ChangeUsernameCommand the is handled, because that is the only line that is about changing a username. All the other code in the command handler is about infrastructure; loading the aggregate, saving the aggregate and dispatching events. Moreover the code for loading and saving aggregates as well as the code for dispatching will be repeated in every command handler

Introducing a helper

To get past that repetitiveness and to cut back on the amount of infrastructure code in the command handler, we introduce this helper, where the loading of the aggregate, the saving of the aggregate and the dispatching of events is done:

The idea behind the CommandHandlerHelper is that the concrete command handler calls the Handle method with a handlerFunc, that does the business logic bit of the command handler. The handlerFunc is called at line 18, so the helper makes sure the infrastructure code is done in right order in relation to the business logic.

Cleaner command handlers

With the CommandHandlerHelper in place the ChangeUsernameCommand can be rewritten to use it like this:

This is a good deal simpler than the command handler code at the start of the post.

That's it for now. With this clean up in place we set for the next steps: