Saturday, May 24, 2014

CQRS without CQRS and RavenDB

Following on from my previous post about sonatribe, one of the hard decisions I had to make on this iteration was refactoring out the CQRS code  to simplify the dev cycle and improve velocity. I'm a big proponent of CQRS - it answers a lot of questions in traditional dev and while there is some upfront complexity it is far outweighed by the lack of accidental complexity apparent in traditional software projects.

One of my favorite features of a CQRS system is the denomalized rad layer - where the data stored in the read store maps directly to the DTO's coming out of the UI. When I refactored the code, I really wanted to be able to still get this sort of functionality. Denormalized read models have been around a long long time - SQL Server has "Views" where the developer can specify some SQL - normally making use of JOIN and UNION to present a readily available denormalized view over the data.

In RavenDb we can achieve this using TransformResults. In a document database you model your data differently - rather than joins and lookup tables you can store reference data inside the main document (aggregate root). A good rule of thumb being that if you ever need to load that part of the data alone, independent of other data, then that data is a document of it's own, with it's own ID. Documents can reference other documents however using the Denormalized Reference pattern ( Denormalized references can become a chore when the referenced data gets updated - in this case you will need to PATCH the documents to reflect any changes needed.

One of the cases where we have used TransformResults is to present the event profile (a festivals main page on the website) - in order to cut down requests to gather the data to present on this view (tags, images, users who are going, campsites, lineup info etc) we can aggregate all of that information in one TransformResult:

While this looks quite the beast - it's actually quite simple - we're pre-compiling all of the associated data for each event. This means we can pull all of the JSON needed for an event profile using a single call!

It's ridiculously simple and without cache turned on we can return from the REST API an event profile in less than 100 milliseconds - with cache turned on and tuned we can smash that right down - that kind of optimization comes much later however.

Now this isn't _really_ anything like CQRS - but it gives me a good-enough-for-now alternative. At some point I will be bringing CQRS back into sonatribe, this time round most likely using Greg Youngs GetEventStore ( - previously I used JOlivers EventStore and CommonDomain (which is used in Greg Young's implementation to my understanding). But for now I'm happy with this setup and it's simplicity.