A service command typically needs to update the database and send messages/events. For example, a service that participates in a saga needs to atomically update the database and sends messages/events. Similarly, a service that publishes a domain event must atomically update an aggregate and publish an event.
A service must atomically update the database and send messages in order to avoid data inconsistencies and bugs. However, it is not viable to use a traditional distributed transaction (2PC) that spans the database and the message broker to atomically update the database and publish messages/events. The message broker might not support 2PC. And even if does, it’s often undesirable to couple the service to both the database and the message.
But without using 2PC, sending a message in the middle of a transaction is not reliable. There’s no guarantee that the transaction will commit. Similarly, if a service sends a message after committing the transaction there’s no guarantee that it won’t crash before sending the message.
In addition, messages must be sent to the message broker in the order they were sent by the service.
They must usually be delivered to each consumer in the same order although that’s outside the scope of this pattern.
For example, let’s suppose that an aggregate is updated by a series of transactions
This transactions might be performed by the same service instance or by different service instances.
Each transaction publishes a corresponding event:
T1 -> E1,
T2 -> E2, etc.
E1 must be published before
How to reliably/atomically update the database and send messages/events?
A service that uses a relational database inserts messages/events into an outbox table (e.g.
MESSAGE) as part of the local transaction.
An service that uses a NoSQL database appends the messages/events to attribute of the record (e.g. document or item) being updated.
A separate Message Relay process publishes the events inserted into database to a message broker.
This pattern has the following benefits:
This pattern has the following drawbacks:
This pattern also has the following issues:
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