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Archive for the ‘NHibernate’ Category

Progressive .NET Wrap-up

Monday, September 7th, 2009

So, I’ve gotten back from a most enjoyable couple of days in Sweden where I gave two half-day tutorials, the first being the SOA and UI composition talk I gave at the European Virtual ALT.NET meeting (which you can find online here) and the other on DDD in enterprise apps (the first time I’ve done this talk).

I’ve gotten some questions about my DDD presentation there based on Aaron Jensen’s pictures:


Yes – I talk with my hands. All the time.

That slide is quite an important one – I talked about it for at least 2 hours.

Here it is again, this time in full:


You may notice that the nice clean layered abstraction that the industry has gotten so comfortable with doesn’t quite sit right when looking at it from this perspective. The reason for that is that this perspective takes into account physical distribution while layers don’t.

I’ll have some more posts on this topic as well as giving a session in TechEd Europe this November.

Oh – and please do feel free to already send your questions in.

Don’t Create Aggregate Roots

Monday, June 29th, 2009


My previous post on Domain Events left some questions about how aggregate roots should be created unanswered. It would actually be more accurate to say how aggregate roots should *not* be created. It turns out that this is one of the less intuitive parts of domain-driven design and has been the source of many arguments on the matter. Let’s start with the wrong way:

   1:  using (ISession s = sf.OpenSession())
   2:  using (ITransaction tx = s.BeginTransaction())
   3:  {
   4:      Customer c = new Customer();
   5:      c.Name = "udi dahan";
   7:      s.Save(c);
   8:      tx.Commit();
   9:  }

I understand that the code above is representative of how much code is written when using an object-relational mapper. Many would consider this code to follow DDD principles – that Customer is an aggregate root. Unfortunately – that is not the case. The code above is missing the real aggregate root.

There’s also the inevitable question of validation – if the customer object isn’t willing to accept a name with a space in it, should we throw an exception? That would prevent an invalid entity from being saved, which is good. On the other hand, exceptions should be reserved for truly exceptional occurrences. But if we don’t use exceptions, using Domain Events instead, how do we prevent the invalid entity from being saved?

All of these issues are handled auto-magically once we have a true aggregate root.

Always Get An Entity

Let’s start with the technical guidance – always get an entity. At least one. Also, don’t add any objects to the session or unit of work explicitly – rather, have some other already persistent domain entity create the new entity and add it to a collection property.

Looking at the code above, we see that we’re not following the technical guidance.

But the question is, which entity could we possibly get from the database in this case? All we’re doing is adding a customer.

And that’s exactly where the technical guidance leads us to the business analysis that was missing in this scenario…

Business Analysis

Customers don’t just appear out of thin air.

Blindingly obvious – isn’t it.

So why would we technically model our system as if they did? My guess is that we never really thought about it – it wasn’t our job. So here’s the breaking news – if we want to successfully apply DDD we do need to think about it, it is our job.

Going back to the critical business question:

Where do customers come from?

In the real world, they stroll into the store. In our overused e-commerce example, they navigate to our website. New customers that haven’t used our site before don’t have any cookies or anything we can identify them with. They navigate around, browsing, maybe buying something in the end, maybe not.

Yet, the browsing process is interesting in its own right:

  • Which products did they look at?
  • Did they use the search feature?
  • How long did they spend on each page?
  • Did they scroll down to see the reviews?

If and when they do finally buy something, all that history is important and we’d like to maintain a connection to it.

Actually, even before they buy something, what they put in their cart is the interesting piece. The transition from cart to checkout is another interesting piece. Do they actually complete the checkout process, or do they abandon it midway through?

Add to that when we ask/force them to create a user/login in our system.

Are they actually a customer if they haven’t bought anything?

We’re beginning to get an inkling that almost every activity that results in the creation of an entity or storing of additional information can be traced to a transition from a previous business state.

In any transition, the previous state is the aggregate root.

In the beginning…

Let’s start at the very beginning then – someone came to our site. Either they navigated here from some other web page, they clicked on an email link someone sent them, or they typed in our URL. This can be designed as follows:

   1:  using (ISession s = sf.OpenSession())
   2:  using (ITransaction tx = s.BeginTransaction())
   3:  {
   4:     var referrer = s.Get<Referrer>(msg.URL);
   5:     referrer.BroughtVisitorWithIp(msg.IpAddress);
   7:     tx.Commit();
   8:  }

And our referrer code could look something like this:

   1:  public void BroughtVisitorWithIp(string ipAddress)
   2:  {
   3:     var visitor = new Visitor(ipAddress);
   4:     this.NewVisitors.Add(visitor);
   5:  }

This follows the technical guidance we saw at the beginning.

It also allows us to track which referrer is bringing us which visitors, through tracking those visitors as they become shoppers (by putting stuff in their cart), finally seeing which become customers.

We can solve the situation of not having a referrer by implementing the null object pattern which is well supported by all the standard object-relational mappers these days.

How it works internally

When we call a method on a persistent entity retrieved by the object-relational mapper, and the entity modifies its state like when it adds a new entity to one of its collection properties, when the transaction commits, here’s what happens:

The mapper sees that the persistent entity is dirty, specifically, that its collection property was modified, and notices that there is an object in there that isn’t persistent. At that point, the mapper knows to persist the new entity without us ever having to explicitly tell it to do so. This is sometimes known as “persistence by reachability”.

Where validation happens

Let’s consider the relatively trivial rule that says that a user name can’t contain a space.

Also, keep in mind that a registered user is the result of a transition from a visitor.

Here’s *one* way of doing that:

   1:  public class Visitor
   2:  {
   3:     public void Register(string username, string password)
   4:     {
   5:        if (username.Contains(" "))
   6:        {
   7:           DomainEvents.Raise<UsernameCantContainSpace>();
   8:           return;
   9:        }
  11:        var user = new User(username, password);
  12:        this.RegisteredUser = u;
  13:     }
  14:  }

This actually isn’t representative of most of the rules that will be found in the domain model, but it illustrates a way of preventing an entity from being created without our service layer needing to know anything. All the service layer does is get the visitor object and call the Register method.

Validation of string lengths, data ranges, etc is not domain logic and is best handled elsewhere (and a topic for a different post). The same goes for uniqueness.


The most important thing to keep in mind is that if your service layer is newing up some entity and saving it – that entity isn’t an aggregate root *in that use case*. As we saw above, in the original creation of the Visitor entity by the Referrer, the visitor class wasn’t the aggregate root. Yet, in the user registration use case, the Visitor entity was the aggregate root.

Aggregate roots aren’t a structural property of the domain model.

And in any case, don’t go saving entities in your service layer – let the domain model manage its own state. The domain model doesn’t need any references to repositories, services, units of work, or anything else to manage its state.

If you do all this, you’ll also be able to harness the technique of fetching strategies to get the best performance out of your domain model by representing your use cases as interfaces on the domain model like IRegisterUsers (implemented by Visitor) and IBringVisitors (implemented by Referrer).

And spending some time on business analysis doesn’t hurt either – unless customers really do fall out of the sky in your world 🙂

DDD & Many to Many Object Relational Mapping

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

many to many The ability to map entity relationships is broadly supported by many O/RM tools. For some reason, though, many developers run into issues when trying to map a many-to-many relationship between entities. Although much has already been written about the technological aspects of it, I thought I’d take more of an architectural / DDD perspective on it here.

Value Objects Don’t Count

While the canonical example presented is Customer -> Address, and has a good treatment here for nHibernate, it isn’t architecturally representative.

Addresses are value objects. What this means is that if we have to instance of the Address class, and they both have the same business data, they are semantically equivalent. Customers, on the other had, are not value objects – they’re entities. If we have two customers with the same business data (both of them called Bob Smith), that does not mean they are semantically equivalent – they are not the same person.

All Entities

Therefore, for our purposes here we’ll use something different. Say we have an entity called Job which is something that a company wants to hire for. It has a title, description, skill level, and a bunch of other data. Say we also have another entity called Job Board which is where the company posts jobs so that applicants can see them, like Monster.com. A job board has a name, description, web site, referral fee, and a bunch of other data.

A job can be posted to multiple job boards. And a job board can have multiple jobs posted. A regular many to many relationship. At this point, we’re not even going to complicate the association.

This is simply represented in the DB with an association table containing two columns for each of the entity tables’ ids.

In the domain model, developers can also represent this with the Job class containing a list of JobBoard instances, and the JobBoard class containing a list of jobs.

It’s intuitive. Simple. Easy to implement. And wrong.

In order to make intelligent DDD choices, we’re going to first take what may seem to be a tangential course, but I assure you that your aggregate roots depend on it.

Moving forward with our example

Let’s say the user picks a job, and then ticks off the job boards where they want the job posted, and clicks submit.

For simplicity’s sake, at this point, let’s ignore the communication with the actual job sites, assuming that if we can get the association into the DB, magic will happen later causing the job to appear on all the sites.

Our well-intentioned developer takes the job ID, and all the job board IDs, opens a transaction, gets the job object, gets the job board objects, adds all the job board objects to the job, and commits, as follows:

   1:          public void PostJobToBoards(Guid jobId, params Guid[] boardIds)
   2:          {
   3:              using (ISession s = this.SessionFactory.OpenSession())
   4:              using (ITransaction tx = s.BeginTransaction())
   5:              {
   6:                  var job = s.Get<Job>(jobId);
   7:                  var boards = new List<JobBoard>();
   9:                  foreach(Guid id in boardIds)
  10:                      boards.Add(s.Get<JobBoard>(id));
  12:                  job.PostTo(boards);
  14:                  tx.Commit();
  15:              }
  16:          }

In this code, Job is our aggregate root. You can see that is the case since Job is the entry point that the service layer code uses to interact with the domain model. Soon we’ll see why this is wrong.

** Notice that in this service layer code, our well-intentioned developer is following the rule that while you can get as many objects as you like, you are only allowed one method call on one domain object. The code called in line 12 is what you’d pretty much expect:

   1:          public void PostTo(IList<JobBoard> boards)
   2:          {
   3:              foreach(JobBoard jb in boards)
   4:              {
   5:                  this.JobBoards.Add(jb);
   6:                  jb.Jobs.Add(this);
   7:              }
   8:          }

Only that as we were committing, someone deleted one of the job boards just then. Or that someone updated the job board causing a concurrency conflict. Or anything that would cause one single association to not be created.

That would cause the whole transaction to fail and all changes to roll back.

Rightly so, thinks our well-intentioned developer.

But users don’t think like well-intentioned developers.

Partial Failures

If I were to go to the grocery store with the list my wife gave me, finding that they’re out of hazelnuts (the last item on the list), would NOT buy all the other groceries and go home empty handed, what do you think would happen?

Right. That’s how users look at us developers. Before running off and writing a bunch of code, we need to understand the business semantics of users actions, including asking about partial failures.

The list isn’t a unit of work that needs to succeed or rollback atomically. It’s actually many units of work. I mean, I wouldn’t want my wife to send me to the store 10 times to buy 10 items, so the list is really just a kind of user shortcut. Therefore, in the job board scenario, each job to job board connection is its own transaction.

This is more common than you might think.

Once you go looking for cases where the domain is forgiving of partial failures, you may start seeing more and more of them.

Aggregate Roots

In the original transaction where we tried to connect many job boards to a single job, we saw that the single job is the aggregate root. However, once we have multiple transactions, each connecting one job and one job board, the job board is just as likely an aggregate root as the job.

We can do   jobBoard.Post(job);    or     job.PostTo(jobBoard);

But we need just a bit more analysis to come to the right decision.

While we could just leave the bi-directional/circular dependency between them, it would be preferable if we could make it uni-directional instead. To do that, we need to understand their relationship:

If there was no such thing as “job”, would there be meaning to “job board” ? Probably not.

If there was no such thing as “job board”, would there be meaning to “job” ? Probably. Yes. Our company can handle the hiring process of a job regardless of whether the candidate came in through Monster.com or not.

From this we understand that the uni-directional relationship can be modelled as one-to-many from job board to job. The Job class would no longer have a collection of Job Board objects. In fact, it could even be in an assembly separate from Job Board and not reference Job Board in any way. Job Board, on the other hand, would still have a collection of Job objects.

Going back to the code above we see that the right choice is   jobBoard.Post(job);   

Job Board is the aggregate root in this case. Also, the many-to-many mapping has now dissolved, leaving behind a single one-to-many mapping.

Let that sink in a second.

But Wait…

While the GUI showing which jobs are posted on a given job board are well served by the above decision (simply traversing the object graph from Job Board to its collection of Jobs), that’s not the whole story. Another GUI needs to show administrative users which Job Boards a given Job has been posted to. Since we no longer have the domain-level connection, we can’t traverse myJob.JobBoards.

Our only option is to perform a query. That’s not so bad, but not as pretty as object traversal.

The real benefit is in chopping apart the Gordian M-to-N mapping knot and getting a cleaner, more well factored domain model.

That gives us much greater leverage for bigger, system-level decomposition.

We’re now all set to move up to a pub/sub solution between these aggregate roots, effectively upgrading them to Bounded Contexts. From there, we can move to full-blown internet-scale caching with REST for extra scalability on showing a job board with all its jobs.

In Closing

We often look at many-to-many relationships just like any other relationship. And from a purely technical perspective, we’re not wrong. However, the business reality around these relationships is often very different – forgiving of partial failures, to the point of actually requiring them.

Since the business folks who provide us with requirements rarely think of failure scenarios, they don’t specify that “between these two entities here, I don’t want transactional atomicity” (rolling our technical eyes – the idiots [sarcasm, just to make sure you don’t misread me]).

Yet, if we were to spell out what the system will do under failure conditions when transactionally atomic, those same business folks will be rolling our eyes back to us.

What I’ve found surprises some DDD practitioners is how critical this issue really is to arriving at the correct aggregate roots and bounded contexts.

It’s also simple, and practical, so you won’t be offending the YAGNI police.

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Fetching Strategy NHibernate Implementation Available

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

A couple of months ago I put out a post discussing one way to implement custom fetching strategies. Anyway, I finally got around to putting my money where my mouth was…

So, I’ve implemented the pattern in NHibernate, adding the following method to ISession:

T Create<T>();

As well as adding the following interface to the NHibernate package:

public interface IFetchingStrategy<T>
ICriteria AddFetchJoinTo(ICriteria criteria);

All this enables you to have a stronger separation between your service layer classes and your domain model class, as well as for you to express each service-level use case as a domain concept – an interface.

Once you have such an interface, you can create a fetching strategy for that use case and define exactly how deep of an object graph you want to load so that you only hit the DB once for that use case.

The nice thing is that its all configured with Spring. In other words, if you the entry for your fetching strategy class exists, you get the improved performance, if it doesn’t, you don’t. All without touching your service layer classes.

Just as an example, when I’m in the use case modeled by “ICustomer”, I want to get all the customer’s orders, and their orderlines. This would be done by having a class like this:

public class CustomerFetchingStrategy : IFetchingStrategy<ICustomer>
public ICriteria AddFetchJoinTo(ICriteria criteria)
criteria.SetFetchMode(“orders”, FetchMode.Eager).
SetFetchMode(“orders.orderLines”, FetchMode.Eager);

return criteria;

And the configuration would look like this (as a part of the regular spring template):

<object id=”CustomerFetchingStrategy” type=”Domain.Persistence.CustomerFetchingStrategy, Domain.Persistence” />

If you want to take a look at the full solution, you can find it here. For some reason, the combined file was too big for the upload on my blog so it’s split into two. Unzip both packages into the same directory. You’ll find a file called “db_scripts.sql” which contains the schema for the DB. Don’t forget to update your connection string in the “hibernate.cfg.xml”. If you’re looking for the changes I made to the NHibernate source, you can find it in the “Updated NHibernate Files” directory. The only real change is to the “SessionImpl.cs” file.

Relevant NHibernate and Spring binaries.

Source code of example.

BTW, there is some intelligent thread-safe caching going on in SessionImpl now so that you get a much smaller performance hit (in terms of code that uses reflection) on subsequent usages of the same interfaces.

Let me know what you think.

Performant and Explicit Domain Models

Monday, June 4th, 2007

Some Technical Difficulties

Ayende and I had an email conversation that started with me asking what would happen if I added an Order to a Customer’s “Orders” collection, when that collection was lazy loaded. My question was whether the addition of an element would result in NHibernate hitting the database to fill that collection. His answer was a simple “yes”. In the case where a customer can have many (millions) of Orders, that’s just not a feasible solution. The technical solution was simple – just define the Orders collection on the Customer as “inverse=true”, and then to save a new Order, just write:

session.Save( new Order(myCustomer) );

Although it works, it’s not “DDD compliant” 🙂

In Ayende’s post Architecting for Performance he quoted a part of our email conversation. The conclusion I reached was that in order to design performant domain models, you need to know the kinds of data volumes you’re dealing with. It affects both internals and the API of the model – when can you assume cascade, and when not. It’s important to make these kinds of things explicit in the Domain Model’s API.

How do you make “transparent persistence” explicit?

The problem occurs around “transparent persistence”. If we were to assume that the Customer object added the Order object to its Orders collection, then we wouldn’t have to explicitly save orders it creates, so we would write service layer code like this:

using (IDBScope scope = this.DbServices.GetScope(TransactionOption.On))
IOrderCreatingCustomer c = this.DbServices.Get<IOrderCreatingCustomer>(msg.CustomerId);


On the other hand, if we designed our Domain Model around the million orders constraint, we would need to explicitly save the order, so we would write service layer code like this:

using (IDBScope scope = this.DbServices.GetScope(TransactionOption.On))
IOrderCreatingCustomer c = this.DbServices.Get<IOrderCreatingCustomer>(msg.CustomerId);
IOrder o = c.CreateOrder(message.OrderAmount);


But the question remains, how do we communicate these guidelines to service layer developers from the Domain Model? There are a number of ways, but it’s important to decide on one and use it consistently. Performance and correctness require it.

Solution 1: Explicitness via Return Type

The first way is a little subtle, but you can do it with the return type of the “CreateOrder” method call. In the case where the Domain Model wishes to communicate that it handles transparent persistence by itself, have the method return “void”. Where the Domain Model wishes to communicate that it will not handle transparent persistence, have the method return the Order object created.

Another way to communicate the fact that an Order has been created that needs to be saved is with events. There are two sub-ways to do so:

Solution 2: Explicitness via Events on Domain Objects

The first is to just define the event on the customer object and have the service layer subscribe to it. It’s pretty clear that when the service layer receives a “OrderCreatedThatRequiresSaving” event, it should save the order passed in the event arguments.

The second realizes that the call to the customer object may come from some other domain object and that the service layer doesn’t necessarily know what can happen as the result of calling some method on the aggregate root. The change of state as the result of that method call may permeate the entire object graph. If each object in the graph raises its own events, its calling object will have to propagate that event to its parent – resulting in defining the same events in multiple places, and each object being aware of all things possible with its great-grandchild objects. That is clearly bad.

What [ThreadStatic] is for

So, the solution is to use thread-static events.

[Sidebar] Thread-static events are just static events defined on a static class, where each event has the ThreadStaticAttribute applied to it. This attribute is important for server-side scenarios where multiple threads will be running through the Domain Model at the same time. The easiest thread-safe way to use static data is to apply the ThreadStaticAttribute.

Solution 3: Explicitness via Static Events

Each object raises the appropriate static event according to its logic. In our example, Customer would call:


And the service layer would write:

DomainModelEvents.OrderCreatedThatRequiresSaving +=
delegate(object sender, OrderEventArgs e) { this.DbServices.Save(e.Order); };

The advantage of this solution is that it requires minimal knowledge of the Domain Model for the Service Layer to correctly work with it. It also communicates that anything that doesn’t raise an event will be persisted transparently behind the appropriate root object.

Statics and Testability

I know that many of you are wondering if I am really advocating the use of statics. The problem with most static classes is that they hurt testability because they are difficult to mock out. Often statics are used as Facades to hide some technological implementation detail. In this case, the static class is an inherent part of the Domain Model and does not serve as a Facade for anything.

When it comes to testing the Domain Model, we don’t have to mock anything out since the Domain Model is independent of all other concerns. This leaves us with unit testing at the single Domain Class level, which is pretty useless unless we’re TDD-ing the design of the Domain Model, in which case we’ll still be fiddling around with a bunch of classes at a time. Domain Models are best tested using State-Based Testing; get the objects into a given state, call a method on one of them, assert the resulting state. The static events don’t impede that kind of testing at all.

What if we used Injection instead of Statics?

Also, you’ll find that each Service Layer class will need to subscribe to all the Domain Model’s events, something that is easily handled by a base class. I will state that I have tried doing this without a static class, and injecting that singleton object into the Service Layer classes, and in that setter having them subscribe to its events. This was also pulled into a base class. The main difference was that the Dependency Injection solution required injecting that object into Domain Objects as well. Personally, I’m against injection for domain objects. So all in all, the static solution comes with less overhead than that based on injection.


In summary, beyond the “technical basics” of being aware of your data volumes and designing your Domain Model to handle each use case performantly, I’ve found these techniques useful for designing its API as well as communicating my intent around persistence transparency. So give it a try. I’d be grateful to hear your thoughts on the matter as well as what else you’ve found that works.

Related posts:

NHibernate will rule, because Ayende already does

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

First I find out that NHibernate does support “Persistence by Reachability”, even though the docs say it doesn’t. Next, Ayende makes it support multiple queries in a single DB roundtrip, something I’ve been asking all the other O/R mappers out there to do. To top it off, he’s got his sights set on solving the issues I raised in my talk on Complex Business Logic with DDD and O/R Mapping at DevTeach. That’s right, he’s going to give me my decorators and state machines.

I love you, Oren.

I know that the ADO.NET Entity Framework guys are open to this as well, but I’m pretty sure that the “Entity Model” thinking will hold them back. You just can’t divorce data and behavior – not when employing state machines or decorators.

I’m sold.

Fetching Strategy Design

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

Following up on my previous post on Better Domain-Driven Design Implementation, I wanted to show some more detail on how this actually works. There are two main concepts here.

The first is that of keeping Service Layer classes independent of Domain Model classes. The reason this is desirable is that the two families change on independent axis. Service Layer classes are affected by changes to the service’s external interface, as well as the interfaces of other services it depends on. Domain Model classes change to support changing business rules internal to the service. The solution is quite simply to introduce a set of interfaces between the two.

The second is tied to performance. When retrieving data from the database, we’d like to cross the wire only once bringing with us all the data we need in order to perform the work required. Lazy loading helps us in one way while hurting us in another. For connected objects that we don’t need when retrieving our target object, lazy loading prevents them from being loaded. However, for connected objects that we do need, lazy loading will cause us to return to the database to retrieve each of those objects in turn (sets of the same kind of object are still one DB call). If those objects need to be traversed as well in order to retrieve other objects, we can see that one simple request can cause many (MANY!) calls to the DB. These problems of latency and throughput are solved by eagerly (in one DB call) fetching and loading all the objects we need.

Here’s the package diagram for the solution so that we’ll have a reference for the following discussion.

fetching strategy package diagram - opens in a new window

Now, the class that is best suited to issue this call to eagerly load all objects is the service layer class, since it is aware of what specific use case we’re in. However, the service layer class does not necessarily know exactly what classes will be used in the domain to handle that request. Obviously, this set of classes may change as the domain model and the database schema change. We can therefore say that is not the service layer class’ responsibility to handle the definition of which classes need to be loaded. Only the Domain Model has that knowledge. So we need some way to pass the knowledge of the request type into the Domain Model.

In Object/Role Modeling terms, we represent that request type as a role. And roles are represented by interfaces. So we create an interface in the Domain Model which represents the request type. That interface will most likely contain only one method – the method which the service layer class will call.

After we have the first role, we can build other things around it, like fetching strategies. We can then define other classes who fullfil the role of “I’m his fetching strategy”. Those classes will expose a property defining the exact set of classes to load, when using NHibernate we use HQL.

Here’s the sequence diagram showing how this works.

fetching strategy sequence diagram - opens in a new window

One question that you might ask is what if there is more than one class that implements the same interface? How could the infrastructure know which class it should be loading? The answer is simple. You shouldn’t do that. Having two classes fulfilling the same role will get you in trouble even if you don’t use this design. The Single Responsibility Principle should be our guiding light.

In summary, achieving high performance is possible when using Domain Models and Object/Relational Mapping, but requires minimizing calls to the database. This design decreases coupling between all the cooperating parts of the solution without giving up the ability to optimize over a specific technology.

Download the full detailed design (in HTML format). I’ll be offering the edittable Enterprise Architect format shortly.

Domain Model Pattern

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

When implementing a domain model, often object-relational mapping technologies are used. Like many tools, with their use comes the danger of abuse – abuse to the point of invalidating the benefits of the pattern itself.

From some pointers about how to use (and not to use) these tools, see why object-relational mapping sucks.

Martin Fowler’s has this to say about the Domain Model Pattern:

At its worst business logic can be very complex. Rules and logic describe many different cases and slants of behavior, and it’s this complexity that objects were designed to work with. A Domain Model creates a web of interconnected objects, where each object represents some meaningful individual, whether as large as a corporation or as small as a single line on an order form.

In short, using Object-Oriented techniques to handle the complexity.

A more comprehensive discussion about what happens when it is not used can be found under the Anemic Domain Model Anti-Pattern:

The basic symptom of an Anemic Domain Model is that at first blush it looks like the real thing. There are objects, many named after the nouns in the domain space, and these objects are connected with the rich relationships and structure that true domain models have. The catch comes when you look at the behavior, and you realize that there is very little behavior on these objects. Indeed often these models come with design rules that say that you are not to put any domain logic in the the domain objects. Instead there are a set of service objects which capture all the domain logic. These services live on top of the domain model and use the domain model for data.

The fundamental horror of this anti-pattern is that it’s so contrary to the basic idea of object-oriented design; which is to combine data and process together. The anemic domain model is really just a procedural style design…

In terms of Domain-Driven Design, this pattern is also known as Domain Layer.

Domain Models do a lot for encapsulating Business Rules, thus making them amenable to automated testing. This hinges on keeping the Domain Model independent of things related to Data Access.

It is therefore almost required to use some kind of Object/Relational Mapping tool to make it possible to persist objects belonging to the domain model to databases and other kinds of storage.

The use of DataSets in .NET is often a sign of the Anemic Domain Model Anti-Pattern.

One thing to keep in mind when working on a domain model is that you probably won’t get it “right” the first time, and will have re-work the division of responsibility a couple of times. Techniques like Test-Driven Development help out immensely for that.

Object/Relational Mapping and Scalability

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

“How come there is no talk about scaling these ORMs?”.

The answer is simple.

You don’t have to.

Or, if you think you do, you’re probably using them wrong.

An O/R mapper should NOT live in its own tier.

Object/Relational Mappers never stand alone. They are used to provide persistence for something else – either for the Domain Model Pattern or for the Active Record pattern.

In terms of scalability, again these patterns usually don’t stand by themselves, but rather are hosted by something else. When used on the client side, say in a smart client application, then scalability isn’t often considered. There are some kinds of smart clients where hitting the database on most user interactions will bring the system to its knees, but that’s again an issue of database scalability. The common solution is some kind of client-side caching.

Anyway, the two main parameters you need to look at for your common and high-load scenarios when using an O/R mapper are these:

  • How many times do you hit the DB per business action.
  • How many objects/records/rows/columns do you bring into memory per business action.

You should be looking at appropriate uses of Lazy Loading for both of them.

Finally, keep in mind that O/R mappers are only part of your solution. Measure and optimize wisely.

Lazy-Loading and How Messaging Fixes Everything Again

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

In a previous post I described the two common scenarios for fetching an object from the database. More importantly, I showed the importance of having a different fetching strategy in the case of retrieving data for the purposes of passing it to someone else, and in the case of going to update that same data. Ayende and others looked at the solution I described and wanted something simpler. So here it is.

When working in a tiered deployment, client code needs to talk to some “service” (and I use the term lightly) to get the data. That same service may also contain a rich domain model which handles the business logic around updating its data. In this case, the lazy loading behavior of the domain model will be such as to bring the highest performance to the business logic of updating the data. The question then becomes, how do we retrieve that same data with lazy-loading behavior that will yield high performance or is suitable for serializing and sending back to the client.

Were we to model the interaction between client and service using message-exchange patterns, and used a design that kept those messages (and their data structures) independent of any other implementation details (POJO/POCO/PONO style), we could just O/R map those classes too.

What this means is that the class GetAllCustomersMessageHandler would respond with a CustomersDataMessage that contained a list of CustomerInfo objects. The CustomerInfo class is separate from the Customer class found within the service’s domain model. However, this does not mean that the message handler cannot write the following line of code:

IList<CustomerInfo> customersToSerialize = mySession.GetAll<CustomerInfo>();

This is Message/Relational Mapping without going all the way to XML/Relational Mapping as Jesse suggest here (although he ignores the whole issue of implementing Domain Models or Active Records using an O/R Mapper).

What this solution enables us to do is to define different lazy-loading behaviors for the Customer and CustomerInfo classes. Other things that are nice about this solution is that it builds on all the existing design patterns already found in a message-based, domain-driven system without adding anything new. On the other hand, if you do require numerous lazy-loading behaviors for performance reasons, the more generic fetching strategy I described before is your best bet.


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Bryan Wheeler, Director Platform Development at msnbc.com
Udi Dahan is the real deal.

We brought him on site to give our development staff the 5-day “Advanced Distributed System Design” training. The course profoundly changed our understanding and approach to SOA and distributed systems.

Consider some of the evidence: 1. Months later, developers still make allusions to concepts learned in the course nearly every day 2. One of our developers went home and made her husband (a developer at another company) sign up for the course at a subsequent date/venue 3. Based on what we learned, we’ve made constant improvements to our architecture that have helped us to adapt to our ever changing business domain at scale and speed If you have the opportunity to receive the training, you will make a substantial paradigm shift.

If I were to do the whole thing over again, I’d start the week by playing the clip from the Matrix where Morpheus offers Neo the choice between the red and blue pills. Once you make the intellectual leap, you’ll never look at distributed systems the same way.

Beyond the training, we were able to spend some time with Udi discussing issues unique to our business domain. Because Udi is a rare combination of a big picture thinker and a low level doer, he can quickly hone in on various issues and quickly make good (if not startling) recommendations to help solve tough technical issues.” November 11, 2010

Sam Gentile Sam Gentile, Independent WCF & SOA Expert
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A man I respect immensely.”

Ian Robinson Ian Robinson, Principal Consultant at ThoughtWorks
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Shy Cohen Shy Cohen, Senior Program Manager at Microsoft
“Udi is a world renowned software architect and speaker. I met Udi at a conference that we were both speaking at, and immediately recognized his keen insight and razor-sharp intellect. Our shared passion for SOA and the advancement of its practice launched a discussion that lasted into the small hours of the night.
It was evident through that discussion that Udi is one of the most knowledgeable people in the SOA space. It was also clear why – Udi does not settle for mediocrity, and seeks to fully understand (or define) the logic and principles behind things.
Humble yet uncompromising, Udi is a pleasure to interact with.”

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“I have known Udi for many years having attended his workshops and having several personal interactions including working with him when we were building our Composite Application Guidance in patterns & practices. What impresses me about Udi is his deep insight into how to address business problems through sound architecture. Backed by many years of building mission critical real world distributed systems it is no wonder that Udi is the best at what he does. When customers have deep issues with their system design, I point them Udi's way.”

Karl Wannenmacher Karl Wannenmacher, Senior Lead Expert at Frequentis AG
“I have been following Udi’s blog and podcasts since 2007. I’m convinced that he is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced people in the field of SOA, EDA and large scale systems.
Udi helped Frequentis to design a major subsystem of a large mission critical system with a nationwide deployment based on NServiceBus. It was impressive to see how he took the initial architecture and turned it upside down leading to a very flexible and scalable yet simple system without knowing the details of the business domain. I highly recommend consulting with Udi when it comes to large scale mission critical systems in any domain.”

Simon Segal Simon Segal, Independent Consultant
“Udi is one of the outstanding software development minds in the world today, his vast insights into Service Oriented Architectures and Smart Clients in particular are indeed a rare commodity. Udi is also an exceptional teacher and can help lead teams to fall into the pit of success. I would recommend Udi to anyone considering some Architecural guidance and support in their next project.”

Ohad Israeli Ohad Israeli, Chief Architect at Hewlett-Packard, Indigo Division
“When you need a man to do the job Udi is your man! No matter if you are facing near deadline deadlock or at the early stages of your development, if you have a problem Udi is the one who will probably be able to solve it, with his large experience at the industry and his widely horizons of thinking , he is always full of just in place great architectural ideas.
I am honored to have Udi as a colleague and a friend (plus having his cell phone on my speed dial).”

Ward Bell Ward Bell, VP Product Development at IdeaBlade
“Everyone will tell you how smart and knowledgable Udi is ... and they are oh-so-right. Let me add that Udi is a smart LISTENER. He's always calibrating what he has to offer with your needs and your experience ... looking for the fit. He has strongly held views ... and the ability to temper them with the nuances of the situation.
I trust Udi to tell me what I need to hear, even if I don't want to hear it, ... in a way that I can hear it. That's a rare skill to go along with his command and intelligence.”

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“We hired Udi as a SOA specialist for a large scale project. The development is outsourced to India. SOA is a buzzword used almost for anything today. We wanted to understand what SOA really is, and what is the meaning and practice to develop a SOA based system.
We identified Udi as the one that can put some sense and order in our minds. We started with a private customized SOA training for the entire team in Israel. After that I had several focused sessions regarding our architecture and design.
I will summarize it simply (as he is the software simplist): We are very happy to have Udi in our project. It has a great benefit. We feel good and assured with the knowledge and practice he brings. He doesn’t talk over our heads. We assimilated nServicebus as the ESB of the project. I highly recommend you to bring Udi into your project.”

Catherine Hole Catherine Hole, Senior Project Manager at the Norwegian Health Network
“My colleagues and I have spent five interesting days with Udi - diving into the many aspects of SOA. Udi has shown impressive abilities of understanding organizational challenges, and has brought the business perspective into our way of looking at services. He has an excellent understanding of the many layers from business at the top to the technical infrstructure at the bottom. He is a great listener, and manages to simplify challenges in a way that is understandable both for developers and CEOs, and all the specialists in between.”

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“Udi has a unique, in depth understanding of service oriented architecture and how it should be used in the real world, combined with excellent presentation skills. I think Udi should be a premier choice for a consultant or architect of distributed systems.”

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“When we were faced with a task of creating a high performance server for a video-tele conferencing domain we decided to opt for a stateless cluster with SQL server approach. In order to confirm our decision we invited Udi.

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It was a distinct pleasure and a unique opportunity to learn from someone who is among the best at what he does.”

Jack Van Hoof Jack Van Hoof, Enterprise Integration Architect at Dutch Railways
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“Having followed Udi's blog and other writings for a number of years I attended Udi's two day course on 'Loosely Coupled Messaging with NServiceBus' at SkillsMatter, London.

I would strongly recommend this course to anyone with an interest in how to develop IT systems which provide immediate and future fitness for purpose. An influential and innovative thought leader and practitioner in his field, Udi demonstrates and shares a phenomenally in depth knowledge that proves his position as one of the premier experts in his field globally.

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I cannot recommend Udi, and his courses, highly enough.”

Nick Malik Nick Malik, Enterprise Architect at Microsoft Corporation
You are an excellent speaker and trainer, Udi, and I've had the fortunate experience of having attended one of your presentations. I believe that you are a knowledgable and intelligent man.”

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“Udi has provided us with guidance in system architecture and supports our implementation of NServiceBus in our core business application.

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With Udi's attention to details, and knowledge we avoided pit falls that would cost us dearly.”

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“I know Udi very well from our mutual work at KorenTec. During the analysis and design of a complex, distributed C4I system - where the basic concepts of NServiceBus start to emerge - I gained a lot of "Udi's hours" so I can surely say that he is a professional, skilled architect with fresh ideas and unique perspective for solving complex architecture challenges. His ideas, concepts and parts of the artifacts are the basis of several state-of-the-art C4I systems that I was involved in their architecture design.”

Aaron Jensen Aaron Jensen, VP of Engineering at Eleutian Technology
Awesome. Just awesome.

We’d been meaning to delve into messaging at Eleutian after multiple discussions with and blog posts from Greg Young and Udi Dahan in the past. We weren’t entirely sure where to start, how to start, what tools to use, how to use them, etc. Being able to sit in a room with Udi for an entire week while he described exactly how, why and what he does to tackle a massive enterprise system was invaluable to say the least.

We now have a much better direction and, more importantly, have the confidence we need to start introducing these powerful concepts into production at Eleutian.”

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“I had the pleasure of attending a workshop Udi led at the Seattle ALT.NET conference in February 2009. I have been reading Udi's articles and listening to his podcasts for a long time and have always looked to him as a source of advice on software architecture.
When I actually met him and talked to him I was even more impressed. Not only is Udi an extremely likable person, he's got that rare gift of being able to explain complex concepts and ideas in a way that is easy to understand.
All the attendees of the workshop greatly appreciate the time he spent with us and the amazing insights into service oriented architecture he shared with us.”

Alexey Shestialtynov Alexey Shestialtynov, Senior .Net Developer at Candidate Manager
“I met Udi at Candidate Manager where he was brought in part-time as a consultant to help the company make its flagship product more scalable. For me, even after 30 years in software development, working with Udi was a great learning experience. I simply love his fresh ideas and architecture insights.
As we all know it is not enough to be armed with best tools and technologies to be successful in software - there is still human factor involved. When, as it happens, the project got in trouble, management asked Udi to step into a leadership role and bring it back on track. This he did in the span of a month. I can only wish that things had been done this way from the very beginning.
I look forward to working with Udi again in the future.”

Christopher Bennage Christopher Bennage, President at Blue Spire Consulting, Inc.
“My company was hired to be the primary development team for a large scale and highly distributed application. Since these are not necessarily everyday requirements, we wanted to bring in some additional expertise. We chose Udi because of his blogging, podcasting, and speaking. We asked him to to review our architectural strategy as well as the overall viability of project.
I was very impressed, as Udi demonstrated a broad understanding of the sorts of problems we would face. His advice was honest and unbiased and very pragmatic. Whenever I questioned him on particular points, he was able to backup his opinion with real life examples. I was also impressed with his clarity and precision. He was very careful to untangle the meaning of words that might be overloaded or otherwise confusing. While Udi's hourly rate may not be the cheapest, the ROI is undoubtedly a deal. I would highly recommend consulting with Udi.”

Robert Lewkovich, Product / Development Manager at Eggs Overnight
“Udi's advice and consulting were a huge time saver for the project I'm responsible for. The $ spent were well worth it and provided me with a more complete understanding of nServiceBus and most importantly in helping make the correct architectural decisions earlier thereby reducing later, and more expensive, rework.”

Ray Houston Ray Houston, Director of Development at TOPAZ Technologies
“Udi's SOA class made me smart - it was awesome.

The class was very well put together. The materials were clear and concise and Udi did a fantastic job presenting it. It was a good mixture of lecture, coding, and question and answer. I fully expected that I would be taking notes like crazy, but it was so well laid out that the only thing I wrote down the entire course was what I wanted for lunch. Udi provided us with all the lecture materials and everyone has access to all of the samples which are in the nServiceBus trunk.

Now I know why Udi is the "Software Simplist." I was amazed to find that all the code and solutions were indeed very simple. The patterns that Udi presented keep things simple by isolating complexity so that it doesn't creep into your day to day code. The domain code looks the same if it's running in a single process or if it's running in 100 processes.”

Ian Cooper Ian Cooper, Team Lead at Beazley
“Udi is one of the leaders in the .Net development community, one of the truly smart guys who do not just get best architectural practice well enough to educate others but drives innovation. Udi consistently challenges my thinking in ways that make me better at what I do.”

Liron Levy, Team Leader at Rafael
“I've met Udi when I worked as a team leader in Rafael. One of the most senior managers there knew Udi because he was doing superb architecture job in another Rafael project and he recommended bringing him on board to help the project I was leading.
Udi brought with him fresh solutions and invaluable deep architecture insights. He is an authority on SOA (service oriented architecture) and this was a tremendous help in our project.
On the personal level - Udi is a great communicator and can persuade even the most difficult audiences (I was part of such an audience myself..) by bringing sound explanations that draw on his extensive knowledge in the software business. Working with Udi was a great learning experience for me, and I'll be happy to work with him again in the future.”

Adam Dymitruk Adam Dymitruk, Director of IT at Apara Systems
“I met Udi for the first time at DevTeach in Montreal back in early 2007. While Udi is usually involved in SOA subjects, his knowledge spans all of a software development company's concerns. I would not hesitate to recommend Udi for any company that needs excellent leadership, mentoring, problem solving, application of patterns, implementation of methodologies and straight out solution development.
There are very few people in the world that are as dedicated to their craft as Udi is to his. At ALT.NET Seattle, Udi explained many core ideas about SOA. The team that I brought with me found his workshop and other talks the highlight of the event and provided the most value to us and our organization. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to recommend him.”

Eytan Michaeli Eytan Michaeli, CTO Korentec
“Udi was responsible for a major project in the company, and as a chief architect designed a complex multi server C4I system with many innovations and excellent performance.”

Carl Kenne Carl Kenne, .Net Consultant at Dotway AB
“Udi's session "DDD in Enterprise apps" was truly an eye opener. Udi has a great ability to explain complex enterprise designs in a very comprehensive and inspiring way. I've seen several sessions on both DDD and SOA in the past, but Udi puts it in a completly new perspective and makes us understand what it's all really about. If you ever have a chance to see any of Udi's sessions in the future, take it!”

Avi Nehama, R&D Project Manager at Retalix
“Not only that Udi is a briliant software architecture consultant, he also has remarkable abilities to present complex ideas in a simple and concise manner, and...
always with a smile. Udi is indeed a top-league professional!”

Ben Scheirman Ben Scheirman, Lead Developer at CenterPoint Energy
“Udi is one of those rare people who not only deeply understands SOA and domain driven design, but also eloquently conveys that in an easy to grasp way. He is patient, polite, and easy to talk to. I'm extremely glad I came to his workshop on SOA.”

Scott C. Reynolds Scott C. Reynolds, Director of Software Engineering at CBLPath
“Udi is consistently advancing the state of thought in software architecture, service orientation, and domain modeling.
His mastery of the technologies and techniques is second to none, but he pairs that with a singular ability to listen and communicate effectively with all parties, technical and non, to help people arrive at context-appropriate solutions. Every time I have worked with Udi, or attended a talk of his, or just had a conversation with him I have come away from it enriched with new understanding about the ideas discussed.”

Evgeny-Hen Osipow, Head of R&D at PCLine
“Udi has helped PCLine on projects by implementing architectural blueprints demonstrating the value of simple design and code.”

Rhys Campbell Rhys Campbell, Owner at Artemis West
“For many years I have been following the works of Udi. His explanation of often complex design and architectural concepts are so cleanly broken down that even the most junior of architects can begin to understand these concepts. These concepts however tend to typify the "real world" problems we face daily so even the most experienced software expert will find himself in an "Aha!" moment when following Udi teachings.
It was a pleasure to finally meet Udi in Seattle Alt.Net OpenSpaces 2008, where I was pleasantly surprised at how down-to-earth and approachable he was. His depth and breadth of software knowledge also became apparent when discussion with his peers quickly dove deep in to the problems we current face. If given the opportunity to work with or recommend Udi I would quickly take that chance. When I think .Net Architecture, I think Udi.”

Sverre Hundeide Sverre Hundeide, Senior Consultant at Objectware
“Udi had been hired to present the third LEAP master class in Oslo. He is an well known international expert on enterprise software architecture and design, and is the author of the open source messaging framework nServiceBus. The entire class was based on discussion and interaction with the audience, and the only Power Point slide used was the one showing the agenda.
He started out with sketching a naive traditional n-tier application (big ball of mud), and based on suggestions from the audience we explored different solutions which might improve the solution. Whatever suggestions we threw at him, he always had a thoroughly considered answer describing pros and cons with the suggested solution. He obviously has a lot of experience with real world enterprise SOA applications.”

Raphaël Wouters Raphaël Wouters, Owner/Managing Partner at Medinternals
“I attended Udi's excellent course 'Advanced Distributed System Design with SOA and DDD' at Skillsmatter. Few people can truly claim such a high skill and expertise level, present it using a pragmatic, concrete no-nonsense approach and still stay reachable.”

Nimrod Peleg Nimrod Peleg, Lab Engineer at Technion IIT
“One of the best programmers and software engineer I've ever met, creative, knows how to design and implemet, very collaborative and finally - the applications he designed implemeted work for many years without any problems!

Jose Manuel Beas
“When I attended Udi's SOA Workshop, then it suddenly changed my view of what Service Oriented Architectures were all about. Udi explained complex concepts very clearly and created a very productive discussion environment where all the attendees could learn a lot. I strongly recommend hiring Udi.”

Daniel Jin Daniel Jin, Senior Lead Developer at PJM Interconnection
“Udi is one of the top SOA guru in the .NET space. He is always eager to help others by sharing his knowledge and experiences. His blog articles often offer deep insights and is a invaluable resource. I highly recommend him.”

Pasi Taive Pasi Taive, Chief Architect at Tieto
“I attended both of Udi's "UI Composition Key to SOA Success" and "DDD in Enterprise Apps" sessions and they were exceptionally good. I will definitely participate in his sessions again. Udi is a great presenter and has the ability to explain complex issues in a manner that everyone understands.”

Eran Sagi, Software Architect at HP
“So far, I heard about Service Oriented architecture all over. Everyone mentions it – the big buzz word. But, when I actually asked someone for what does it really mean, no one managed to give me a complete satisfied answer. Finally in his excellent course “Advanced Distributed Systems”, I got the answers I was looking for. Udi went over the different motivations (principles) of Services Oriented, explained them well one by one, and showed how each one could be technically addressed using NService bus. In his course, Udi also explain the way of thinking when coming to design a Service Oriented system. What are the questions you need to ask yourself in order to shape your system, place the logic in the right places for best Service Oriented system.

I would recommend this course for any architect or developer who deals with distributed system, but not only. In my work we do not have a real distributed system, but one PC which host both the UI application and the different services inside, all communicating via WCF. I found that many of the architecture principles and motivations of SOA apply for our system as well. Enough that you have SW partitioned into components and most of the principles becomes relevant to you as well. Bottom line – an excellent course recommended to any SW Architect, or any developer dealing with distributed system.”

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