Sunday, July 9, 2017

Observations on Repositories

During a long brain storming session, I finally had an important breakthrough on the role of repositories in Domain Driven Design.

In short, the repository is a seam between the application component (acting as the client) and the domain component (acting as the provider).  Persistence concerns and the business logic live within the implementation of the repository.

In the literature, I usually find examples where there is just a single implementation of "the aggregate" that is visible everywhere.  But if we think in terms of evolving the model -- in particular
of being able to replace the model with an improved version easily, then we need to be thinking in terms of interfaces, and service providers.

When Evans was first writing of aggregates, the lines between read and write were somewhat blurred; it wasn't unreasonable to expect that your repository could read state out of the aggregate interface..  With the introduction of CQRS, things get more complicated.  If the use case only calls for the application to modify some aggregate, then the interface that represents that aggregate should only have commands in it that are specific to that case.  In other words, the interface provided to the application doesn't need to have any affordances for reading the current state -- it can be tightly tailored to the specific use case.

Sidebar: this is what ensures that we end up with a "rich" domain model; because the application can't get at the state, it has no recourse except to invoke the provided command method and allow the aggregate to implement the change as it chooses.  The query/calculate/update protocol doesn't work if no queries are accessible.

For the repository to save the state of the object, it needs access to the state captured within it.  Which means that the repository needs more intimate familiarity with the aggregate than what was shared with the application.  We can achieve that in a strong typing system, using generics.

The application no longer knows the exact type of the TradeBook it has retrieved; however, the compiler can verify that the argument passed to the repository matches the implementation that was retrieved from the repository.

All of the domain logic -- what changes when we place an order, how is that change represented in memory, how is that change durably stored -- all of those decisions live within the model, somewhere behind the repository interface.  The repository understands how this model represents all of its data because the repository is of the model.  When we swap out the domain model, the repository is exchanged as well.

Most importantly, the question of whether current state is represented as a collection of events, or as an aggregate document, that decision is answered within the domain model, behind the repository facade.

Expressed another way, the composition root will wire up a persistent store, and then inject that store into a domain model that understands the store, and then will wire up the data model and its repositories with the application (as opposed to wiring the application to the persistence store and the domain model independently).

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