Catchup subscriptions with Rails Event Store

Catchup subscriptions with Rails Event Store

The usual way of handling domain events in Rails Event Store is using the included pub-sub mechanism. And in most cases, especially when you have majestic monolith application it is enough. It is also easiest to grasp by the team and use in legacy applications implemented using Rails Way. But sometimes it is not enough, sometimes this way of handling events become an obstacle.

Let me define the domain problem. The feature we want to implement is described by requirements:

  • every time a blog post is published its metadata (slug, title, time of creation, author, tags) should be sent to external system to index our articles
  • when blogpost is updated the metadata in external index must be also updated

At the beginning it looks very simple. And a first, naive, implementation of this requirements could look like:

Let’s start with new Rails application with RailsEventStore template:

rails new -m https://railseventstore.org/new blog.yourdomain.com

Then let’s create a modules (bounded contexts) because we don’t want to end up in Big Ball Of Mud quickly:

rails generate bounded_context:bounded_context blogging
rails generate bounded_context:bounded_context index

Next, we need to define domain events, implement the blogging logic (omitted here because that’s different topic for another post):

# ./blogging/lib/blogging.rb


module Blogging
  class ArticlePublished < RailsEventStore::Event
    # ... the schema of events should be defined here
  end

  class ArticleChanged < RailsEventStore::Event
    # ... and here ;)
  end
end

Define subscriptions, to connect our domain events to handlers:

# ./config/initializers/rails_event_store.rb


Rails.configuration.to_prepare do
  Rails.configuration.event_store = RailsEventStore::Client.new(
    dispatcher: RubyEventStore::ComposedDispatcher.new(
      RailsEventStore::AfterCommitAsyncDispatcher.new(
        scheduler: RailsEventStore::ActiveJobScheduler.new),
      RubyEventStore::Dispatcher.new
    )
  )
  Rails.configuration.command_bus = Arkency::CommandBus.new

  Rails.configuration.event_store.tap do |store|
    store.subscribe(Index::PushArticleToIndex,
      to: [
        Blogging::ArticlePublished,
        Blogging::ArticleChanged,
      ]
    )
  end
end

And finally our handler to send articles to external indexing service:

# ./index/lib/index/publish_article_to_index.rb


module Index
  class PushArticleToIndex < ActiveJob::Base
    prepend RailsEventStore::AsyncHandler

    def initialize(index_adapter = Rails.configuration.index_adapter)
      @index = index_adpater
    end

    def perform(event)
      @index.push(build_index_data(event))
    end

    private
    def build_index_data(event)
      # ... does not matter here, some hash probably ;)
    end
  end
end

A few things to notice

1st: embrace async!

The Index::PushArticleToIndex is an asynchronous event handler. It is inherited from ActiveJob::Base and implements perform(event) method. This will allow to use it by RailsEventStore::ActiveJobScheduler and schedule sending to an index asynchronously, without blocking the execution of main logic. Because we do not want to fail publishing our new article just because indexing service is down :)

2nd: beware of transaction rollbacks!

Some background jobs adapters (i.e. Sidekiq) use Redis to store information about scheduled jobs. That’s why we should change default dispatcher in Rails Event Store client to RailsEventStore::AfterCommitAsyncDispatcher. It ensures that the async handlers will be scheduled only after commit of current database transaction. Your handlers won’t be triggered when transaction is rolled back.

3rd: subscribing to async handers is different

Rails Event Store uses call(event) method to invoke an event handler’s logic. By default you need to pass a callable instance of handler or lambda to subscribe method. But this is not the same when using RailsEventStore::ActiveJobScheduler. If you want to have your handler processed by this scheduler it must be a class and must inherit from ActiveJob::Base. Otherwise (thanks to the RubyEventStore::ComposedDispatcher) it will be handed by default RubyEventStore::Dispatcher.

Where is the drawback?

This solution has a drawback. Let’s imagine that your blogging platform becomes extremely popular and you need to handle hundreds of blogposts per second. Thanks to async processing you might even be able to cope with that. But then your index provider announced it has ended his “amazing journey” and you need to move your index to a new one. Do I have to mention that your paying customers expect the platform will work 24/7 ? ;)

Making things differently

Catchup subscription is a subscription where client defines a starting point and a size of dataset to handle. Basically it’s a while loop reading through a stream of events with defined chunk size. It could be a separate process, maybe even on separate node which we will spin up only to handle incoming events and push the articles to the external index provider.

First things first

The catchup subscription is easy to implement when you read from a single stream. But your Blogging context should not put all events into single stream. That’s obvious. In this case we could use linking to stream feature in Rails Event Store.

Change the Rails Event Store initializer:

# ./config/initializers/rails_event_store.rb


Rails.configuration.to_prepare do
  Rails.configuration.event_store = RailsEventStore::Client.new(
    dispatcher: RubyEventStore::ComposedDispatcher.new(
      RailsEventStore::AfterCommitAsyncDispatcher.new(
        scheduler: RailsEventStore::ActiveJobScheduler.new),
      RubyEventStore::Dispatcher.new
    )
  )
  Rails.configuration.command_bus = Arkency::CommandBus.new

  Rails.configuration.event_store.tap do |store|
    store.subscribe(Index::LinkToIndex.new(store),
      to: [
        Blogging::ArticlePublished,
        Blogging::ArticleChanged,
      ]
    )
  end
end

And instead of PublishArticleToIndex use LinkToIndex:

# ./index/lib/index/link_to_index.rb


module Index
  class LinkToIndex
    def initialize(event_store)
      @event_store = event_store
    end

    def call(event)
      @event_store.link(event.event_id, "indexable-articles")
    end
  end
end

This time we will use a simple synchronous handler. Thanks to RubyEventStore::ComposedDispatcher we do not need to change anything. It won’t match the handlers handled by RailsEventStore::ActiveJobScheduler so the default RubyEventStore::Dispatcher will trigger the event handler.

Implementing catchup subscription

When started, the catchup subscription should start reading from the last processed event and handle read events (pushing them to the external index).

Here a sample implementation:

# ./index/lib/index/push_articles_to_index.rb


module Index
  class PushArticlesToIndex
    def initialize(event_store, index_adapter, chunk_size = 1000)
      @event_store = event_store
      @index = index_adpater
      @chunk_size = chunk_size
    end

    def call(starting_point = determine_starting_point)
      while(!(events = fetch_from(starting_point)).empty?)
        events.each do |event|
          @index.push(build_index_data(event))
          store_processed(event.event_id)
        end
      end
    end

    private
    def fetch_from(event_id)
      scope = @event_store.read
        .stream('indexable-articles')
      scope = scope.from(event_id) if event_id
      scope.limit(@chunk_size)
    end

    def determine_starting_point
      # ... read last processed event id
    end

    def store_processed(event_id)
      # ... store processed event id
    end

    def build_index_data(event)
      # ... does not matter here, some hash probably ;)
    end
  end
end

Why a separate process?

Let’s start with cons of this solution. The obvious one is you need a separate process :) Maybe with separate deployment, separate CI etc. Probably more time will pass between publication of article and indexing it. So why bother?

Rebuilding an index

The external index is basically a read model of your articles metadata. Tailor made, aligned with capabilities of external index provider. Recreateable.

This is what makes a difference here. To rebuild an index from scratch all you need to do is to remove the stored starting point for the catchup subscription and wait some time. The indexing will start from beginning and will go though all published articles until index will be up to date.

But there is more!

I’ve mentioned a scenario where you change your external index provider. Using a catchup subscription it will be quite easy. Just create new instance of the subscription process with different index adapter. Run it and wait until it catches up and indexes all the published articles. And then just switch your application to new external index and drop the old subscription.

Struggling to apply DDD concepts to your Rails app?

For a few years we’ve been studying Domain-Driven Design and applying its techniques in our projects. In this book we describe techniques that you can use in new and old Rails apps to achieve better architecture. They were useful to us and we are sure they are going to be useful for you.

Click here to read more!

Domain-Driven Rails

There is more... check out other books published by us

You might also like