Outbox Support

Brighter supports storing messages that are sent via an External Bus in an Outbox, as per the Outbox Pattern

This allows you to determine that a change to an entity owned by your application should always result in a message being sent i.e. you have Transactional Messaging.

There are two approaches to using Brighter's Outbox:

  • Post: This does not offer Transactional Messaging, but does offer replay

  • Deposit and Clear: This approach offers Transactional Messaging.

The Post method on the CommandProcessor in Brighter writes first to the Outbox and if that succeeds to the Message-Oriented Middleware. If you use Post, then your correctness options are Ignore/Retry or Compensation. You can use Post with Log Tailing or Event Change Capture but you have to implement those yourself.

The DepositPost and ClearOutbox methods allow you to use the Outbox pattern instead.


In this approach you choose to CommandProcessor.Post a message after your Db transaction writes entity state to the Db. You intend to rely on the retrying the call to the broker if it fails. You should make sure that you have setup your CommandProcessor.RETRYPOLICY policy with this in mind.

One caveat here is to look at the interaction of the retry on Post and any UsePolicy attribute for the handler. If your CommandProcessor.RETRYPOLICY policy bubbles up an exception following the last Retry attempt, and your UsePolicy attribute for the handler then catches that exception for your handler and forces a Retry, you will end up re-running the database transaction, which may result in duplicate entries. Your UsePolicy attribute for the handler needs to explicitly catch the Db errors you wish to retry, and not errors Posting to the message queue in this case.

(As an aside, you should generally write Retry policies to catch specific errors that you know you can retry, not all errors anyway).

In this case, you might also need to consider using a Fallback method via the FallbackPolicy attribute to catch CommandProcessor.Post exceptions that bubble out and issue a reversing transaction to kill any Db entries made in error, or raise a log to ensure that there will be manual compensation.

CommandProcessor.Post still uses the Outbox to store messages you send, but you are not including them in the Db transaction scope, so you have no guarantees.

If the failure was on the call to the transport, and not the write to the Outbox, you will still have a Outbox entry that you can resend via manual compensation later. If the message is posted to the broker, it must have already been written to the Outbox.

In you fail to write to the Outbox, but have successfully written the entity to the Db, you would need to compensate by reversing the write to the Db in a Fallback handler.

Deposit and Clear

Brighter allows the write to the Outbox and the write to the Broker to be separated. This form or Brighter allows you to support Producer-Consumer correctness via the Outbox Pattern.

Metaphorically, you can think of this as a post box. You deposit a letter in a post box. Later the postal service clears the post box of letters and delivers them to their recipients.

Within your database transaction you write the message to the Outbox with CommandProcessor.DepositPost. This means that if the entity write succeeds, the corresponding write to the Outbox will have taken place. This method returns the Id for that message.

(Note that we use CommandProcessor.RETRYPOLICY on the write, but this will only impact the attempt to write within the transaction, not the success or failure of the overall Db transaction, which is under your control. You can safely ignore Db errors on this policy within this approach for this reason.)

You can then call CommandProcessor.ClearPostBox to flush one or more messages from the Outbox to the broker. We support multiple messages as your entity write might possibly involve sending multiple downstream messages, which you want to include in the transaction.

It provides a stronger guarantee than the CommandProcessor.Post outside Db transaction with Retry approach as the write to the Outbox shares a transaction with the persistence of entity state.

Bulk Deposit

Starting in v9.2.1 Brighter allows a batch of Messages to be written to the Outbox. If your outbox suoports Bulk (This will become a requirement in v10) CommandProcessor.DepositPost can be used to deposit a large number of messages in much quicker than individually.

When creating your CommandProcessor you can set an outbox bulk chunk size, if the amount of mesages to be deposited into the Outbox is greater than this number it will be broken up into chunks of no more than this size.

Participating in Transactions

Brighter has the functionality to allow the Outbox to participate in the database transactions of your application so that you can ensure that distributed requests will be persisted (or fail to persist) inline with application changes.

To have the Brighter Outbox participate in Database transactions the command process must be built specifying a IAmABoxTransactionConnectionProvider, this connection provider will be used when CommandProcessor.DepositPost is called and if there is an active transactions the Outbox will participate in the active transaction provider by the specified IAmABoxTransactionConnectionProvider.

It is important to note that CommandProcessor.Clear and CommandPorcessor.Post will never participate in transactions as the purpose transaction participation is to ensure that Outbox messages are committed (or fail to commit) in the same transaction as application entity changes.

Below is an example using a UnitOfWork that wraps the database connection for your application

//Begin Database transaction

    //Update applicationEntities
    var updatedContact = contactsService.UpdateContact(contact);

    //Deposit the message in the outbox

    //Commit Transaction
catch(Exception e)
    // If there was an error during processing, rollback all changes

Implicit or Explicit Clearing of Messages from the Outbox

There are two approaches to dispatching messages from Brighter's Outbox

  • Implicitly: This relies on a Sweeper to dispatch messages out of process

  • Explicitly: This ensures that your message is sent sooner but will processing time to your application code.

To explicitly clear a message you can call CommandProcessor.ClearOutbox directly in your handler, after the Db transaction completes. This has the lowest latency. You are responsible for tracking the ids of messages that you wish to send in CommandProcessor.ClearOutbox, we do not maintain this state for you. Note that you cannnot guarantee that this will succeed, although you can Retry. We use CommandProcessor.RETRYPOLICY on the write to the Broker, and you should retry errors writing to the Broker in that policy. However, as the message is now in the Outbox you can compensate for eventual failure to write to the Broker by replaying the message from the MessageStore at a later time.

To implicitly clear messages from your outbox, configure a Outbox Sweeper to listen to your Outbox and dispatch messages for you. Once an Outbox Sweeper is running you no longer need to call CommandProcessor.ClearOutbox however you still have the choice to if you feel a specific message is time sensitive.

Outbox Sweeper

The Outbox Sweeper is an out of process service that monitors an Outbox and dispatches messages that have yet to be dispatches. Using Outbox Sweeper has a lower latency impact for your application, but because it keeps trying to send the messages until it succeeds is the recommended approach to Guranteed, At Least Once, Delivery.

The benefits of using an Outbox Sweeper are:

  • If there is a failure dispatch a message after it is committed to the Outbox it will be retried until it is dispatches

  • The ability to choose between the implicit and explicit clearing of messages

The Timed Outbox Sweeper has the following configurables

  • TimerInterval: The amount of seconds to wait between checks for undispatches messages (default: 5)

  • MinimumMessageAge: The age a message (in miliseconds) that a messages should be before the OutboxSweeper should attempt to dispatch it. (default: 5000)

  • BatchSize: The number of messages to attempt to dispatch in each check (default: 100)

  • UseBulk: Use Bulk dispatching of messages on your Messaging Gateway (default: false), note: not all messaging Gateways support Bulk dispatching.

It is important to note that the lower the Minimum Message age is the more likely it is that your message will be dispatches more than once (as if you are explicitly clearing messages your application may have instructed the clearing of a message at the same time as the Outbox Sweeper)

Outbox Archiver

The Outbox Archiver is an out of process services that monitors an Outbox and will archive messages of older than a certain age.

The Timed Outbox Archiver has the following configurables

  • TimerInterval: The number of seconds to wait between checked for messages eligable for archival (default: 15)

  • BatchSize: The maximum number of messages to archive for each check (default: 100)

  • MinimunAge: The time ellapsed since a message was dispated in hours before it is eligable for archival (default: 24)

Outbox Configuration

Your outbox is configured as part of the Brighter extensions to ServiceCollection. See Outbox Configuration for more.

Outbox Builder

Brighter contains DDL to configure your Outbox. For each supported database we include an OutboxBuilder. The Inbox Builder GetDDL which allows you to obtain the DDL statements required to create an Outbox. You can use this as part of your application start up to configure the Outbox if it does not already exist.

The following example shows creation of a MySql outbox.

We assume that OUTBOX_TABLE_NAME is a constant, shared with the code that configures your inbox.

public static IHost CreateOutbox(this IHost webHost)
	using (var scope = webHost.Services.CreateScope())
	var services = scope.ServiceProvider;
	var env = services.GetService<IWebHostEnvironment>();
	var config = services.GetService<IConfiguration>();

	CreateOutbox(config, env);

	return webHost;

private static void CreateOutbox(IConfiguration config, IWebHostEnvironment env)
	   var connectionString = config.GetConnectionString("Greetings");

	    using var sqlConnection = new MySqlConnection(connectionString);

            using var existsQuery = sqlConnection.CreateCommand();
            existsQuery.CommandText = MySqlOutboxBuilder.GetExistsQuery(OUTBOX_TABLE_NAME);
            bool exists = existsQuery.ExecuteScalar() != null;

            if (exists) return;

            using var command = sqlConnection.CreateCommand();
            command.CommandText = MySqlOutboxBuilder.GetDDL(OUTBOX_TABLE_NAME);

	catch (System.Exception e)
	Console.WriteLine($"Issue with creating Outbox table, {e.Message}");
	//Rethrow, if we can't create the Outbox, shut down

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