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Introducing CQRS

Summary

A decade ago, DDD started an irreversible, yet slow, process that is progressively changing the way many approach software architecture and development. In particular, DDD had the positive effect of making it clear that a deep understanding of the domain is key. And above everything else, DDD provided the tools for that: a ubiquitous language and bounded context.

Initially, DDD pushed the layered architecture with an object-oriented model as the recommended architecture for a bounded context. Years of experience suggested that a single domain model to handle all aspects of the business logic—specifically, commands and queries—was probably taking the complexity up to a vertical asymptote. From that point, there was an effort in the industry to find a different approach—one that could retain the good parts of DDD while making the implementation simpler and more effective.

CQRS was one of the answers.

CQRS propounds the separation between domain layers and the use of distinct models for reading and writing—a brilliantly simple idea that, however, had a far broader scope than first imagined. CQRS is perfect for highly collaborative systems, but it also can serve well in simpler scenarios if you apply it in a lighter form. That’s a fundamental point and—as we see it—also the source of a lot of confusion.

CQRS is primarily about separating the stack of commands from the stack of queries. Realizing this architectural separation is not necessarily complex or expensive. However, if you take CQRS one or two steps further, it can really deliver a lot of added value in terms of the ability to manage much more business complexity while making your system much easier to scale out. To achieve this, you need to restructure and largely rethink the command and query sides and introduce LET, command buses, handlers, domain and integration events, and (likely) distinct storage for reads and writes. This flavor of architecture is ideal for collaborative systems, but it can be expensive to use in some systems. In the end, full-blown CQRS is a good solution, but not for every problem.