Subscription base

How Eventuous subscriptions work

The base abstract class for subscriptions is the IMessageSubscription interface, but all the available subscriptions are based on the EventSubscription base class, which is a generic abstract class where its type parameter is the subscription options type. All the provided subscription options types inherit from the SubscriptionOptions base class.

The SubscriptionOptions base class has three properties:

  • SubscriptionId: a unique identifier for the subscription
  • ThrowOnError: a boolean indicating whether the subscription should throw an exception if an error occurs. When the subscription throws, it either NACKs the message, or stops the subscription depending on the implementation.
  • EventSerializer: an instance of the IEventSerializer interface, which is used to serialize and deserialize events. If not provided, the default serializer is used.

Each provided subscription options type has more options, which depend on the subscription implementation details.

To host a subscription and manage its lifecycle, Eventuous has a hosted service called SubscriptionHostedService. Each registered subscription gets its own hosted service, so that each subscription can be managed independently. When using Eventuous subscription registration extensions for the DI container, the hosted service is registered automatically.

You’d normally use the DI container to register subscriptions with all the necessary handlers (described below).

Event handlers

As mentioned on the Concept page, one subscription might serve multiple event handlers, such as projections. It is especially relevant to keep a group of projections in sync, so they don’t produce inconsistent read models.

Each subscription service gets a list of event handlers. An event handler must implement the IEventHandler interface, which has two members:

public interface IEventHandler {
    string DiagnosticName { get; }
    ValueTask<EventHandlingStatus> HandleEvent(IMessageConsumeContext context);

The HandleEvent function will be called by the subscription service for each event it receives. The event is already deserialized. The function also gets the event position in the stream. It might be used in projections to set some property of the read model. Using this property in queries will tell you if the projection is up-to-date.

The diagnostic name of the handler is used to distinguish logs in traces coming from a subscription per individual handler.

Normally Eventuous uses either the BaseEventHandler abstract base class. For specific implementations, you’d either use a built-in handler provided by a projection (like MongoDB projection), or the EventHandler abstract base class.

Consume context

The subscription will invoke all its event handlers at once for each event received. Instead of just getting the event, the handler will get an instance of the message context (IMessageConsumeContext interface). The context contains the payload (event or other message) in its Message property, which has the type object?. It’s possible to handle each event type differently by using pattern matching:

public ValueTask<EventHandlingStatus> HandleEvent(IMessageConsumeContext ctx) {
    return ctx.Message switch {
        V1.RoomBooked => ...
        _ => EventHandlingStatus.Ignored

However, it’s easier and more explicit to use pre-optimised base handlers. For read model projections you can use [Projections] handlers, described separately. For integration purposes you might want to use the Gateway. For more generic needs, Eventuous offers the EventHandler base class. It allows specifying typed handlers for each of the event types that the handler processes:

public class MyHandler : EventHandler {
    public MyHandler(SmsService smsService) {
        On<RoomBooked>(async ctx => await smsService.Send($"Room {ctx.Message.RoomId} booked!"));

The typed handler will get an instance of MessageConsumeContext<T> where T is the message type. There, you can access the message using the Message property without casting it.

A subscription will invoke a single consumer and give it an instance of the consume context. The consumer’s job is to handle the message by invoking all the registered handlers. By default, Eventuous uses the DefaultConsumer, unless specified otherwise when registering the subscription. The IMessageConsumeContext interface has functions to acknowledge (ACK), not acknowledge (NACK), or ignore the message. The default consumer ACKs the message when all the handlers processed the message without failures, and at least one handler didn’t ignore the message. It NACKs the message if any handler returned an error or crashed. Finally, it will ignore the message if all the handlers ignored it. How the message handling result is processed is unknown to the consumer as this behaviour is transport-specific. Each subscription type has its own way to process the message handling result.

Handling result

The handler needs to return the handling status. It’s preferred to return the error status EventHandlingStatus.Failure instead of throwing an exception. When using the EventHandler base class, if the event handling function throws an exception, the handler will return the failure status and not float the exception back to the subscription.

The status is important for diagnostic purposes. For example, you don’t want to trace event handlers for events that are ignored. That’s why when you don’t want to process the event, you need to return EventHandlingStatus.Ignored. The EventHandler base class will do it automatically if it gets an event that has no registered handler.

When the event is handled successfully (neither failed nor ignored), the handler needs to return EventHandlingStatus.Success. Again, the EventHandler base class will do it automatically if the registered handler doesn’t throw.

The subscription will acknowledge the event only if all of its handlers don’t fail. How subscriptions handle failures depends on the transport type.


As mentioned before, you’d normally register subscriptions using the DI extensions provided by Eventuous:

builder.Services.AddSubscription<StreamSubscription, StreamSubscriptionOptions>(
    builder => builder
        .Configure(x => x.StreamName = PaymentsIntegrationHandler.Stream)

The AddSubscription extension needs two generic arguments: subscription implementation and its options. Every implementation has its own options as the options configure the particular subscription transport.

The first parameter for AddSubscription is the subscription name. It must be unique within the application scope. Eventuous uses the subscription name to separate one subscription from another, along with their options and other things. The subscription name is also used in diagnostics as a tag.

Then, you need to specify how the subscription builds. There are two most used functions in the builder:

  • Configure: allows to change the subscription options
  • AddEventHandler<T>: adds an event handler to the subscription

You can add several handlers to the subscription, and they will always “move” together throw the events stream or topic. If any of the handlers fail, the subscription might fail, so it’s “all or nothing” strategy.

Eventuous uses the consume pipe, where it’s possible to add filters (similar to MassTransit). You won’t need to think about it in most of the cases, but you can read mode in the Pipes and filters section.

Subscription drops

A subscription could drop for different reasons. For example, it fails to pass the keep alive ping to the server due to a transient network failure, or it gets overloaded.

The subscription service handles such drops and issues a resubscribe request, unless the application is shutting down, so the drop is deliberate.

This feature makes the subscription service resilient to transient failures, so it will recover from drops and continue processing events, when possible.

You can configure the subscription to ignore failures and continue by setting ThrowIfError property of SubscriptionOptions to false.

Last modified May 24, 2022: Clarify (4552119)