Learning NServiceBus

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Over the past two years, I’ve been architecting and building a system, applying design principles I’ve learned over the years doing software architecture at Info Support, and from the excellent “Advanced Distributed Systems Design” course by Udi Dahan. Now, I should say that these are no “one-size-fits-all” design principles; in fact there’s never a one-size-fits-all architecture for anything. But they had a natural fit with the problem domain that we are working on.

The two year timespan stems from the fact that we have been (and are still in the progress of) migrating the system from a classic ASP.NET three tier architecture to a more disconnected and distributed one, using messaging where applicable. This has helped us achieve more flexibility, better separation of concerns and an overall faster system for the end user. We’re not finished yet, as there’s a lot of legacy code left to migrate and all the while, the shop has to stay open, but we’re definitely getting there.

NServiceBus logoOne of the tools and frameworks that have been crucial in this re-architecture is NServiceBus. For those who don’t know NServiceBus, it is a light-weight, very elegant .NET framework, built around the principles of a distributed, service oriented architecture, using messaging. It’s designed by Udi Dahan and his team at Particular Software. In fact, NServiceBus is the direct result of the architectural lessons and experiences Udi has learned, architecting systems for customers over many years.

While NServiceBus is very light-weight, it still has a bit of a learning curve, to really understand the concepts and apply them correctly. Especially if you haven’t done the ADSD course mentioned earlier, some things might seem a bit abstract to a developer at first.

There’s always been documentation on the NServiceBus website, but not always up to date and a bit fragmented to my liking. There’s also the very helpful and thriving NServiceBus community group, where you can ask a great variety of questions to a great bunch of experts. There’s even a great NServiceBus course on PluralSight by Andreas Öhlund. But with NServiceBus 4.0 out, the course material is a bit stale on some of the technical stuff.

What was lacking most was a well structured, easy to follow guide on using and understanding NServiceBus, to be used as a companion when building your application with it. Fortunately, there’s one now: the book “Learning NServiceBus”, written by the awesome David Boike. David is an NServiceBus Champ, a very active contributor in the community forums and an allround knowledgeable software architect.

Learning NServiceBus book coverLearning NServiceBus is a great companion to building applications using NServiceBus, as well as administering and operating those applications. What I like best about the book is that it’s well structured, building up from the most basic “hello world” type scenario to the more complex capabilities, such as Sagas, and error handling & second level retries. All the while, it provides great background info on the architectural considerations behind NServiceBus. David has a pleasant, witty writing style which makes it easy to read. Not your average “dry” software development book, luckily.

You can also download the sample code used throughout the book, but I find it a better learning experience to build the samples from scratch as you read the book.

The book focuses on the all new NServiceBus 4.0 release, containing a bunch of important changes compared to 3.X, which makes it all the more worthwile to check out this book!

My congrats to David Boike on getting the book published. Great work and well recommended! You can get it from the publisher’s website.

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