This chapter will cover the basics on how to implement an 'Aggregate'. For more details on what an Aggregate is read the DDD and CQRS concepts page.

Basic Aggregate Structure

An Aggregate is a regular object, which contains state and methods to alter that state. When creating the Aggregate object, you are effectively creating the 'Aggregate Root', typically carrying the name of the entire Aggregate. For the purpose of this description the 'Gift Card' domain will be used, which brings us the GiftCard as the Aggregate (Root). By default, Axon will configure your Aggregate as an 'Event Sourced' Aggregate (as described here). Henceforth our basic GiftCard Aggregate structure will focus on the Event Sourcing approach:

import org.axonframework.commandhandling.CommandHandler;
import org.axonframework.eventsourcing.EventSourcingHandler;
import org.axonframework.modelling.command.AggregateIdentifier;
import static org.axonframework.modelling.command.AggregateLifecycle.apply;
public class GiftCard {
@AggregateIdentifier // 1.
private String id;
@CommandHandler // 2.
public GiftCard(IssueCardCommand cmd) {
// 3.
apply(new CardIssuedEvent(cmd.getCardId(), cmd.getAmount()));
@EventSourcingHandler // 4.
public void on(CardIssuedEvent evt) {
id = evt.getCardId();
// 5.
protected GiftCard() {
// omitted command handlers and event sourcing handlers

There are a couple of noteworthy concepts from the given code snippets, marked with numbered Java comments referring to the following bullets:

  1. The @AggregateIdentifier is the external reference point to into the GiftCard Aggregate. This field is a hard requirement, as without it Axon will not know to which Aggregate a given Command is targeted. Note that this annotation can be placed on a field and a method.

  2. A @CommandHandler annotated constructor, or differently put the 'command handling constructor'.

    This annotation tells the framework that the given constructor is capable of handling the IssueCardCommand.

    The @CommandHandler annotated functions are the place where you would put your decision-making/business logic.

  3. The static AggregateLifecycle#apply(Object...) is what is used when an Event Message should be published.

    Upon calling this function the provided Objects will be published as EventMessages within the scope of the Aggregate they are applied in.

  4. Using the @EventSourcingHandler is what tells the framework that the annotated function should be called when the Aggregate is 'sourced from its events'.

    As all the Event Sourcing Handlers combined will form the Aggregate, this is where all the state changes happen.

    Note that the Aggregate Identifier must be set in the @EventSourcingHandler of the very first Event published by the aggregate.

    This is usually the creation event. Lastly, @EventSourcingHandler annotated functions are resolved using specific rules.

    These rules are the same for the @EventHandler annotated methods, and are thoroughly explained in Annotated Event Handler.

  5. A no-arg constructor, which is required by Axon.

    Axon Framework uses this constructor to create an empty aggregate instance before initializing it using past Events.

    Failure to provide this constructor will result in an exception when loading the Aggregate.

Modifiers for Message Handling functions

Event Handler methods may be private, as long as the security settings of the JVM allow the Axon Framework to change the accessibility of the method. This allows you to clearly separate the public API of your Aggregate, which exposes the methods that generate events, from the internal logic, which processes the events.

Most IDE's have an option to ignore "unused private method" warnings for methods with a specific annotation. Alternatively, you can add an @SuppressWarnings("UnusedDeclaration") annotation to the method to make sure you do not accidentally delete an event handler method.

Aggregate Lifecycle Operations

There are a couple of operations which are desirable to be performed whilst in the life cycle of an Aggregate. To that end, the AggregateLifecycle class in Axon provides a couple of static functions:

  1. apply(Object) and apply(Object, MetaData): The AggregateLifecycle#apply will publish an Event message on an EventBus such that it is known to have originated from the Aggregate executing the operation.

    There is the possibility to provide just the Event Object or both the Event and some specific MetaData.

  2. createNew(Class, Callable): Instantiate a new Aggregate as a result of handling a Command.

    Read this for more details on this.

  3. isLive(): Check to verify whether the Aggregate is in a 'live' state.

    An Aggregate is regarded to be 'live' if it has finished replaying historic events to recreate it's state.

    If the Aggregate is thus in the process of being event sourced, an AggregateLifecycle.isLive() call would return false.

    Using this isLive() method, you can perform activity that should only be done when handling newly generated events.

  4. markDeleted(): Will mark the Aggregate instance calling the function as being 'deleted'.

    Useful if the domain specifies a given Aggregate can be removed/deleted/closed, after which it should no longer be allowed to handle any Commands.

    This function should be called from an @EventSourcingHandler annotated function to ensure that being marked deleted is part of that Aggregate's state.