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Published November 15, 2022

Commands & Events: What’s the difference?

Commands & Events: What’s the difference?

One of the building blocks of messaging is, you guessed it, messages! But there are different kinds of messages: Commands and Events. So, what’s the difference? Well, they have very distinct purposes, usage, naming, ownership, and more!


The purpose of commands is the intent to invoke behavior. When you want something to happen within your system, you send a command. There is some type of capability your service provides, and you need a way to expose that. That’s done through a command.

I didn’t mention CRUD. While you can expose Create, Update, and Delete operations through commands, I’m more referring to specific behaviors you want to invoke within your service. Let CRUD just be CRUD.

Commands have two parts. The first is the actual message (the command), which is the request and intent to invoke the behavior. The second is consumer/handler for that command which is performing and executing the behavior requested.

Commands have only a single consumer/handler that resides in the same logical boundary that defines and owns the schema and definition command.

Commands can be sent from many different logical boundaries. There can be many different senders.

To illustrate this, the diagram below has many different senders, which can be different logical boundaries. The command (message) is being sent to a queue to decouple the sender and consumer.

Commands & Events: What's the difference?

A single consumer/handler, that owns the command, will receive/pull the message from the queue.

When processing the message, it may interact with its database, as an example.

Commands & Events: What's the difference?

As mentioned, there can be many senders, so we could have a completely different logical boundary also sending the same command to the queue, which will be processed the same way by the consumer/handler.

Lastly, naming is important. Since a command is the intent to invoke behavior, you want to represent it by a verb and often a noun. Examples are PlaceOrder, ReceiveShipment, AdjustInventory, and InvoiceCustomer. Again, notice I’m not calling these commands CreateOrder, UpdateProduct, etc. These are specific behaviors that are related to actual business concepts within a domain.


Events are about telling other parts of your system about the fact that something occurred within a service boundary. Something happened. Generally, an event can be the result of the completion of a command.

Events have two parts. The first is the actual message (the event), which is the notification that something occurred. The second is the consumer/handler for that event which is going to react and execute something based on that event occurring.

There is only one logical boundary that owns the schema and publishes an event.

Event consumers can live within many different logical boundaries. There may not be a consumer for an event at all. Meaning there can be zero or many different consumers.

To illustrate, the single publisher that owns the event will create and publish it to a Topic on a Message Broker.

Commands & Events: What's the difference?

That event will then be received by both consumers. Each consumer will receive a copy of the event and be able to execute independently in isolation from each other. This means that if one consumer fails, it will not affect the other.

Commands & Events: What's the difference?

Naming is important. Events are facts that something happened. They should be named in the past tense which reflects what occurred. Examples are OrderPlaced, ShipmentReceived, InventoryAdjusted, and PaymentProcessed. These are the result of specific business concepts.

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