Message History

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One of key benefits of a message-based systems is the loose coupling between participants; the message sender and recipient make no (or few) assumptions about each other's identity. If a message recipient retrieves a message from a message channel, it generally does not know nor care which application put the message on the channel. The message is by definition self-contained and is not associated with a specific sender. This is one of the architectural strengths of message-based systems.

However, the same property can make debugging and analyzing dependencies very difficult. If we are not sure where a message goes, how can we assess the impact of a change in the message format? Likewise, if we don't know which application published a message it is difficult to correct a problem with the message.

How can we effectively analyze and debug the flow of messages in a loosely coupled system?

Therefore, attach a Message History to the message. The Message History is a list of all applications that the message passed through since its origination.

The Message History maintains a list of all components that the message passed through. Every component that processes the message (including the originator) adds one entry to the list. The Message History should be part of the message header because it contains system-specific control information. Keeping this information in the header separates it from the message body that contains application specific data.


Related patterns: Aggregator, Control Bus, Message Router, Message Store, Process Manager, Publish-Subscribe Channel, Recipient List

Enterprise Integration Patterns Find the full description of this pattern in:
Enterprise Integration Patterns
Gregor Hohpe and Bobby Woolf
ISBN 0321200683
650 pages
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