Overview of Aggregates

An Aggregate is Domain-driven design (DDD) term coined by Eric Evans. An aggregate is a collection of objects and it represents a concept in your domain, it’s not a container for items. It’s bound together by an Aggregate Root, which upholds the rules (invariants) to keep the aggregate consistent. It encapsulates the domain objects, enforces business rules, and ensures that the aggregate can’t be put into an invalid state.


For example, in the domain of a restaurant, a Kitchen could be an aggregate, where it has domain objects like Chefs, Inventory and Menu and an operation PrepareDish.

The kitchen would make sure that:

  • A Dish has to be on the Menu for it to be ordered
  • The Inventory needs to have enough ingredients to make the Dish
  • The Dish gets assigned to an available Chef

Here’s a simple C#ish example of what this aggregate root could look like:

public class Kitchen
    Chefs _chefs;
    Inventory _inventory;
    Menu _menu;

    public void PrepareDish(Dish dish)
        if (!_menu.Contains(dish))
            throw new DishNotOnMenu(dish);
        foreach (var ingredient in dish.ingredients)
            var foundIngredient = _inventory
            if (!foundIngredient)
                throw new IngredientNotInInventory(ingredient);

            if (foundIngredient.Amount < ingredient.Amount)
                throw new InventoryOutOfIngredient(foundIngredient);
        var availableChef = _chefs.GetAvailableChef();
        if (!availableChef)
            throw new NoAvailableChefs();
        availableChef.IsAvailable = false;

Aggregates in Dolittle

With Event Sourcing the aggregates are the key components to enforcing the business rules and the state of domain objects. Dolittle has a concept called AggregateRoot in the Event Store that acts as an aggregate root to the AggregateEvents applied to it. The root holds a reference to all the aggregate events applied to it and it can fetch all of them.

Structure of an AggregateRoot

This is a simplified structure of the main parts of an aggregate root.

AggregateRoot {
    AggregateRootId Guid
    EventSourceId string
    Version int
    AggregateEvents AggregateEvent[] {
        EventSourceId Guid
        AggregateRootId Guid
        // normal Event properties also included

Identifies this specific type of aggregate root. In the kitchen example this would a unique id given to the Kitchen class to identify it from other aggregate roots.


EventSourceId represents the source of the event like a “primary key” in a traditional database. In the kitchen example this would be the unique identifier for each instance of the Kitchen aggregate root.


Version is the position of the next AggregateEvent to be processed. It’s incremented after each AggregateEvent has been applied by the AggregateRoot. This ensures that the root will always apply the events in the correct order.


The list holds the reference ids to the actual AggregateEvent instances that are stored in the Event Log. With this list the root can ask the Runtime to fetch all of the events with matching EventSourceId and AggregateRootId.

Designing aggregates

When building your aggregates, roots and rules, it is helpful to ask yourself these questions:

  • “What is the impact of breaking this rule?"
  • “What happens in the domain if this rule is broken?"
  • “Am I modelling a domain concern or a technical concern?"
  • “Can this rule be broken for a moment or does it need to be enforced immediately?"
  • “Do these rules and domain objects break together or can they be split into another aggregate?"

Further reading