This article is some extra thoughts I had on api structure after reading Derek Comartin.

Asides from the benefits that Derek mentions (no fat repositories, thin controllers), there are a number of other advantages that this style of architecture brings.

Ease of Testing

By using Command and Queries, you end up with some very useful seams for writing tests.

For controllers

With controllers, you typically use Dependency injection to provide an instance of IMediator:

public class AddressController : ApiController
    private readonly IMediator _mediator;

    public AddressController(IMediator mediator)
        _mediator = mediator;

    public IEnumerable<Address> Get()
        return _mediator.Send(new GetAllAddressesQuery(User));

You can now test the controller’s actions return as you expect:

public void When_requesting_all_addresses()
  var mediator = Substitute.For<IMediator>();
  var controller = new AddressController(mediator);
  controller.User = Substitute.For<IPrincipal>();

  var result = controller.Get();

      .Send(Arg.Is<GetAllAddressesQuery>(q => q.User == controller.User));

This is also useful when doing integration tests, as you can use Microsoft.Owin.Testing.TestApp to test that all the serialization, content negotiation etc works correctly, and still use a substituted mediator so you have known values to test with:

public async void Addresses_get_should_return_an_empty_json_array()
    var mediator = Substitute.For<IMediator>();

    var server = TestServer.Create(app =>
        var api = new Startup(mediator);

    var response = await _server
        .AddHeader("content-type", "application/json")

    var json = await response.Content.ReadAsStringAsync();


For Handlers

Handler are now isolated from the front end of your application, which means testing is a simple matter of creating an instance, passing in a message, and checking the result. For example the GetAllAddressesQuery handler could be implemented like so:

public class GetAllAddressesQueryHandler : IRequestHandler<GetAllAddressesQuery, IEnumerable<Address>>
    public IEnumerable<Address> Handle(GetAllAddressesQuery message)
        if (message.User == null)
            return Enumerable.Empty<Address>();

        return [] {
            new Address { Line1 = "34 Home Road", PostCode = "BY2 9AX" }

And a test might look like this:

public void When_no_user_is_specified()
    var handler = new GetAllAddressesQueryHandler();
    var result = handler.Handle(new GetAllAddressesQuery());


Multiple Front Ends

The next advantage of using Commmands and Queries is that you can support multiple frontends without code duplication. This ties in very nicely with a Hexagonal architecture. For example, one of my current projects has a set of commands and queries, which are used by a WebApi, and WebSocket connector, and a RabbitMQ adaptor.

This sample also makes use of RabbitHarness, which provides a small interface for easy sending, listening and querying of queues and exchanges.

public RabbitMqConnector(IMediator mediator, IRabbitConnector connector) {
    _mediator = mediator;
    _connector = connector;

    _connector.ListenTo(new QueueDefinition { Name = "AddressQueries" }, OnMessage);

private bool OnMessage(IBasicProperties props, GetAllAddressesQuery message)
    //in this case, the message sent to RabbitMQ matches the query structure
    var addresses = _mediator.Send(message);

        new QueueDefinition { Name = props.ReplyTo },
        replyProps => replyProps.CorrelationID = props.CorrelationID,

Vertical Slicing

This a soft-advantage of Commands and Queries I have found - you can have many more developers working in parallel on a project adding commands and queries etc, before you start treading on each others toes…and the only painful part is all the *.csproj merges you need to do! Your mileage may vary on this one!


In a large project, you can end up with a lot of extra classes, which can be daunting at first - one of my current projects has around 60 IRequest and IRequestHandler implementations. As long as you follow a good naming convention, or sort them in to namespaces, it is not that much of a problem.


Overall I like this pattern a lot - especially as it makes transitioning towards EventSourcing and/or full CQRS much easier.

How about you? What are your thoughts and experiences on this?