Batch Queries with Marten

Marten v0.7 was published just under two weeks ago, and one of the shiny new features was the batched query model with let’s say a trial balloon syntax that was shot down pretty fast in the Marten Gitter room (I wasn’t happy with it either). To remedy that, we pushed a new Nuget this morning (v0.7.1) that has a new, streamlined syntax for the batched query and updated the batched query docs to match.

So here’s the problem it tries to solve, say you have an HTTP endpoint that needs to aggregate several different sources of document data into a single, aggregated JSON message back to your web client (this is a common scenario in a large application at my work that is going to be converted to Marten shortly). To speed up that JSON endpoint, you’d like to be able to batch up those queries into a single call to the underlying Postgresql database, but still have an easy way to get at the results of each query later. This is where Marten’s batch query functionality comes in as demonstrated below:

// Start a new IBatchQuery from an active session
var batch = theSession.CreateBatchQuery();

// Fetch a single document by its Id
var user1 = batch.Load<User>("username");

// Fetch multiple documents by their id's
var admins = batch.LoadMany<User>().ById("user2", "user3");

// User-supplied sql
var toms = batch.Query<User>("where first_name == ?", "Tom");

// Query with Linq
var jills = batch.Query<User>().Where(x => x.FirstName == "Jill").ToList();

// Any() queries
var anyBills = batch.Query<User>().Any(x => x.FirstName == "Bill");

// Count() queries
var countJims = batch.Query<User>().Count(x => x.FirstName == "Jim");

// The Batch querying supports First/FirstOrDefault/Single/SingleOrDefault() selectors:
var firstInternal = batch.Query<User>().OrderBy(x => x.LastName).First(x => x.Internal);

// Kick off the batch query
await batch.Execute();

// All of the query mechanisms of the BatchQuery return
// Task's that are completed by the Execute() method above
var internalUser = await firstInternal;
Debug.WriteLine($"The first internal user is {internalUser.FirstName} {internalUser.LastName}");

Using the batch query is a four step process:

  1. Start a new batch query by calling IDocumentSession.CreateBatchQuery()
  2. Define the queries you want to execute by calling the Query() methods on the batch query object. Each query operator returns a Task<T> object that you’ll use later to access the results after the query has completed (under the covers it’s just a TaskCompletionSource).
  3. Execute the entire batch of queries and await the results
  4. Access the results of each query in the batch, either by using the await keyword or Task.Result.


A Note on our Syntax vis a vis RavenDb

You might note that the Marten syntax is quite a bit different syntax-wise and even conceptually to RavenDb’s Lazy Query feature. While we originally started Marten with the idea that we’d stay very close to RavenDb’s API to make the migration effort less difficult, we’re starting to deviate as we see fit. In this particular case, I wanted the API to be more explicit about the contents and lifecycle of the batched query. In other cases like the forthcoming “Include Query” feature, we will probably stay very close to RavenDb’s syntax if we don’t have any better ideas or strong reason to deviate from the existing art.


A Note on “Living” Documentation

I’ve received a lot of criticism over the years for having inadequate, missing, or misleading documentation for the OSS projects I’ve ran. Starting with Storyteller 3.0 and StructureMap 4.0 last year and now Marten this year, I’ve been having some success using Storyteller’s static website generation to author technical documentation in a way that’s been easy to keep code samples and content up to date with changes to the underlying tool. In the case of the batched query syntax from Marten above, the code samples are pulled directly from the acceptance tests for the feature. As soon as I made the changes to the code, I was able to update the documentation online to reflect the new syntax from running a quick script and pushing to the gh-pages branch of the Marten repository. All told, it took me under a minute to refresh the content online.


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