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What are projections?

Projections is a subsystem in Event Store that provides the user with the ability to write new or link existing events to streams in a reactive manner.

Projections require the event body to be in JSON.

When to use projections?

Projections are very good at solving one specific type of query. This type of query happens more often than you may think in business systems and very few systems can execute these queries well. The queries fall into a category known as temporal correlation queries.

Business Cases

I am looking for how users on twitter said “happy” within 5 minutes of the word “foo coffee shop” and within 2 minutes of saying “london”.

While a simple and frankly stupid case this is the type of query that projections can solve simply and cleanly. Let’s try a real business problem.

As a medical research doctor I want to find people that were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer within the last year. During their treatment they should not have had any proxies for a heart condition such as aspirin given every morning. Within three weeks of their diagnosis they should have been put on treatment X. Within one month after starting the treatment they should have failed with a lab result that looks like L1. Within another six weeks they should have been been put on treatment Y and within four weeks failed that treatment with a lab result that looks like L2.

This is a common type of query that exists in many industries and is the exact case that projections work very well as a query model for.

Projections can also be used in nearly all examples of near-real time Complex Event Processing. There are a huge number of problems that fit into this category from monitoring of temperature sensors in a data center to reacting to changes in the stock market.

It is important to remember the types of problems that projections are intended to solve. Many problems are not a good fit with the projections library and will be better served by hosting another read model that is populated by a Catchup Subscription

Continuous Querying

Projections also support the concept of continuous queries. When running a projection you can choose whether the query should run and give you all results currently present or whether the query should continue running into the future finding new results as they happen and updating its result set.

As an example in the medical example above the doctor could leave his query running and be notified of any new patients that happened to meet the criteria that he was searching for. The output of all queries is a stream, this stream can then be listened to like any other stream.

Types of Projections

There are 2 types of projections, there are built in (system) projections which are written in C# and then there are javascript projections which you can create via the API or the admin UI.

Event Store docs are hosted on GitHub. The repository is public and it’s open to issues and pull requests. Contributions, corrections and feedback are all welcome.