This is a follow-up to our last post, “How to Guarantee Delivery of Messages in Akka.NET.” In that post we introduced the AtLeastOnceDeliveryActor and talked about strategies for retrying deliveries of messages in order to make sure they’re successfully procssed.

In this post we’re going to talk about “At Least Once” delivery’s big brother, “Exactly Once” delivery - and why you should try to avoid it if at all possible.

A question we get asked about frequently with Akka.NET is “how can I guarantee that my messages will eventually be received and processed by another actor?” Most of the time it’s developers who work on finance applications who have this question, because each missed message means that someone’s accounting is off - but developers in lots of other domains have this issue too.

After last month’s successful Akka.NET virtual meetup, we’re going to be coming right back with another on on February 29th at 18:00 UTC. RSVP Here.

Update: thanks to everyone who attended! You can view the meetup below!

Petabridge does .NET open source software. One of the great things that’s happening in .NET-land right now is that scores of developers from traditionally more conservative, pure Microsoft stack companies are starting to become not just users of open source software, but also contributors!

Since lots of .NET developers are new to Github, having been previously raised on a steady diet of Perforce and Team Foundation Server, I put this video together illustrating how to do all of the Github workflows used by most major .NET OSS projects.

2016 is going to be a big year for Akka.NET, and we’re starting things off right by hosting our second Akka.NET Virtual Meetup on Tuesday, January 26th @ 18:00UTC. RSVP Here.

Update: thanks to everyone who attended! You can view the meetup below!

Creating Persistent Actors in Akka.NET with Akka.Persistence

How to Create Akka.NET Actors with Durable State

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is about how to create stateful actors that are also durable by default, meaning that the actor can recover its state from some sort of storage engine in the event that the entire Akka.NET process needs to be restarted.

Enter Akka.Persistence - an entire framework built into Akka.NET that’s designed to allow you to create actors with durable state that can be persisted on any database or storage system you want.

In this post we’re going to explore the concepts behind Akka.Persistence, how it works, and what some of the available storage options are.

Not long ago in Akka.NET-land we had an issue occur where users noticed a dramatic drop in throughput in Akka.Remote’s message processing pipeline - and to make matters worse, this occurred in a production release of AKka.NET!

Yikes, how did that happen?

The answer is that although you can use unit tests and code reviews to detect functional problems with code changes and pull requests, using those same mechanisms to detect performance problems with code is utterly ineffective. Even skilled developers who have detailed knowledge about the internals of the .NET framework and CLR are unable to correctly predict how changes to code will impact its performance.

Hence why I developed NBench - a .NET performance-testing, stress-testing, and benchmarking framework for .NET applications that works and feels a lot like a unit test.

How to Unit Test Akka.NET Actors with Akka.TestKit

An Introduction to the Akka.TestKit

In this post we introduce the Akka.TestKit module - a library that makes it easy to unit test Akka.NET actors using all of the popular .NET unit testing frameworks.

A Brief End-to-End Akka.TestKit Example

Before going deep into the TestKit, here’s an end-to-end example of what a test usually looks like.

[TestFixture] //using NUnit
public class UserIdentityActorSpecs : TestKit{

    [Test]
    public void UserIdentityActor_should_confirm_user_creation_success()
    {
        var identity = Sys.ActorOf(Props.Create(() => new UserIdentityActor()));
        identity.Tell(new UserIdentityActor.CreateUserWithValidUserInfo());
        var result = ExpectMsg<UserIdentityActor.OperationResult>().Successful;
        Assert.True(result);
    }

}

80% of your tests will be this simple: create an actor, send it a message, and expect a response back. Let’s explore how to do it.

The concepts in this post were first introduced in a talk at the 2015 Cassandra Summit.

I’ve been a .NET developer for roughly 10 years now - since the summer after my freshman year in college in 2005 I’ve been developing in Visual Studio and .NET. I’ve founded three startups on .NET, worked for Microsoft, and founded multiple successful OSS projects in .NET - I say all of this in evidence to the depth of my commitment and investment in the .NET ecosystem.

But it’s time we, the .NET community, address a major elephant in the room - .NET is, and often has been, way behind in other ecosystems in terms of overall innovation, openness to new ideas, and flexibility.

The Experience of Being a .NET Developer

.NET has been, historically, an expensive ecosystem to play in.

Because to play in it, you have to do so by Microsoft’s rules.

It's Ballmer's World, Bro

  • You have to buy a license for Visual Studio, or more likely, an MSDN subscription.
  • You have to buy a license for Windows Server.
  • You have to buy a license for Windows Server.
  • You have to develop your web applications in a framework built by Microsoft, like ASP.NET or WCF.
  • You have to host your web applications in IIS.

And the list goes on - the point being that our entire way of developing our own products depends on a single company in Redmond choosing what tools it wants to make available to us at any given time and price.

The Impact of Marrying .NET to Microsoft

I want to share with you a little story from a point in my career with Microsoft during 2010-2011. By 2011 HTML5 had become mostly standardized and its...

Stopping an actor is a routine operation that developers often find confusing. This is because each actor is like a micro process, and all interaction with an actor is asynchronous. So shutting down an actor is more complex than stopping entities in procedural code.

In this post, I’m going to review one of the common questions that I’ve heard lately:

How do I stop an actor?!

The Ways of Stopping an Actor

In short, there are three ways to stop an actor:

  1. Stop() the actor: stops the actor immediately after it finishes processing the current message.
  2. Kill the actor: this throws an ActorKilledException which will be logged and handled. The actor will stop immediately after it finishes processing the current message.
  3. Send the actor a PoisonPill: the actor will finish processing the messages currently in its mailbox, and then Stop.

Now let’s go over each in detail.

1) The Default: Stop() an Actor

This is the go-to method to stop an actor, and should be your default approach.

What Happens When I Stop() an Actor?

This is the sequence of events when you Stop() an actor:

  1. Actor receives the Stop message and suspends the actor’s Mailbox.
  2. Actor tells all its children to Stop. Stop messages propagate down the hierarchy below the actor.
  3. Actor waits for all children to stop.
  4. Actor calls PostStop lifecycle hook method for resource cleanup.
  5. Actor shuts down.

The point of this sequence is to make sure that an actor—and any hierarchy beneath it—have a clean shut down.

How Do I Use Stop()?

You Stop() an actor...