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Version: june-2022

Booking Saga Tutorial in PHP

The Project

Imagine that we provide a service where people can book a trip. Booking a regular trip often consists of several steps:

  • Booking a car.
  • Booking a hotel.
  • Booking a flight.

The customer either wants everything to be booked or nothing at all. There is no sense in booking a hotel without booking a plane. Also, imagine that each booking step in this transaction is represented via a dedicated service or microservice.

Thus, we may consider the whole thing, all these steps as a distributed transaction that crosses multiple services and databases. To ensure a successful booking, all three microservices must complete the individual local transactions. If any of the steps fail, all the completed preceding transactions should be reversed accordingly. We cannot simply "delete" the prior transactions or "go back in time" - Particularly where money and bookings are concerned, it is important to have an immutable record of attempts and failures.

Therefore, we should accumulate a list of compensating actions to execute when failure occurs.

Saga Architecture Pattern

Managing distributed transactions can be difficult to do well. Sagas are one of the most tried and tested design patterns for long running work:

  • A Saga provides transaction management using a sequence of local transactions.
  • A local transaction is the unit of work performed by a saga participant, a microservice.
  • Every operation that is part of the Saga can be rolled back by a compensating transaction.
  • The Saga pattern guarantees that either all operations are completed successfully or the corresponding compensation transactions are run to undo the previously completed work.

Implementing the Saga pattern can be complex, but fortunately, Temporal provides native support for the Saga pattern. It means that handling all the rollbacks and running compensation transactions are performed internally by Temporal.

Booking saga flow

The above diagram shows how to visualize the Saga pattern for the previously discussed online trip booking scenario.

Workflow Implementation

The first thing we need to do is to write a business process - the high-level flow of the trip booking. Let's call it TripBookingWorkflow:

class TripBookingWorkflow implements TripBookingWorkflowInterface
{
/** @var \Temporal\Internal\Workflow\ActivityProxy|TripBookingActivitiesInterface */
private $activities;

public function __construct()
{
$this->activities = Workflow::newActivityStub(
TripBookingActivitiesInterface::class,
ActivityOptions::new()->withStartToCloseTimeout(CarbonInterval::hour(1))
);
}

public function bookTrip(string $name)
{

}
}

For simplicity, let's assume that all booking services (car, hotel, and flight) are managed under one single activity TripBookingActivitiesInterface. But it is not a requirement. Ok, now we need to tell Temporal that we are going to use Saga.

Saga Orchestration Pattern

There are two implementations of Saga Pattern: Choreography and Orchestration. The first one is based on events where each microservice that is part of the transaction publishes an event that is processed by the next microservice. Temporal uses Orchestration Pattern. In the Orchestration pattern, a single orchestrator is responsible for managing the overall transaction status. If any of the microservice encounters a failure, then the orchestrator is responsible for invoking the necessary compensating transactions. Temporal plays the role of such an orchestrator.

Writing the Saga

class TripBookingWorkflow implements TripBookingWorkflowInterface
{
// ...

public function bookTrip(string $name)
{
$saga = new Workflow\Saga();

try {

} catch (\Throwable $e) {

}
}
}

We start with a new object Workflow\Saga, and then stub out an empty try/catch block.

Consider everything inside try as a happy path. If some steps within a distributed transaction fail, we go into catch block and run compensations.

Now, let's fill our saga with some logic. First, we add booking steps:

public function bookTrip(string $name)
{
$saga = new Workflow\Saga();

try {
$carReservationID = yield $this->activities->reserveCar($name);
$hotelReservationID = yield $this->activities->bookHotel($name);
$flightReservationID = yield $this->activities->bookFlight($name);

return [
'car' => $carReservationID,
'hotel' => $hotelReservationID,
'flight' => $flightReservationID
];
} catch (\Throwable $e) {

}
}

Adding Compensations

In the snippet above, we sequentially reserve a car, a hotel, and a flight. Each step here returns a corresponding ID. Later we will use this ID to make compensations:

public function bookTrip(string $name)
{
$saga = new Workflow\Saga();

try {
$carReservationID = yield $this->activities->reserveCar($name);
$saga->addCompensation(fn() => yield $this->activities->cancelCar($carReservationID, $name));

$hotelReservationID = yield $this->activities->bookHotel($name);
$saga->addCompensation(fn() => yield $this->activities->cancelHotel($hotelReservationID, $name));

$flightReservationID = yield $this->activities->bookFlight($name);
$saga->addCompensation(fn() => yield $this->activities->cancelFlight($flightReservationID, $name));

return [
'car' => $carReservationID,
'hotel' => $hotelReservationID,
'flight' => $flightReservationID
];
} catch (\Throwable $e) {

}
}

To add a compensation, we use Saga::addCompensation() method and provide a callable that should be used, once we want to roll back a distributed transaction.

Running the compensation strategy

Having that, we can finish our saga and fill catch block:

public function bookTrip(string $name)
{
$saga = new Workflow\Saga();

try {
$carReservationID = yield $this->activities->reserveCar($name);
$saga->addCompensation(fn() => yield $this->activities->cancelCar($carReservationID, $name));

$hotelReservationID = yield $this->activities->bookHotel($name);
$saga->addCompensation(fn() => yield $this->activities->cancelHotel($hotelReservationID, $name));

$flightReservationID = yield $this->activities->bookFlight($name);
$saga->addCompensation(fn() => yield $this->activities->cancelFlight($flightReservationID, $name));

return [
'car' => $carReservationID,
'hotel' => $hotelReservationID,
'flight' => $flightReservationID
];
} catch (\Throwable $e) {
yield $saga->compensate();
throw $e;
}
}

Inside catch() we call the compensate() method, which starts the compensation strategy and runs all previously registered compensation callbacks. Once done, we rethrow the exception to understand what happened.

By default, compensations will run sequentially. You can tell Saga to run them in parallel by calling $saga->setParallelCompensation(true).

Conclusion

In this tutorial, we covered the Saga architecture pattern to implement distributed transactions in a microservice-based application. Writing Sagas correctly can be complex - Temporal allows us to focus only on application details. All the hard work with Saga orchestration: calling microservices and invoking the necessary compensating transactions - is managed by Temporal.

Working example

We don't cover activity implementation details in this tutorial. Activities may be written in different languages, and the main Saga workflow doesn't depend on them. If you want to test things you can find a fully working example in our Booking Saga Workflow repo.