Messages, Events and Commands

Component: NServiceBus
NuGet Package NServiceBus (4.x)
Standard support for version 4.x of NServiceBus has expired. For more information see our Support Policy.

A Message is the unit of communication for NServiceBus. There are two sub-types of messages that capture more of the intent and help NServiceBus enforce messaging best practices. This enforcement is enabled by default unless disabled in configuration.

Messages must be classes. Using structs will generate exceptions at runtime when attempting to send.


Used to request that an action should be taken. A Command is intended to be sent to a receiver (all commands should have one logical owner and should be sent to the endpoint responsible for processing). As such, commands:

  • Are not allowed to be published.
  • Cannot be subscribed to or unsubscribed from.
  • Cannot implement IEvent.


Used to communicate that some action has taken place. An Event should be published. An event:

  • Can be subscribed to and unsubscribed from.
  • Cannot be sent using Send() (since all events should be published).
  • Cannot implement ICommand.
  • Cannot be sent using the gateway, i.e. SendToSites().
For reply messages in a request and response pattern, use IMessage since these replies are neither a Command nor an Event.

Validation Messages

There are checks in place to ensure following of the best practices. While violating above rules the following exceptions can be seen:

  • "Pub/Sub is not supported for Commands. They should be sent direct to their logical owner." - this exception is being thrown when attempting to publish a Command or subscribe to/unsubscribe from a Command.
  • "Events can have multiple recipient so they should be published." - this exception will occur when attempting to use 'Send()' to send an event.
  • "Reply is neither supported for Commands nor Events. Commands should be sent to their logical owner using bus.Send and bus. Events should be Published with bus.Publish." - this exception is thrown when attempting to reply with a Command or an Event.
  • "Reply is not supported for Commands. Commands should be sent to their logical owner using bus.Send and bus." - this exception is thrown when one use reply with a Command.
  • "Reply is not supported for Events. Events should be Published with bus.Publish." - this exception will occur when one tries to use reply with an Event.

Defining Messages

Messages can be defined via interfaces or via conventions.


The simplest way to define a message is to use interfaces.

  • NServiceBus.IMessage for defining a Message.
  • NServiceBus.ICommand for defining a Command.
  • NServiceBus.IEvent for defining an Event.
public class MyMessage : IMessage { }

public class MyCommand : ICommand { }

public class MyEvent : IEvent { }

public interface MyEvent : IEvent { }


Conventions are described in the dedicated Conventions article.

Designing Messages

Messages represent data contract between the endpoints. When creating messages one should follow the following guidelines:

  • Messages should be simple POCO objects.
  • Messages should be as small as possible.
  • Messages should satisfy a Single Responsibility Principle. Classes used for other purposes (e.g. domain objects, data access objects and UI binding objects) should not be used as messages.

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