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Service Broker 101 Lesson 2: Service Broker components and how they fit together

May 26, 2020

Last lesson I gave a very quick introduction to Service Broker, and outlined a couple of scenarios where it might be useful. This time I want to talk through the different components that make up Service Broker, how they fit together, and what part they play in sending and managing messages.

There are 4 main components that Service Broker needs you to create in SQL Server:

Message Type

Any message you send will have two components, the message type and the message. The CREATE MESSAGE TYPE syntax allows you to specify a message type, and what constitutes a valid message for that type.

CREATE MESSAGE TYPE [SBE/Example1/MessageType/Outgoing]

In this case, we create a message type of ServiceBrokerExample/Example1/MessageType/Outgoing, that takes a well-formed XML message. Other values for VALIDATION are NONE, where the message can contain anything or be NULL; EMPTY, where there is no message; or VALID_XML WITH SCHEMA COLLECTION schema_collection_name, where the message has to be XML that conforms to the specified schema collection, which must already exist.

SQL Server already has a collection of message types it uses to signal various events, you can find them in the sys.service_message_types.


Queues are the most similar to SQL objects we may be used to. They are also the only Service Broker object to appear in the sys.objects table, and to be owned by schemas. There is also quite a bit to say about them, so I will largely leave them to Lesson 4.


Contracts define the types of conversation that can be had between Queues. Specifically, each contract defines the message types that can be sent by the initiator and target queues. Each message type included in the contract can be sent by the initiator, the target, or both.

CREATE CONTRACT [SBE/Example1/Contract/Complicated]
          [SBE/Example1/MessageType/Outgoing] SENT BY INITIATOR
        , [SBE/Example1/MessageType/Reply] SENT BY TARGET
        , [SBE/Example1/MessageType/Alert] SENT BY TARGET
        , [SBE/Example1/MessageType/Error] SENT BY ANY

In this example, once a conversation has been opened under this contract, the initiator queue (the queue that sent the first message) can send Outgoing or Error message types, and the target queue can send reply, alert, and error messages. Note that once a conversation begins the initiator and target roles are locked for the purposes of that conversation.


A service is the way a conversation connects to a queue. Each service sits above a single queue, although a queue can have multiple services. In order to be the target of a conversation, a service must also specify at least one conversation that can be used to target it.

CREATE SERVICE [SBE/Example1/Service/ServiceTarget]
    ON QUEUE dbo.TargetQueue
        , [SBE/Example1/Contract/Emergency]

CREATE SERVICE [SBE/Example1/Service/ServiceSource]
    ON QUEUE dbo.SourceQueue

CREATE SERVICE [SBE/Example1/Service/ServiceEmergencySource]
    ON QUEUE dbo.EmergencySourceQueue

In this example, the ServiceTarget service allows the TargetQueue to be the target of conversations using the Complicated or Emergency contracts. The ServiceSource service allows the SourceQueue to initiate conversations but not be the target of them, and the ServiceEmergencySource service does the same for the EmergencySourceQueue.

That’s it for this lesson, I know this is probably a little confusing at the moment but next lesson I’ll take us through opening a conversation and sending a message, and at that point things should get a little clearer.

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