[TransWarp] Re: [ZODB-Dev] SQL/ZODB integration (was Re: ZODB and new styleclasses?)

Shane Hathaway shane at zope.com
Mon Jul 1 15:20:20 EDT 2002

On Mon, 1 Jul 2002, Phillip J. Eby wrote:

> I would be very interested in seeing it, but won't be at OSCON.  Any chance
> of you posting a copy somewhere?

I've posted a snapshot at:


Look mostly at the "Base" package.  The "ZMI" package is essentially a
Zope 2 UI on top of the base concepts, along with some implementation that
ought to be factored out.  There is a lot to explain, but it takes time to
explain things, as you're well aware. :-)  I hope you can make some sense
out of it.  I plan to have a lot more written by the conference, so people
who get interested because of the presentation will have somewhere to go.

> >Don't slow down on my account, though.  You have ideas I can use, and
> >maybe I have a few of my own.  I was impressed by the notion that you
> >may be building the Python equivalent of J2EE.  And you've written a lot
> >more words (English words ;-) ) than I have.
> Well, it won't be a complete J2EE replacement.  The application server and
> JSP-equivalent parts of PEAK will be Zope 3 and PageTemplates!  But we have
> a partial JNDI replacement basically up and running, along with module
> inheritance, a JavaBeans-like structural framework for domain level
> objects, and an awful lot of component binding tools (that are used to
> "wire" components together in explicit and semi-implicit fashions).  The
> storage and deployment packages are the big unwritten zones at present, but
> my "day job" is entering a project phase where I need all this stuff to
> work Real Soon Now, so I'll be putting in a lot more day cycles on PEAK,
> and I expect Ty will be as well, and maybe even our new developer that's
> starting this week, at least once she learns Python.  :)

That's a nice feature of Python, isn't it? ;-)

> But back on topic, what ideas did you find useful, and what ideas do you
> think you would add to what I've explained thus far on the TW list?

There's a lot to read.  I'll go back over it again sometime soon and take

> >The latest thing I'm trying to work out is conflict detection.  Make
> >sure you have some kind of answer for that.  If the Python app fetches
> >some objects from the database, then an external application writes to
> >the database, then the Python app tries to persist some changes that
> >would conflict with the external application's changes, a ConflictError
> >must be raised.  My current implementation ignorantly stomps on the
> >other app's changes. :-)
> By default, so does mine.  But the framework specifies a place to check for
> ConflictErrors, in the save() method of a jar.  If the DB schema includes
> an update timestamp, this is straightforward.  If not, then you have to
> keep around a record of what you loaded.  Either way, you can implement
> this in a reasonably straightforward manner, and I might even automate the
> "compare to what you loaded" approach once I get to developing SQL-specific
> data managers.  (Note that the "compare to what you loaded" approach
> doesn't work for long-running transactions, since what you most recently
> loaded is not necessarily what was loaded when the user started editing.
> That kind of checking has to be done at the application level.)
> Side note: ZODB transactions aren't necessarily 100% serializable in any
> event; it's not enough to check that something you changed wasn't changed
> by someone else.  Technically, anything you *access* in the current
> transaction that was read in during a previous transaction, but whose saved
> state changed in the meantime, results in an inconsistent transaction if
> you used that information to decide what to write!
> Unfortunately, there is not a good mechanism in the current ZODB
> architecture to allow detecting this condition, as there is no list of
> "objects accessed but not loaded in this transaction" nor a way to generate
> one.

Yes, I've thought about that myself.  The architecture tends to assume
that transactions are only "write" operations.  I haven't come up with a
good way to implement absolute transactional integrity without sacrificing
a lot of performance.

> Anyway, that's why my framework is biased towards letting the underlying DB
> handle transactions, so really the correct thing is to ensure that a
> transaction is in effect at the DB level and that the reads are part of it.
>  Then the rows are read-locked and other apps are prevented from writing.
> In order for this to work, "volatile" (i.e. non-content, non-metadata)
> records are deactivated at transaction end.  We don't keep them cached
> across transactions, for this reason.

Yes, I've been working with volatile objects also.  (The snapshot has an
attempt at "expiration" rather than volatile objects, but an earlier
version used simple volatile objects, and it worked a lot better.  I'm
going to revert it soon.)

> For the most part, I'm making the overall assumption that "explicit is
> better than implicit" where managing the mappings with external databases
> is concerned, and that it's important for the developer to be able to
> fine-tune such matters as object lifetimes and conflict detection methods
> for the specific situation, if needed.  STASCTAP, in other words.  (Simple
> Things Are Simple, Complex Things Are Possible.)

Words to live by.

BTW, I will be mostly disconnected from the 'net for the next few days.


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