I promised to still post some general comments about the MySQL ecosystem, to conclude my outlook of State of the MySQL forks and Drizzle. I will do this now in the form of answering questions I got in the comments, twitter and some that I make up just myself.
I got several comments and questions on my previous blog "The State of the MySQL forks". One question was "Why didn't you mention Drizzle?" So I will say something about Drizzle here before concluding with other remarks.
So why didn't you mention Drizzle?
Mainly because the post was already long and also I had to wrap up and call into a meeting.
It's been some time since I last wrote an overview of the state of the MySQL forks, but the last few weeks have been eventful enough that it is a good time to again see how the competing variants are positioned against each other.
I have written on this topic 1-2 times a year. Here are links to the previous overviews:
Map of MySQL forks and branches (2010)
The state of MySQL forks: co-operating without co-operating (2010)
Observations on Drizzle and PostgreSQL
Percona.tv: State of the MySQL ecosystem (2011)
State of the MySQL forks: via a particular example of authentication plugins
As is the case with this post, many of those previous ones coincide with some events or discussion at the time they were written, and the posts contain links to other bloggers commenting on whatever was current then.
A few weeks ago I blogged about the HTTP JSON api in Drizzle. (See also a small demo app using it.) In this post I want to elaborate a little on the design decisions taken. (One reason to do this is to provide a foundation for future work, especially in the form of a GSoC project.)
Looking around: MongoDB, CouchDB, Metabase
This is the second and final part of my notes from the MySQL conference. In this part I'll focus on the technical substance of talks I saw, and didn't see.
More than ever before I was a contributor rather than attendee at this conference. Looking back, this resulted in seeing less talks than I would have wanted to, since I was speaking or preparing to speak myself. Sometimes it was worse than speaking, for instance I spent half a day picking up pewter goblets from an egnravings shop... (congratulations to all the winners again :-) Luckily, I can make up for some of that by going back and browse their slides. This is especially important whenever 2 good talks are scheduled in the same slot, or in the same slot when I was to speak. So I have categorized topics here along various axes, but also along the "things I did see" versus "things I missed" axis.
My own talks
I have finally recovered from my trip to Santa Clara enough that I can scribble down some notes from this year's MySQL Conference. Writing a travel report is part of the deal where my employer covers the travel expense, so even if many people have written about the conference, I need to do it too. And judging from the many posts for instance from Pythian's direction, Nokia is perhaps not the only company with such a policy?
There has usually always been something that can be called a "soft keynote". Pirate Party founder Rick Falckvinge speaking at a database conference is a memorable example (I still keep in touch with him, having met him at the Hyatt Santa Clara). This year there was one less day, and therefore less keynotes. The soft keynote was therefore taken care of by Baron using some time out of Peter's opening keynote. Baron's talk was an ode to the conference itself, underscoring the meaning of the conference beyond just learning about technology. Sharing his own journey from a numb ASP.NET coder ("a good day at the office was when I changed a table based layout to pure CSS ...but nobody else seemed to care.") to his role today, he challenged people to network, make new friends and new revolutionary ideas. To me, it was a great opening keynote (and quite obviously would have made less sense on the last day of the conference). The talk, including Peter's part, is available on Percona.TV.
So yesterday I introduced the newly committed HTTP JSON key-value interface in Drizzle. The next step of course is to create some simple application that would use this to store data, this serves both as an example use case as well as for myself to get the feeling for whether this makes sense as a programming paradigm.
Personally, I have been a fan of the schemaless key-value approach ever since I graduated university and started doing projects with dozens of tables and hundreds of columns in total. Especially in small projects I always found the array structures in languages like PHP and Perl and Python to be very flexible to develop with. As I was developing and realized I need a new variable or new data field somewhere, it was straightforward to just toss a new key-value into the array and continue with writing code. No need to go back and edit some class definition. If I ever needed to find out what is available in some struct, I could always do dump_var($obj) to find out. Even large projects like Drupal get along with this model very well.
The thing I really like with open source is the feeling you get when people just show up from nowhere and do great things to some code you originally wrote. Thanks to this miracle, I can now also present to you version 0.2 of the Drizzle JSON HTTP support, featuring a "pure JSON key-value API" in addition to the original "SQL over HTTP" API in 0.1 version. Let's recap what happened:
- At Drizzle Day 2011, I proposed that Drizzle should make available a JSON NoSQL interface. Stewart took the bait and published json_server 0.1 a week later. This API still uses SQL, it's just that the client protocol is HTTP and JSON, into which the SQL is embedded. So I suppose it's not as sexy as real NoSQL, but pretty cool nevertheless.
- At the end of last Summer I had a lot of dead time so I started playing with Stewart's code to see what I could do. I added a new API in addition to Stewart's SQL-over-HTTP API that supports key-value operations in pure JSON, similar to what you see in CouchDB, MongoDB or Metabase. I got it working quite well, however, I never implemented a DELETE command, because I then drifted off to more important tasks, such as revamping the Drizzle version numbering and bringing DEB and RPM packaging up to date.
- Last week a new but very promising Drizzle hacker called Mohit came by, looking for things he could do. He had already fixed a simple low-hanging-bug and wanted something more. Since he was interested in the JSON API, I asked if he wants to finish the missing piece. With my helpful advice of "there is no documentation but if you look at the demo GUI you'll probably figure it out, then just look at the code for POST and implement DELETE instead". I was afraid that wasn't really helpful, but I was busy that day. No problem, the next day Mohit had pushed working DELETE implementation. The day after that he implemented the final missing piece, a CREATE TABLE functionality. I was both impressed and excited.