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From Antony Blakey <>
Subject Re: couchdb transactions changes
Date Mon, 09 Feb 2009 06:29:37 GMT

On 09/02/2009, at 4:06 PM, Damien Katz wrote:

> I see the critical problem being with consistent updates of  
> replication. Unless you do it one big transaction, the intermediate  
> replication states of the database are inconsistent, so the target  
> database is unusable during replication.

Absolutely, which is a valid use-case, especially (maybe only if...)  
you can rollback a replication.

> A bulk transaction is limited in how many docs it can handle, so it  
> only works for smallish databases. That alone means MVCC replication  
> isn't useful in the general case.

The current replicator could be made MVCC aware in a conceptually  
simple manner:


     cycle_end = update_seq from the current MVCC state.
     send each replication record to the replication stream until  
update_seq > cycle_end
     send a 'commit point' in the replication stream
     if no records were sent, close the replication stream
     restart this loop from cycle_end + 1

   note that the replication stream will always end with a commit  
point modulo comms failure.


   if not configured for consistent replication, (globally, or on a  
per-request basis)

     do as you currently do, ignoring commit points


     rollback = current MVCC commit point
       apply replication updates until
         end =>
           if updates were applied
         a commit point arrives =>
           rollback = current MVCC commit point

Maybe (and I'm not sure of this) the db could maintain a last-known- 
good (wrt replication) MVCC commit point, so that the decision to  
rollback could be deferred.

> You'll also need to serialize the updates to the database in the  
> application layer and add the conflict checking there. That will  
> give you the desired transaction semantics.

Serializing updates is a very poor alternative to a transactional API,  
and requiring that the application layer do that is awful, because  
there may be multiple independent applications accessing the db.

> If you build what I've described, and assuming you can live with the  
> limitations, you will have a always consistent one-way replication  
> document distribution platform.

With a user-level transactional API e.g. expose the MVCC commit, and  
the simple (on the source side) replication change, this is also  
possible without requiring work in the application layer, and with IMO  
a considerably wider coverage of the use-cases.

Once again, modulo the cluster-ACID issue.

Antony Blakey
CTO, Linkuistics Pty Ltd
Ph: 0438 840 787

Borrow money from pessimists - they don't expect it back.
   -- Steven Wright

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