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From Nick North <>
Subject Re: Why does CouchDb need attachment length?
Date Sat, 16 Nov 2013 21:31:50 GMT
One more thought before I leave off for the moment. Although this endpoint was built for the
replicator, it is very useful for other clients, as it is the only way to submit a document
and its attachments in a single action. This is important if you're not allowed to update
documents or if you want to guarantee that readers of documents in the database and its replicas
never see a partial set of the document and its attachments. This use case suggests to me
that the endpoint should be easy to use for everyone, if that can be done without harming
replication. But the chunking business means I need to think some more before making a proposal
on it.


> On 16 Nov 2013, at 18:57, Robert Newson <> wrote:
> Ah, no. Http requires either content length or a chunked encoding. We could
> certainly enhance this. My point was that this endpoint was built for the
> replicator.
>> On 16 Nov 2013 18:54, "Nick North" <> wrote:
>> Thanks for the quick reply. I see what you're saying, though it still
>> seems to me that CouchDb could accept incoming non-chunked requests where
>> individual attachments do not have their lengths specified. They could be
>> calculated on receipt and kept for use in replication. That would make use
>> of client libraries like the Apache Java HttpClient easier. But maybe my
>> lack of detailed knowledge of HTTP is showing.
>> Nick
>>> On 16 Nov 2013, at 18:24, Robert Newson <> wrote:
>>> Because we haven't written the code to handle multipart/related
>>> responses where each item is also a chunked response, and we haven't
>>> done that because the replicator could always form a non-chunked
>>> request since it already knows the sizes.
>>> B.
>>>> On 16 November 2013 18:11, Nick North <> wrote:
>>>> I'm working with CouchDb documents with multiple attachments, submitted
>>>> using MIME multipart/related requests. In this case the document JSON
>> has
>>>> to have an "_attachments" property specifying each attachment's name,
>>>> content type and length as described
>>>> here<
>>>> The document and attachments are MIME-encoded and submitted in a single
>>>> request.
>>>> Although this works, programming it is awkward as each attachment's
>> length
>>>> must be known in advance in order to populate the _attachments property.
>>>> Attachments are often in the form of streams, and finding the length
>> means
>>>> having to read through the whole stream. Then you have to spool through
>> the
>>>> stream again when submitting the HTTP request. (In some languages I
>> suspect
>>>> the only way to do this is to buffer the entire stream contents in
>> memory.)
>>>> If the length did not have to be put into the initial JSON object, then
>> the
>>>> stream could just be passed straight through to the HTTP request with no
>>>> need for reading twice or buffering in memory.
>>>> So my question is: why does CouchDb require the length to be supplied?
>> It's
>>>> definitely necessary as I've tried giving the wrong length, or no
>> length at
>>>> all, and that causes the request to fail. But a quick look at the Erlang
>>>> source suggests that the length is not used when parsing the request,
>> and
>>>> presumably that parsing process could calculate each attachment's length
>>>> for use later on if it's needed.
>>>> If, in principle, the length could be dropped when submitting requests,
>>>> then I'd be interested in trying to modify the code to make that
>> possible.
>>>> But, if there is a good reason why it has to be supplied, then I don't
>> want
>>>> to waste time working out what's going on in the Erlang. So any advice
>> on
>>>> why attachments were designed as they are would be very welcome. Many
>>>> thanks,
>>>> Nick

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