"I have a mind like a steel... uh... thingy." Patrick Logan's weblog.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Left Field

This will take some digesting to grok...

"If the Java Content Repository (JCR) API expert group's vision bears out, in five or ten years' time we will all program to repositories, not databases, according to David Nuescheler, CTO of Day Software [4], and JSR 170 spec lead. Repositories are an outgrowth of many years of data management research, and are best understood as fancy object stores especially suited to today's applications."
John Dougan comments...
My goodness, that data model reminds me of RDF. Is there a database/datamodel equivalent to Greenspun's 10th Law?
Interesting comparison to think about. For the sake of argument more than having made any real deep theory, I have previously wondered aloud whether there are a small number of common data persistence patterns.

6 comments:

JanC said...

Of course those 'repositories' are just another type of database...

kwindla said...

Many of us already do "program to repositories," although -- as janc notes -- it's tough to get relational databases completely out of the loop. In fact, until we have something better with which to replace them (a problem that the JCR folks seem to be punting on), relational databases will remain somewhere at the bottom of any repository stack that aims to be both flexible and scalable.

We've been working on (and using in production systems) XML::Comma for six years, and except for being in Perl, it's pretty similar to what the JCR project looks to be trying to standardize (laugh). It's also stable, useful, and -- like all labors of love in this vein -- does about 10% of what we imagine it could do.

For Comma, we try to use the filesystem for what it's good at, and the database for what it's good at. You don't have to know much (if any) SQL, but of course the abstractions are leaky, so scaling anything complex up to, say, a few million (web) users a day requires lots of thinking about how your programmatic 'store()s', 'get_iterator()s' bottom out at the RDBMS layer.

John Dougan said...

My goodness, that data model reminds me of RDF. Is there a database/datamodel equivalent to Greenspun's 10th Law?

Curt Sampson said...

Admittedly, the alleged RDBMSes we have today are pretty crappy implementations of the relational model (in large part due to SQL being a monstrosity--it's the PHP version 3 of the relational world), but the relational model works pretty well, which is why even SQL DBMSes replaced the hierarchical and network models decades ago.

Unfortunately, OO programmers never quite understood what was going on, and continued to use a navigation-based model for internal storage, which inevitably lead to calls to move DBMSes back to a network model. Blech.

Next time you find yourself building a tree or a hash table, ask yourself why you need to do this. The relational guys never do; they just tell the DBMS "find this," and get what they want.

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.