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Re: I'll help with db debugging

From: Arved Sandstrom <Arved_37_at_chebucto.ns.ca>
Date: 2001-04-03 00:55:58 CEST

On Tuesday 03 April 2001 00:42, you wrote:
> Arved Sandstrom <Arved_37@chebucto.ns.ca>:
> > Couldn't help throwing in my 1.2 cents Canadian on this one,
> > though. To start with, exactly what is the magical (transparent
> > non-binary) format that will make it _easy_ to detect corruption and
> > recover from same? I can throw out a few guesses, but I won't.
> I don't know what the format should be. If I were designing it, it
> would probably be some sort of XML with auxiliary binary
> nane-to-offset indices that get regenerated on the fly whenever the
> text data part is newer than the index. That way you get both the
> speed advantages of a binary format and the transparancy advantages of
> text.

Interesting. In effect, this is a very PDF'ish idea. I happen to like that
latter format for exactly the reasons you bring out.

> > Number two, a team that's prone to writing code that garbages up a DB is
> > going to be prone to writing code that garbages up a text (non-binary)
> > format.
> True, but not the point. The point is that it's a lot easier for human
> eyeballs to grok patterns in text than in binary. So it's easier to spot,
> diagnose, and correct corruption bugs.

Right, no argument from me on this, specifically. I'm a bit skeptical as to
how useful this capability might turn out to be in real usage.

> > In the final analysis, though, why mention a putative "major"
> > problem without explicitly mentioning a solution? I'm curious.
> I didn't mention a solution because I don't have one. That doesn't mean
> I can't see a big whacking problem when it stares me in the face -- in
> fact, I'm embarrassed that it took Larry McVoy to bring my attention to it.
> As Donald Knuth said "Premature optimization is the root of all evil."
> Binary formats are almost always premature optimization -- they sacrifice
> debuggability (and, hence, development time) for performance gains that
> are usually marginal. They should be used sparingly, and usually only
> as automatically-regenerated caches or fast indexes for text masters.

We may be talking at cross-purposes here. It sounds like you are mainly
anti-binary-format for a specific usage, and I took your original post to
indicate an across-the-table dislike for binary. Of course, you might
actually have an across-the-board dislike for binary, in which case we will
respectfully disagree. :-)

Sorry for any hints of cynicism in my earlier post. I am well into XML
overload - 3 years ago I loved it; now I tolerate it. :-) Still, your above
idea sounds pretty sweet.

Arved Sandstrom
Received on Sat Oct 21 14:36:27 2006

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