[Seaside] question on database and scaling

James Foster Smalltalk at JGFoster.net
Mon May 12 05:36:11 UTC 2008

Hi Aaron,

On May 12, 2008, at 6:37 AM, Aaron Broad wrote:

> I second that.. I think coming from java the persistence options  
> other than gemstone seem unprofessional and scary for using seaside  
> commerciallly.  But perhaps thats biased.  Maybe in smalltalk the  
> idea of having a database as reliable as say mysql being written and  
> maintained by one person is perfectly normal?  I've just discovered  
> smalltalk/seaside.  Sadly it wasn't sooner.  It seems really  
> wonderful, and am hoping to create several great web apps with it,  
> but I too am worried about my data.  What are the best data  
> options?  What are the tradeoffs.  How reliable are they really in  
> your experience?

As to GemStone/S (disclaimer: I'm an employee), the product is over 2  
decades old and is being used around the world by Swiss banks, New  
York investment firms, trading exchanges, container shipping  
companies, chip manufacturing plants, etc. The database engine has  
full transaction semantics (including transaction log replay), so  
reliability is generally as good as your hardware and backup plans  
(e.g., use disk mirroring, keep an off-site backup, etc.).

> I'm convinced already that seaside is the easiest way to make web  
> apps, but am worried about data reliability.  I read somewhere  
> dabble db uses an inhouse written database?  Like that just sounds  
> so 1970s to a java programmer or even a ruby programmer i imagine.

The DabbleDB approach is actually one where they save the objects to  
disk using "image segments," using features they added to Squeak (I  
believe). They have the benefit of only having to convince themselves  
(and their customers) that it works, so they aren't tied to brands or  
other perceptions. They just use the simplest thing that works, and  
focus their efforts on providing other value to their customers. Since  
they don't have to argue technology with Java programmers and a large  
organization, they can move on to other things. It is good work if you  
can get it!

> I have trouble convincing java programmers that db4o is useful, even  
> though its backed by a large organization and is open source and  
> what not.  There is just this general distrust for anything that  
> doesn't in the end, end up in an SQL database with a brand name.

If someone were looking for commercial support for RDB connectivity,  
then Cincom's work with GLORP would be something to investigate.

> I expect Gemstone to do brisk business on this mindset.  But are  
> there free($ and open source) options of comparable quality, if not  
> in speed, but in reliability?

The GemStone Web Edition is the commercial product limited is scaling  
but not in reliability (e.g., the database is limited to 4 GB). It  
provides all the same reliability features and can be used for  
commercial applications at no cost (but is not open source).

James Foster
GemStone Systems, Inc.

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