Firbird / Blob support

Andrzej J. R. Hunt andrzej at
Wed Jul 24 10:35:26 PDT 2013

On Tue, 2013-07-23 at 16:36 +0200, Lionel Elie Mamane wrote:
> On Sun, Jul 21, 2013 at 08:23:49PM +0200, Andrzej J. R. Hunt wrote:
> > I've just been working on the first stages of supporting blobs with
> > firebird (...). firebird stores table and column descriptions within
> > blobs so in order to support them we need blob suppport
> "Table and column description" looks like they are supposed to contain
> strings anyway? But if FireBird considers it as a BLOB (not a CLOB),
> we probably enter unknown-string-encoding hell. :-|
> Hmm... Reading the InterBase documentation, it seems that their BLOB
> also covers CLOB as a "BLOB subtype 1", whereas an SQL BLOB would be
> FireBird BLOB subtype 0.
According to the IB6 "Language Reference" the column is luckily in fact
subtype text i.e. probably a CLOB.

> > The firebird blob calls require repeated calls to isc_get_segment
> > which reads the blob (...), whereby it isn't possible to scroll
> > backwards again. This would probably work well with
> > Blob::getBinaryStream() -- for the moment I've only implemented
> > getBytes() though where we read the whole blob into memory on
> > request.
> You could make that lazy and read only the first P bytes when bytes at
> position N to P are requested by getBytes(N, P-N).
> I'm trying to think of the possibility of just shoving the limitation
> back to the caller of getBytes(), that is by throwing an SQLERROR if
> getBytes() is not called with strictly monotonically increasing
> arguments. I haven't found a convincing argument that it would be OK,
> but neither a convincing argument that it would not be OK.
> Instead of caching the read data, we could also transparently
> isc_close_blob and re-isc_open_blob to fake scroll backwards. Not sure
> it is a good idea, especially since we cannot scroll forwards without
> actually reading data either.
> What does the FireBird JDBC driver do? It started not supporting
> getBytes() at all, but not implements it by seeking forwards /
> backwards... using an undocumented isc_seek_blob. Google search
> suggests that there are two kinds of BLOBs, segmented BLOBs (the
> default...) and stream BLOBs, and seeking works only the latter :-(
> IMHO, it would be worth to quickly poll the firebirds devs to see if
> the situation has changed since the old info I found.

Yep, I'll probably have to do some more research / check directly with
them (I've also pulled the Jaybird sources since they look like they'll
be a useful reference). The problem is that I've been working mainly
with the IB6 documentation, so I might have missed more recent updates,
e.g. isc_seek_blob (there's no definitive firebird documentation afaics
-- so I'm using a mix of the IB6 books + various websites).

One plan I'm considering is having two Blob implementations in the sdbc
driver: one for stream blobs -- which can use the more modern api, one
for segmented blobs which will just have to be inefficient by either
loading everything into memory or closing/reopening blobs as needed. If
the sdbc driver then writes blobs as stream blobs by default there will
be very few cases when the inefficient segment blob version would have
to be used (although we'd probably have to avoid rewriting already
segmented blobs as stream blobs as that could upset other applications
using the same database).

> > for larger blobs this isn't satisfactory but then hopefully an Input
> > stream would be used anyway?
> Yes, it is reasonable to push the expectation on calling code that
> when dealing with very big objects, they should use the stream
> interface.
> > I haven't managed to sucessfully find any usage of Blob within LO
> > though, so I guess this isn't actually particularly important?
> It is nice to have so that user code can use it. If HSQLDB supports/ed
> it, then it is also necessary so that we don't regress.
Yes, agreed. I'll leave the current implementation for the moment though
as I still need to get the rest of the driver working satisfactorily.



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