W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-dom@w3.org > July to September 1998

Re: Implementing NodeList

From: Myrddin Emrys <myrddin@iosys.net>
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 1998 05:56:57 GMT
To: www-dom@w3.org
Message-ID: <35bf60c0.49561867@mail.iosys.net>
On 27 Jul 1998 17:52:10 -0700 steve@crc.ricoh.com (Stephen R. Savitzky)
sent this message:

>I think that ``in practice'' depends on who is practicing what; in my
>opinion the advice you got was worth exactly what you paid for it.  In a
>multithreaded environment (which we have in our application) with very large
>documents (such as a database or document store) this kind of implementation
>trick is unacceptable.
>I'll stand by my original statement.  For example, consider a document
>derived in the obvious fashion from a table in a relational database.  A
>node with several million children is not unreasonable to expect.  If the
>document is ``live'', the implementor might have to query the database and
>obtain the entire table at each iteration.

I am a part-time programmer... my practical knowledge of implementing
things such as the DOM spec is very limited. But one question has kept
plaguing me throughout this discussion... why can't the nodeList be
implemented as a linked list? Removing and inserting nodes into a linked
list is a trivial matter, whether it is live or not. Traversing a linked
list is also trivial. What about the spec or the required implementation
makes using linked lists unacceptable?

One thing I saw was that it is required to be indexed... ie, require a
unique, sequential access number for each node, as if it were an array. Has
anyone considered using a generated index, as opposed to a fixed index? If
the nodes are linked in a hash tree, or some other tree format, you can
make a generated index by summing the count of the nodes beneath each

| +-C
|   +-A
|   +-B
  | +-E

This tree represents the nodelist ABCDEFGHI (if traversed sequentially
using a depth first traverse). We can generate and use an index by creating
a count of the nodes beneath each branch... like so:

I	9
+-D	4
| +-C	3
|   +-A	1
|   +-B	1
+-H	4
  +-F	2
  | +-E	1
  +-G	1

The index of nod G can be calculated by adding D+F+G = 4+2+1 = 7. This is
equivalent to counting the top node of every branch that is completely
before G, plus counting itself (since because you are performing a depth
first search, the branch below itself also comes before the node).

Assuming a well made hash tree, this calculation can be performed very
quickly... a balanced tree with a million nodes can be calculated by
summing an average of only 10 nodes. Further traversing of the tree in a
forward or reverse direction can be done with no more calculations needed,
unless an edit is performed on the tree (a node is removed or added). To
regain coherence, only 10 nodes (on average) would have to be recounted.

When an edit is performed, the count of all nodes above it to the top have
to be updated... but that is far less intensive than updating an average of
half the nodelist. If a node was added below E in the example above, the
values of E, F, H, and I would need to increment by 1... a trivial matter.

It seems, to my inexperienced eyes, to solve the problem of requiring an
array-like index to be available for a frequently updated nodelist. It
allows the nodelist to be live, with the benefits that creates. This
implementation assumes a well formed hash is used to generate the nodelist.
A poorly formed tree would accrue higher costs re-calculating the index
value, but it should still be less CPU intensive than most solutions. I do
not know if this is not possible given the DOM spec, but I would like to
hear ideas.

Myrddin Emrys, Io Systems Network Administrator
Received on Tuesday, 28 July 1998 01:57:42 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 20 October 2015 10:46:04 UTC