Re: IndexedDB, what were the issues? How do we stop it from happening again?

On Thu, 07 Mar 2013 13:01:20 +0100, Alex Russell <>  

> On Wednesday, March 6, 2013, Ian Fette (イアンフェッティ) wrote:
>> I seem to recall we contemplated people writing libraries on top of IDB
>> from the beginning. I'm not sure why this is a bad thing.
> It's not bad as an assumption, but it can quickly turn into an excuse for
> API design malpractice because it often leads to the (mistaken)  
> assumption
> that user-provided code is as cheap as browser-provided API. Given that
> users pull their libraries from the network more often than from disk  
> (and
> must parse/compile, etc.), the incentives of these two API-providers  
> could
> not be more different. That's why it's critical that API designers try to
> forestall the need for libraries for as long as possible when it comes to
> web features.

Libraries are important in many areas, but the goal should be to have a  
spec which doesn't *require* it. It should be easy to understand and  
implement without it. I would rather learn the spec and write a few lines  
of code and have it run - rather than learn the spec, then learn a  
library, and then use that library in every required page (increasing my  
bandwidth costs and the costs to my users who are accessing my site on  
mobile, often on limited data plans). The former option should be the  
design goal whenever possible.

Also, Alec's points were spot on.

>> We originally shipped "web sql" / sqlite, which was a familiar interface
>> for many and relatively easy to use, but had a sufficiently large API
>> surface area that no one felt they wanted to document the whole thing  
>> such
>> that we could have an inter-operable standard. (Yes, I'm simplifying a  
>> bit.)
> Yeah, I recall that the SQLite semantics were the big obstacle.
>> As a result, we came up with an approach of "What are the fundamental
>> primitives that we need?", spec'd that out, and shipped it. We had
>> discussions at the time that we expected library authors to produce
>> abstraction layers that made IDB easier to use, as the "fundamental
>> primitives" approach was not necessarily intended to produce an API that
>> was as straightforward and easy to use as what we were trying to  
>> replace.
>> If that's now what is happening, that seems like a good thing, not a
>> failure.
> It's fine in the short run to provide just the low-level stuff and work  
> up
> to the high-level things -- but only when you can't predict what the
> high-level needs will be. Assuming that's what the WG's view was, you're
> right; feature not bug, although there's now more work to do.
> Anyhow, IDB is incredibly high-level in many places and primitive in
> others. ISTM that it's not easy to get a handle on it's intended level of
> abstraction.
>> On Wed, Mar 6, 2013 at 10:14 AM, Alec Flett  
>> <>wrote:
>> My primary takeaway from both working on IDB and working with IDB for  
>> some
>> demo apps is that IDB has just the right amount of complexity for really
>> large, robust database use.. but for a "welcome to noSQL in the  
>> browser" it
>> is way too complicated.
>> Specifically:
>>    1. *versioning* - The reason this exists in IDB is to guarantee a
>>    schema (read: a fixed set of objectStores + indexes) for a given set  
>> of
>>    operations.  Versioning should be optional. And if versioning is  
>> optional,
>>    so should *opening* - the only reason you need to "open" a database  
>> is
>>    so that you have a handle to a versioned database. You can *almost*  
>> implement
>>    versioning in JS if you really care about it...(either keep an  
>> explicit
>>    key, or auto-detect the state of the schema) its one of those cases  
>> where
>>    80% of versioning is dirt simple  and the complicated stuff is  
>> really about
>>    maintaining version changes across multiply-opened windows. (i.e. one
>>    window opens an idb, the next window opens it and changes the  
>> schema, the
>>    first window *may* need to know that and be able to adapt without
>>    breaking any in-flight transactions) -
>>    2. *transactions* - Also should be optional. Vital to complex apps,
>>    but totally not necessary for many.. there should be a default  
>> transaction,
>>    like db.objectStore("foo").get("bar")
>>    3. *transaction scoping* - even when you do want transactions, the  
>> api
>>    is just too verbose and repetitive for "get one key from one object  
>> store"
>>    - db.transaction("foo").objectStore("foo").get("bar") - there should  
>> be
>>    implicit (lightweight) transactions like  
>> db.objectStore("foo").get("bar")
>>    4. *forced versioning* - when versioning is optional, it should be
>>    then possible to change the schema during a regular transaction.  
>> Yes, this
>>    is a lot of rope but this is actually for much more complex apps,  
>> rather
>>    than simple ones. In particular, it's not uncommon for more complex
>>    database systems to dynamically create indexes based on observed  
>> behavior
>>    of the API, or observed data (i.e. when data with a particular key  
>> becomes
>>    prevalent, generate an index for it) and then dynamically use them if
>>    present. At the moment you have to do a manual close/open/version  
>> change to
>>    dynamically bump up the version - effectively rendering fixed-value
>>    versions moot (i.e. the schema for version 23 in my browser may look
>>    totally different than the schema for version 23 in your browser) and
>>    drastically complicating all your code (Because if you try to  
>> close/open
>>    while transactions are in flight, they will be aborted - so you have  
>> to
>>    temporarily pause all new transactions, wait for all in-flight  
>> transactions
>>    to finish, do a close/open, then start running all pending/paused
>>    transactions.) This last case MIGHT be as simple as adding
>>    db.reopen(newVersion) to the existing spec.
>>    5. *named object stores* - frankly, for *many* use cases, a single
>>    objectStore is all you need. a simple db.get("foo") would be  
>> sufficient.
>>    Simply naming a "default" isn't bad - whats bad is all the  
>> onupgradeneeded
>>    scaffolding required to create the objectstore in the first place.
>> I do think that the IDBRequest model needs tweaking, and Futures seem  
>> like
>> the obvious direction to head in.
>> FWIW, the "sync" version of the API is more or less dead - nobody has
>> actually implemented it.
>> I think there is a very specialized set of applications that absolutely
>> need the features that IDB has right now. Google Docs is a perfect  
>> example
>> - long lived complicated application that needs to keep absolute  
>> integrity
>> of schema across multiple tabs over a long period of time.. but for 99%  
>> of
>> usecases out there, I think they're unnecessary.
>> I think ultimately, a simplified IDB would allow progressive use of the
>> api as your application grows.
>> // basic interaction - some objectStore named 'default' gets crated  
>> under
>> the hood.
>> indexedDB.get("mykey");
>> // named database, auto-create the 'first' objectStore named 'default',  
>> no
>> need to 'close' anything
>> indexedDB.database("mydb").get("mykey")
>> // now we need multiple objectstores:
>> indexedDB.database("mydb").objectStore("default").get("mykey")
>> // time for versioning, but using 'default'
>>"mydb", 12).onupgrad

Shwetank Dixit
Web Evangelist,
Web Standards Team
Opera Software -

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Received on Thursday, 7 March 2013 20:29:30 UTC