Elizabeth Mattijsen > String-Lookup-0.12 > String::Lookup

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Module Version: 0.12   Source  

NAME ^

String::Lookup - convert strings to ID's authoritatively and vice-versa

SYNOPSIS ^

 use String::Lookup;

 tie my %lookup, 'String::Lookup',
   autoflush => $when,      # when to automatically flush, default: destruction
   offset    => $offset,    # start counting from, default: 0
   increment => $increment, # space between ID's, default: 1

   # persistent storage backend, instead of "init" and "flush"
   storage => $storage, # how to store, e.g. 'FlatFile'
   tag     => $tag,     # tag to distinguish between logical hashes
   fork    => 1,        # fork for each flush, default: no
   ...                  # other persistent backend type specific parameters

   # or set up your own "init" and "flush"
   init      => $what,      # hash / code ref to initialize hash with
   flush     => sub { },    # code to flush hash with, default: don't flush
 };

 my $id= $lookup{ \$string }; # strings must be indicated by reference
 my $string= $lookup{$id};    # numbers indicate id -> string mapping

 # optimizing by bypassing the slow tie interface
 my $ro_lookup= %lookup;
 my $id= $ro_lookup->{$string} // $lookup{ \$string };

VERSION ^

This documentation describes version 0.12.

DESCRIPTION ^

Provide a simple way to map (a great number of) strings to ID's authoritatively. Uses the tie interface for simplicity. Looking up the ID of a string is accomplished by passing a reference to the string as the key in the tied hash. If a reference is seen, it is assumed this is a string -> ID lookup (even if the string only consists of a number). If a non-reference is passed, then it is assumed to be the numeric ID for which the string should be returned.

New ID's are assigned by taking the current offset value (by default starting at 0) and adding the increment value to that (by default 1), and remembering that as the next offset value. Offset and increment value can only be set at tie time.

PERSISTENCE ^

 tie my %lookup, 'String::Lookup',
   storage => $storage, # how to store, e.g. 'FlatFile'
   tag     => $tag,     # tag to distinguish between logical hashes
   fork    => 1,        # fork for each flush, default: no
   ...                  # other persistent backend type specific parameters
 };

Generally, you want lookup hashes to have persistence across process runs. You can indicate this with the storage parameter. It indicates which persistent storage backend should be used. If specified, it replaces the init and flush parameters.

At least two parameters need to be specified to indicate where the persistent storage of the lookup hash is located: storage and tag. One parameter is optional: fork. Other parameters may be needed for a given type of persistent backend, please consult the documentation of the associated backend module.

storage
 tie my %lookup, 'String::Lookup',
   storage => $storage, # how to store, e.g. 'FlatFile'
 };

Indicate the type of persistent storage to be used. It can either be a single word (in which case it will be appended to the class name, e.g. FlatFile becomes String::Lookup::FlatFile) or a fully qualified class name (in which case it is expected to supply the init and flush interface for persistent storage backends).

The Class::Lookup distribution contains the String::Lookup::<FlatFile and String::Lookup::DBI persistent backend modules.

tag
 tie my %lookup, 'String::Lookup',
   tag     => $tag,     # tag to distinguish between logical hashes
 };

Indicate the logical name of the lookup hash. For the FlatFile backend this name is used as the filename in which to store. For the DBI backend, this is the name of the table in which to store. Other backends may use the tag in different ways.

fork
 tie my %lookup, 'String::Lookup',
   fork    => 1,        # fork for each flush, default: no
 };

Indicate whether or not the flushing process (be it automatically or not) should take place in a forked process or not. Doing the flush in a forked process has the advantage that lookups will continue almost immediately, rather than having to wait for the storage requests to come back. It currently has the disadvantage that it will hide any problems in the flushing process.

(other, storage dependent parameters)

Any other acceptable parameters, should be returned by the class method parameters_ok on the storage class. Any other parameters will be considered to be an error and cause an exception.

See "METHODS IN STORAGE MODULE" for more information about creating your own persistent storage module.

AUTOMATIC FLUSHING ^

 tie my %lookup, 'String::Lookup',
   autoflush => $when,    # when to automatically flush, default: at destruction
 };

The autoflush parameter indicates when flushing of strings and their associated ID's should be done automatically, rather then "manually" (by calling the flush method on the underlying object) or at object destruction time.

Two types of autoflush parameter can be specified:

per X new ID's
 autoflush => $number,         # flush after every $number new ID's

If the value specified with the autoflush parameter is a simple number, then it will be interpreted as the number of new ID's that should be seen before an automatic flush will take place.

per every N seconds
 autoflush => $seconds . "s",  # flush after every $seconds seconds

If the value specified with the autoflush parameter is a simple number postfixed with the letter "s", then it will be interpreted as the number of seconds since the last flush that should have passed before doing an automatic flush (and with new ID's having been added, of course).

OPTIMIZING STRING LOOKUPS ^

 # optimizing by bypassing the slow tie interface if possible
 my $ro_lookup= %lookup;
 my $id= $ro_lookup->{$string} // $lookup{ \$string };

The tie interface is notoriously slow. If a high number of strings needs to be looked up, then the lookups may slow things down a lot. Since we only want to lookup strings because they occur again and again, it makes sense to not have to use the tie interface if the string has already an ID assigned to it. But the underlying hash lookup is hidden by the tie interface. If it would be possible to access the underlying (real) hash, then that could be used to first check if a string is already known.

Finding out what the underlying real hash is, is possible by accessing the tied hash in scalar context once: it will then return a reference to the underlying hash, allowing direct lookup access. Like so:

 my $ro_lookup= %lookup;

If there is no defined value returned from the underlying hash, then the original, tied hash access should be used to automatically obtain the numeric ID. Like so:

 my $id= $ro_lookup->{$string} // $lookup{ \$string };

Please note that the lookup in the underlying hash should be made with the string, and the lookup in the tied hash with the reference to the string!

RANGE OF ID's ^

 tie my %lookup, 'String::Lookup',
   offset    => $offset,    # start counting from, default: 0
 };

In some cases you want the ID's to be issued to start at a certain value (rather than starting from 1). The offset parameter can be used for this.

SPACE BETWEEN ID's ^

 tie my %lookup, 'String::Lookup',
   increment => $increment, # space between ID's, default: 1
 };

In some cases you want ID's to be spaced. For instance in a multi datacenter environment, where each data center has its own set of ID's that need to be merged in a single persistent backend at some point in time. In such a situation, one can specify the increment parameter. If one expects to have a maximum of 10 data centers, one could specify an increment of 10, and a different offset for each data center. This would ensure that for each ID there would always be 1 string, at the expense of the added complexity that for each string, there could possibly be multiple ID's.

INITIALIZATION ^

 tie my %lookup, 'String::Lookup',
   init  => $hash_ref,    # hash ref to use as underlying hash
 };

 tie my %lookup, 'String::Lookup',
   init  => sub { ... },  # code to initialize hash with
 };

The init parameter indicates how the underlying hash should be initialized. It should only be used if you do not have a persistent backend for your lookup hash. It can either be a a hash reference (that will be used directly) or a code reference that is supposed to return a hash reference that should be used as the underlying hash in which string to numerical ID mapping is stored.

A simple implementation of the code reference, that assumes strings will never contain newlines, could be:

 sub simple_init {
     my %hash;
     open my $handle, '<', 'file.lookup' or die $!;
     while ( <$handle> ) {
         my ( $id, $string )= split ':', $_, 2;
         $hash{$id}= $string;
     }
     close $handle;
     return \%hash;
 } #simple_init

FLUSHING ^

 tie my %lookup, 'String::Lookup',
   flush => sub { my ( $strings, $ids )= @_ },  # code to flush hash with
 };

The flush parameter indicates a code reference that will be called to save strings that have been added since the hash was created / initialized, or the previous time the tied hash was flushed. It should only be used if you do not have a persistent backend for your lookup hash. By default, the hash is only flushed when being untied, or when the tied hash is destroyed.

It is supposed to accept two parameters:

1 list reference for ID -> string mapping

The first parameter is a list reference to the underlying array that is used for the ID to string mapping.

2 list reference to ID's that were added

The second parameter is a list reference to the numeric ID's that were added since the last flush (if any).

It is supposed to return a boolean indicating whether the flush was successful.

A simple implementation, that assumes strings will never contain newlines, could be:

 sub simple_flush {
     my ( $strings, $ids )= @_;
     open my $handle, '>>', 'file.lookup' or die $!;
     print $handle, "$_:$strings->[$_]\n" foreach @{$ids};
     return close $handle;
 } #simple_flush

Flushing the data can also be done at any one time by calling the flush method on the object under the tie implementation. This object can be obtained with the tied function:

  ( tied %hash )->flush;

Please note that it is generally a bad idea to keep a reference to the underlying object around. See The "untie" Gotcha in perltie.

METHODS IN STORAGE MODULE ^

flush

 sub flush {
     my ( $options, $strings, $ids )= @_;
     ...
     return $ok;
 } #flush

Perform the actual flush to the storage of this module. The first parameter is a hash reference with at least the tag parameter, and any other parameters that are specified with the parameters_ok method.

The other parameters are the same as the parameters to the code ref that is needed with the flush parameter when tieing a hash with String::Lookup (currently a list reference with strings, and a list ref with ID's to be flushed)..

Like the flush code reference parameter when tying a hash, it is expected to return a boolean, indicating whether the write to permanent storage was successful or not.

init

 sub init {
     my ($options)= @_;
     ...
     return $hash;
 } #init

Perform the actions needed to initialize the underlying hash. The first parameter is a hash reference with at least the tag parameter, and any other parameters that are specified with the parameters_ok method.

Like the init code reference parameter when tying a hash, it is expected to return a hash reference to be used as the underlying hash.

parameters_ok

 my @ok= $class->parameters_ok;

Return a list with the names of the parameters that are understandable by the storage class. Must be provided.

BACKGROUND ^

At a former $client, a large amount of (similar) string data is processed every second. Think user agent strings, IPv4 and IPv6 numbers, URL's, tags and labels, domain names, HTTP input headers, affiliate ID's, etc. etc.

To reduce the database I/O, all of these strings are converted to numeric ID's. ID's can be smaller, and more easily packed than strings. But if a database is being used to assign numeric ID's (usually using an auto-increment feature), this means overhead. Overhead that is generally not needed for what is basically either a hash lookup, or an index on an array. This would be different if we could have a daemon like process whose function it would only be to assign numeric ID's to strings without needing a database backend.

This module provides the basic interface mechanism for such a daemon. It can of course also be used for more mundane usage.

WHY REFERENCE TO STRING? ^

To keep the interface of string to ID and ID to string as simple as possible, a cunning way was needed to differentiate between strings and ID's. Since some strings may consist of just a number (think HTTP status codes), it is not a good idea to use that as a differentiating factor.

Since strings can become very large, copying around should be prevented. By specifying a reference to a string to do string to ID mapping, we kill two birds with one stone: it is an unambiguous way to find out that we want string to ID mapping and we don't copy the string around as much.

IMPLEMENTATION ^

At the moment there is only a pure Perl reference implementation available. This has the disadvantage of being slower than it could possibly be made. But it works now. It is the intention of providing a faster XS interface at a later point in time. Patches welcome!

REQUIRED MODULES ^

 (none)

AUTHOR ^

 Elizabeth Mattijsen

COPYRIGHT ^

Copyright (c) 2012 Elizabeth Mattijsen <liz@dijkmat.nl>. All rights reserved. This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.

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