[FRPythoneers] Boulder Sprint: Adding Oracle support to Django

Jim Baker jbaker at zyasoft.com
Tue Nov 7 09:57:03 MST 2006

Here's an update on Saturday's sprint.

We had a great turnout on Saturday for the first Boulder Sprint 
<http://wiki.python.org/moin/BoulderSprint> held by the Front Range 
Pythoneers <http://www.fr.co.us.pythoneers.org/>. Our goal was to 
provide production-level support of Oracle 
<http://code.djangoproject.com/ticket/1990> in Django 1.0. I'm glad to 
report that we made a strong start on this goal.

Django developer Jacob Kaplan-Moss flew out to Boulder from Lawrence, 
Kansas, providing us both leadership and guidance into the Django 
internals. (Next time I hope Jacob doesn't have to fly out the next day 
on a 6 AM flight!) From Array Biopharma, we had five developers: Ian 
Kelly, Matt Boersma, Matt Drew, Michelle Cyr, and Mitch Smith. Eric 
Dobbs, of Bivio, contributed both the space and his seasoned Python 
skills. And there was me (Jim Baker). Thanks to everyone for your hard work!

We worked on a number of key issues for supporting Oracle:

    * Perhaps most important, Jacob split out Oracle-specific
      functionality into the Oracle backend, allowing for more
      modularity. Django uses quite portable code, in conjunction with
      the Python DB2 API, but Oracle has its peculiarities. Being
      pragmatic, we had to work through that.
    * Mapping Django's TextFields to Oracle's CLOBs, not LONGs, which
      pretty much are deprecated. (Remember Django's origin, we
      certainly need good support for text!) However, supporting CLOBs
      required some changes: no buffering in the Python layer, just
      iterate directly over the cursor; explicitly read in data from the
      LOB reference; prepare the OCI by giving cx_Oracle explicit type
      information (also necessary for timestamps with greater than one
      second precision).
    * Pagination queries. Django's ORM grew out of supporting
      PostgreSQL, which has OFFSET and LIMIT clauses, useful for the
      pagination queries often seen in stateless web apps. Oracle
      actually has quite good support for this type of queries but this
      fact is not well-known. And frankly it's a bit clumsy to use,
      requiring doubly nested subqueries. See Oracle guru Tom Kyte's
      in Oracle magazine for more details. I made some progress on this
      front, but I still need to integrate it into the new
      django.db.backends.oracle.OracleQuerySet class added by Jacob.
    * Test schema support. Oracle uses the concept of "user schema"
      where other databases might use "database". There's a bit of
      trickiness in working appropriately with this, especially if there
      are tablespaces being set up for this test. Eric took the lead on
    * Mitch Smith wrote two gnarly Oracle-specific queries that have
      almost got introspection and Django's "inspectdb" command working
    * Part of our goal was to get all existing tests to pass from
      runtests.py, and we're about 70% there.
    * Array Biopharma now has their test web app, donuts, running.

And this is just what I saw from my side of the conference room table! 
We do have a photostream 
<http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/bouldersprint/> for the Boulder 
Sprint. Check out Matt B. and Michelle contemplating at the Oracle 
<http://www.flickr.com/photos/67001115@N00/288564942/>. Or Matt B. and 
Ian asking rhetorically 
<http://www.flickr.com/photos/67001115@N00/288962041/>, "How can we 
screw up a 3-line function?" There is also a wiki 

- Jim
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