GDA save missing records

Graham Leggett minfrin at
Mon Feb 18 12:29:53 EST 2008

Keith Bellairs wrote:

> Speaking as a user and not someone busting his butt on this, I hate the 
> idea of "unlimited" everything when we go to a DB. Most of our databases 
> have a mechanism (BLOB/CLOB) to store really big things, usually at the 
> cost of indexing or searching (other than with special hacks -- Oracle 
> Text, for example).
> gnc is not, and should not be, a doc mgmt system. I want fast, fast 
> retrieval and summarization. Having a place to store a reference to a 
> doc is a great idea; plugging up the data with the docs, not so much.
> Of course, it is unforgiveable to just drop rows. Even silently 
> truncating data is pretty dubious. Don't know Postgres and Mysql; can't 
> we throw an exception so we have a chance to do the right thing (what 
> the user needs)?
> I'd ask the developers to pick some reasonable size for each column. 
> Then publish the schema. Granted this is a big change from the unlimited 
> everything, but it seems necessary. If I don't like your column size, I 
> should be able to ALTER TABLE and set my own favorites, so please do not 
> hard-code the column sizes into the code.

The problem with this is that it introduces inconsistency into the code. 
The XML backend has no concept of line lengths, and is so "unlimited". 
The problem was originally found when an attempt was made to import this 
"unlimited" data into a "limited" system, such as the current DB system.

Suddenly we have introduced the possibility that perfectly valid data in 
one backend is no longer valid in another. Add to that a user ability to 
change the line lengths and suddenly all bets are off.

Fixed length string widths are an optimisation that helps if you are 
manipulating fixed length strings, but if you aren't - such as with a 
description in a register - the fixed length serves no purpose at all.

As someone who spends a lot of time tracking down nasty problems in 
software, I can tell you that this is exactly one of those seemingly 
harmless issues that can cause some very difficult to find, and 
therefore very expensive bugs in systems. In this case, it was only 
found because mysql and postgresql have different behaviour when string 
lengths are too long, and that was found by a very lucky accident.

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