UK IUA Code Sprint – It Takes a Global Village


UK IUA Development Sprint

Last week the UK IUA held a very successful and well attended User Group meeting at the University of Westiminster in London.  We decided to host a two day development code sprint immediately before the user group event, and I thought you’d be interested to learn more about the results.

We had 16 participants with roughly an equal number of Actian employees and community members drawn from the UK, US, Canada and Denmark.   Companies represented included EDS, AAH Pharmaceuticals, Bording Data and Oxford University.  Roy Hann, the chairman of the UK IUA, was a great source of light relief and we uncovered a hidden talent for humorous t-shirt design e.g. the t-shirt Roy is wearing in the above photo says “18 out of 20 Failed Banks Ran Oracle”

Projects Undertaken:

Compressed Backups – Jeremy Hankinson added an option to the Actian backup utility to enable the use of bzip2 to compress the backup set as the database is backed up.   The use of compression will be automatically detected when the backup set is restored.

Drupal on Actian in the Amazon EC2 – A pre-configured Amazon Machine Image (AMI) that combines Actian and Drupal in a ready-to-run configuration was prepared by Ray Fan and Roy Deal Simon during the sprint.   The use of this AMI to deploy Actian and Drupal, a leading open source content management system, removes the need to identify and configure all of the various components required to use this popular technology.

Enforced logging of all database activity – Alex Hanshaw added to ability to specify a list of databases in CBF for which logging cannot be disabled.

Ability to disable logging when copying or unloading a database – To speed up unloading or copying databases Paul Mason added an option to the respective utilities to provide the ability to not log activity while these actions are in progress.   

Command history recall – The Actian SQL utility for Linux and UNIX supports the command line option -history_recall to provide a command history within the terminal monitor.  For some reason that wasn’t the default behavior and few people knew of it, and also it didn’t honor ctrl-c or ctrl-d.  Jeremy Hankinson added the history_recall feature by default and fixed the related bugs.

bit datatype – Keith Bolam added a bit datatype to Actian along with a set of functions that can operate on the bit type such as bit_set, bit_clr, bit_extract and bit_test

Specify OS commands from the Terminal Monitor – Geraint Jones added the ability to specify an operating system command to be executed from within the Actian SQL Terminal Monitor.  In a somewhat related project Chris Hane added the ability to create a database from within the Actian SQL terminal monitor.

homophoneDaitch-Mokotoff Soundex routine – A soundex routine is used to index data based on how it sounds as opposed to how its spelt so that if you’ve no idea of exactly how to spell something, like a name, you can still search for it.  For example the names Smith and Smyth would not appear next to each other in a phone directory, but if they were indexed based on how they sounded they’d be next to each other.   The original Actian soundex routine encodes the string as a four character value and if two names sound the same they should have the same encoding.  The problem is that the four character encoding is too limiting and can result in false positives e.g. Nichols and Nicholson which don’t sound the same have the same soundex value.   The new Daitch-Mokotoff soundex routine which was implemented by Marty Bowes at the sprint encodes it as a series of six digit elements which is far more reliable and accurate.

Display the query plan for a running query – Karl added the ability to display the query execution plan for a running session from the Actian iimonitor utility.  A future refinement will see this feature added to IPM also.

The above was intended to give you a feel for the activities we undertook.  There were a number of other projects discussed or started and you should see those pop up on the community site in the future.

Top Actian Community Contributor

  • Roger Burkhardt and Rick Van der Lans
    Roger Burkhardt and Rick Van der Lans

    The UK IUA has established an award for an outstanding community contributor and this year’s award was presented to Rick Van der Lans who has recently published a book titled The SQL Guide to Actian.   Rick was available over lunch to sign copies of the book for user group meeting attendees.  In full disclosure – I was involved in reviewing Rick’s book and was invited to provide the foreword for it, but I would strongly suggest that you consider adding it to your bookshelf.   The community contributor award was presented by Roger Burkhardt who is the CEO at Actian Corporation.  I saw Roger pack a copy of it in his laptop bag for the flight from London to New York and I have no doubt that he now has a black-belt in Actian SQL.   

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About Emma McGrattan

As SVP of Engineering at Actian, Emma leads development for the Actian Vector team, including the Ingres and X100 components, and the Actian Matrix Planner team. A leading authority in DBMS technologies, Emma is celebrating 20 years in Ingres and Actian Engineering.

View all posts by Emma McGrattan →

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