I released Sqitch v0.9998 this week. Despite the long list of changes,
only one new feature stands out: support for the Snowflake Data Warehouse
platform. A major work project aims to move all of our reporting data from
Postgres to Snowflake. I asked the team lead if they needed Sqitch support, and
they said something like, “Oh hell yes, that would save us months of
work!” Fortunately I had time to make it happen.
Snowflake’s SQL interface ably supports all the functionality required for
Sqitch; indeed, the implementation required fairly little customization. And
while I did report a number of issues and shortcomings to the Snowflake support
team, they always responded quickly and helpfully — sometimes revealing
undocumented workarounds to solve my problems. I requested that they be
The work turned out well. If you use Snowflake, consider managing your databases
with Sqitch. Start with the tutorial to get a feel for it.
Of course, you might find it a little tricky to get started. In addition to long
list of Perl dependencies, each database engines requires two external
resources: a command-line client and a driver library. For Snowflake, that means
the SnowSQL client and the ODBC driver. The PostgreSQL engine requires
psql and DBD::Pg compiled with libpq. MySQL calls for the mysql client
and DBD::mysql compiled with the MySQL connection library. And so on. You
likely don’t care what needs to be built and installed; you just want it to
work. Ideally install a binary and go.
I do, too. So I spent the a month or so building Sqitch bundling support, to
easily install all its Perl dependencies into a single directory for
distribution as a single package. It took a while because, sadly, Perl provides
no straightforward method to build such a feature without also bundling unneeded
libraries. I plan to write up the technical details soon; for now, just know
that I made it work. If you Homebrew, you’ll reap the benefits in your next
brew install sqitch.
Pour One Out
In fact, the bundling feature enabled a complete rewrite of the Sqitch Homebrew
tap. Previously, Sqitch’s Homebrew formula installed the required modules in
Perl’s global include path. This pattern violated Homebrew best practices, which
prefer that all the dependencies for an app, aside from configuration, reside in
a single directory, or “cellar.”
The new formula follows this dictum, bundling Sqitch and its CPAN dependencies
into a nice, neat package. Moreover, it enables engine dependency selection at
build time. Gone are the separate
sqitch_$engine formulas. Just pass the
requisite options when you build Sqitch:
brew install sqitch --with-postgres-support --with-sqlite-support
Include as many engines as you need (here’s the list). Find yourself with only
Postgres support but now need Oracle, too? Just reinstall:
brew reinstall sqitch --with-postgres-support --with-oracle-support
In fact, the old
sqitch_oracle formula hasn’t worked in quite some time, but
$HOMEBREW_ORACLE_HOME environment variable does the trick (provided
you disable SIP; see the instructions for details).
I recently became a Homebrew user myself, and felt it important to make Sqitch
build “the right way”. I expect this formula to be more reliable and better
maintained going forward.
Still, despite its utility, Homebrew Sqitch lives up to its name: It downloads
and builds Sqitch from source. To attract newbies with a quick and easy method
to get started, we need something even simpler.
Dock of the Bae
Which brings me to the installer that excites me most: The new Docker image.
Curious about Sqitch and want to download and go? Use Docker? Try this:
curl -L https://git.io/fAX6Z -o sqitch && chmod +x sqitch
That’s it. On first run, the script pulls down the Docker image, which
includes full support for PostgreSQL, MySQL, Firebird, and SQLite, and weighs in
at just 164 MB (54 MB compressed). Thereafter, it works just as if Sqitch was
locally-installed. It uses a few tricks to achieve this bit of magic:
- It mounts the current directory, so it acts on the Sqitch project you
intend it to
- It mounts your home directory, so it can read the usual configuration files
- It syncs the environment variables that Sqitch cares about
The script even syncs your username, full name, and host name, in case you
haven’t configured your name and email address with
sqitch config. The only
outwardly obvious difference is the editor: If you add
a change and let the editor open, it launches nano rather than your preferred
editor. This limitation allows the image ot remain as small as possible.
I invested quite a lot of effort into the Docker image, to make it as small as
possible while maximizing out-of-the-box database engine support — without
foreclosing support for proprietary databases. To that end, the repository
Dockerfiles to support Oracle and Snowflake: simply
download the required binary files, built the image, and push it to your private
registry. Then set
$SQITCH_IMAGE to the image name to transparently run it
with the magic shell script.
I plan to put more work into the Sqitch Docker repository over the next few
months. Exasol and Vertica
Dockerfiles come next. Beyond that, I envision
matrix of different images, one for each database engine, to minimize download
and runtime size for folx who need only one engine — especially for production
deployments. Adding Alpine-based images also tempts me; they’d be even
smaller, though unable to support most (all?) of the commercial database
engines. Still: tiny!
Container size obsession is a thing, right?
At work, we believe the future of app deployment and execution belongs to
containerization, particularly on Docker and Kubernetes. I presume that
conviction will grant me time to work on these improvements.