Just a Theory

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Posts about Ruby on Rails

Execute SQL Code on Connect

I’ve been writing a fair bit of PL/Perl for a client, and one of the things I’ve been doing is eliminating a ton of duplicate code by creating utility functions in the %_SHARED hash. This is great, as long as the code that creates those functions gets executed at the beginning of every database connection. So I put the utility generation code into a single function, called prepare_perl_utils(). It looks something like this:

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION prepare_perl_utils(
    # Don't bother if we've already loaded.
    return 1 if $_SHARED{escape_literal};

    $_SHARED{escape_literal} = sub {
        $_[0] =~ s/'/''/g; $_[0] =~ s/\\/\\\\/g; $_[0];

    # Create other code refs in %_SHARED…

So now all I have to do is make sure that all the client’s apps execute this function as soon as they connect, so that the utilities will all be loaded up and ready to go. Here’s how I did it.

First, for the Perl app, I just took advantage of the DBI’s callbacks to execute the SQL I need when the DBI connects to the database. That link might not work just yet, as the DBI’s callbacks have only just been documented and that documentation appears only in dev releases so far. Once 1.611 drops, the link should work. At any rate, the use of callbacks I’m exploiting here has been in the DBI since 1.49, which was released in November 2005.

The approach is the same as I’ve described before: Just specify the Callbacks parameter to DBI->connect, like so:

my $dbh = DBI->connect_cached($dsn, $user, $pass, {
    PrintError     => 0,
    RaiseError     => 1,
    AutoCommit     => 1,
    Callbacks      => {
        connected => sub { shift->do('SELECT prepare_perl_utils()' },

That’s it. The connected method is a no-op in the DBI that gets called to alert subclasses that they can do any post-connection initialization. Even without a subclass, we can take advantage of it to do our own initialization.

It was a bit trickier to make the same thing happen for the client’s Rails app. Rails, alas, provides no on-connection callbacks. So we instead have to monkey-patch Rails to do what we want. With some help from “dfr|mac” on #rubyonrails (I haven’t touched Rails in 3 years!), I got it worked down to this:

class ActiveRecord::ConnectionAdapters::PostgreSQLAdapter
    def initialize_with_perl_utils(*args)
    returning(initialize_without_perl_utils(*args)) do
        execute('SELECT prepare_perl_utils()')
    alias_method_chain :initialize, :perl_utils

Basically, we overpower the PostgreSQL adapter’s initialize method and have it call initialize_with_perl_utils before it returns. It’s a neat trick; if you’re going to practice fuck typing, alias_method_chain makes it about as clean as can be, albeit a little too magical for my tastes.

Anyway, recorded here for posterity (my blog is my other brain!).

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Using sudo to Install the Postgres Gem on Leopard

Been getting this error with the latest postgres gem?

% sudo gem install postgres
Bulk updating Gem source index for: http://gems.rubyforge.org
Building native extensions.  This could take a while...
ERROR:  While executing gem ... (Gem::Installer::ExtensionBuildError)
   ERROR: Failed to build gem native extension.

ruby extconf.rb install postgres
checking for main() in -lpq... yes
checking for libpq-fe.h... yes
checking for libpq/libpq-fs.h... yes
checking for PQsetClientEncoding()... no
checking for pg_encoding_to_char()... no
checking for PQfreemem()... no
checking for PQserverVersion()... no
checking for PQescapeString()... no
creating Makefile

I have, too. I’ve known about the fix for a while, thanks to a post from maintainer Jeff Davis from last month. But I was unable to get it to work. But then I found this gem of a comment (pun not intended) from Gluttonous:

FYI, this does NOT work with sudo since sudo strips the env var out. You must ‘sudo -s’ or ‘sudo su’ and run the command straight up.

D’oh! I’ve been doing this all this time:

ARCHFLAGS='-arch i386' sudo gem install postgres

And getting the same failures. But this works beautifully:

sudo env ARCHFLAGS='-arch i386' gem install postgres

And away we go!

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Rails Migrations with Slony?

The new app I’m developing is written in Ruby on Rails and runs on PostgreSQL. We’re replicating our production database using Slony-I, but we’ve run into a bit of a snag: database schema updates must be run as plain SQL through a Slony script in order to ensure proper replication of the schema changes within a transaction, but Rails migrations run as Ruby code updating the database via the Rails database adapter.

So how do others handle Rails migrations with their Slony-I replication setups? How do you update the Slony-I configuration file for the changes? How do you synchronize changes to the master schema out to the slaves? Do you shut down your apps, shut down Slony-I, make the schema changes to both the master and the slaves, and then restart Slony-I and your apps?

For that matter, people running Slony for their Bricolage databases must have the same issue, because the Bricolage upgrade scripts are just Perl using the DBI, not SQL files. Can anyone shed a little light on this for me?

Oh, and one last question: Why is this such a PITA? Can’t we have decent replication that replicates everything, including schema changes? Please?

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