[Mondrian] Multithreading etc

Pappyn Bart Bart.Pappyn at vandewiele.com
Wed Mar 21 07:11:04 EDT 2007

The last few weeks, I have been busy thinking about ways to contribute a test suite that works as an insurance policy for me.  Since I can only contribute a small part of my time to mondrian, I cannot watch each change to ensure my application is still working.  All extra suggestions you have made are definitely very helpful.  
1) Test suite :
My application now has a schema of more than 5000 lines.  It uses many (almost all) features that are present in mondrian.  And it combines them, in a way I am not sure all of them are covered by existing regression tests.  It does also things that are not covered by the foodmart test case (like combining two cubes of identical layout in one virtual cube).
I think I will try to do three things :

	Try to check against the foodmart database whether the features I use are supported by a test, if not, add one to the standard regression test suite.  This is a hard one, since most features are already tested, but not in every combination with other features.  I noticed in the past, most thing that silently fail in my application (without triggering the regression tests) are mostly due to combination of many facts (virtual cubes, properties, user defined functions, cache turned on/off, complex format expressions,...)
	Create a regression test suite that runs here, using my schema and my database.  This in combination with continuous integration could alarm me if anything is failing.
	Try to contribute a database and schema to test against a dynamic database.  While the test will never be able to simulate a real dynamic environment, I will try to change the database in between two queries.  I will try out the change listener plug-in, in order to see if things are flushing and results are correct.  Maybe a good place to test your new cache control part.
	I think I would implement it using an database that is copied before the test (so the test starts with the same view each time) and doing jdbc calls to fill the database.  If you have a better idea, please tell me.  I am not sure what kind of database I should choose (access, ...).  I noticed that the test suite contains something to load a DB from csv or xml, but I am not sure how this is working and how I can modify the data on the fly?

2) QA partner
Sounds like a good idea
3) Continuous integration
Looking forward to see this, I hope the setup environment for e.g. CruiseControl is made available, so I can use it to setup up an environment to test my own cube and regression tests.
4) Dynamic database
Indeed, this is very complex to test.  But one needs to start somewhere, so I will try to contribute a test environment (see 1)) that will behave the same way as my application does.
And yes, there are many pitfalls, but due to a specific setup of the database most things are working for me, with some known issues that are acceptable in my kind of application.
Most things I did for 2.3 are about making it possible to :
* Let cubes not maintaining cache, not mess with the global cache.
* Cubes loading cache, will not interfere with concurrent threads (only check into global cache when all other threads are done).
* Being able to flush both aggregate and member cache using a plug-in. 


From: mondrian-bounces at pentaho.org [mailto:mondrian-bounces at pentaho.org] On Behalf Of Julian Hyde
Sent: vrijdag 16 maart 2007 18:04
To: 'Mondrian developer mailing list'
Subject: RE: [Mondrian] Multithreading etc

If changes to mondrian are breaking your application, I sympathize. How can we prevent that from happening? Unless we restrict ourselves to trivial enhancements, the we obviously need to test the new functionality against existing apps, or at least tests which exercise existing apps' requirements.
Ideally, these tests would be in the standard regression suite. But since some tests are too complicated to be in the standard suite, to testing which cannot be done nightly at least has to be done once per release.
We already have a process in place for much of this. For example:

	Developers ensure that code changes don't break the regression suite.
	I run the regression suite nightly, in a wide set of configurations, and let the developers know next day if things break.
	All code changes - bug fixes, enhancements and ad hoc feature - must be accompanied by a regression test which exercises the change. (That means it should fail if the change is not present.)

The extra things we need to do:

	If you are using mondrian in your apps, contribute test suites which exercise your app's functionality. LucidEra have already done thist (ClearTestSuite) and Thomson-Medstat are working on it. Sure it's a lot of work, but it's less work than taking a new release where things have stopped working. It's an insurance policy.
	Would it help if we invented the notion of 'QA partner' companies? We could run through the test suite of each QA partner before each release, as a pre-condition for making that release.
	Write better tests for new features. Complex features require complex tests. 
	Set up continuous integration (E.g. CruiseControl) to ensure that the code always builds and compiles. Thiyagu is already working on this.

Bart, On point #3: The feature you are interested in, for working on top of dynamic databases, is VERY complex to test. We have spent a lot of time discussing how to implement this feature, but very little time designing a testing infrastructure. It should be little surprise that the feature is fragile at this point.


	From: mondrian-bounces at pentaho.org [mailto:mondrian-bounces at pentaho.org] On Behalf Of Pappyn Bart
	Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 1:34 AM
	To: Mondrian developer mailing list
	Subject: RE: [Mondrian] Multithreading etc
	Hi Michael,


	I don't see any problems for you to make changes to mondrian.  But I have some concerns:


	I think the changes you are about to make are quite huge and will have an impact of how mondrian will behave.  Since this is the first source contribution you are about to make, I urge you not to check anything into perforce before it is actually working and passing all regression tests.


	I think most developers of mondrian have ongoing projects that are using mondrian, I think this is

	becoming more and more an important issue.


	For me: it must be able to flush aggregates and member cache using the plug-in and cubes not maintaining cache should be able to load their own data, without messing with global cache.


	And since a dynamic database cannot easily be simulated in a regression test, I think if you are serious about tackling the read-consistency for near-real-time data, you need a realistic (dynamic) database to test against.  And the database must be large enough to be able to see realistic performance.  It is also advised to test with virtual cubes, cubes maintaining cache (with aggregate tables) in combination with cubes not maintaining cache (without aggregate tables), shared dimensions and so on...


	I released my project 4 weeks ago, not even using the latest version of perforce, since at a given point mondrian-head was completely broken for me.  While I know software always has some bugs that need to be patched, things that are not tested and are breaking mondrian should not be checked in.  All too often I had to sync with perforce to solve a bug and this ended up in a nightmare, spending most of my time finding out what change was causing mondrian to break.


	When mondrian 2.3 will be released, it is most likely that there will be some 2.3.x version containing some patches.  I think it must be possible to make those patches without having to drag new huge features along.




	From: mondrian-bounces at pentaho.org [mailto:mondrian-bounces at pentaho.org] On Behalf Of michael bienstein
	Sent: vrijdag 9 maart 2007 11:36
	To: Mondrian developer mailing list
	Subject: [Mondrian] Multithreading etc
	I sent this to the list but it gets bounced because I attached the code in a zip file.  How do I send code through without checking it in because it is still orthogonal to the codebase?
	Well, I have code that works for multi-threading infrastructure so I would like to know if it is worth continuing with this or not.
	As for ROLLUP/CUBE my thoughts are:
	1) Either we keep the codebase simple by sticking to a standard (SQL2003) even if this standard is not yet implemented widely and certain databases have better special features than others, or we allow a per-database SQL generation system.  The argument for the second makes sense only if the developer resources to write and maintain each dialect comes from the database vendor or their community.  Mondrian is probably at a stage that such discussions can be undertaken with the database vendors.
	2) Architecturally this implies loading multiple Aggregations from one SQL query.  That requires a rethink of the way the cell cache loading is done because at the moment an Aggregation is loaded one at a time and in a synchronized block on the Aggregation.  Similar concerns have to be dealt with for in-memory rollups.  I think that synchronized is too forceful.  We need something more like a Lock from java.util.concurrent so we can do tryLock().  Look at the TxLock idea I have in the code I'm attaching.
	As for multi-threading:
	I have only written most of the base infrastructure, not the cell loading.  To integrate would require a significant amount of work in Mondrian's code to pass all interaction with Mondrian through TxSystem.runWithTx().  
	Basic concerns are:
	1)      Threads should be able to share data related to the request across the threads.
	2)      A Thread should be loaned to a request and returned in a way that is well-nigh fail-safe (i.e. the thread shouldn't keep running of the request fails in some way).
	3)      We should be able in a parameter of some sort decide to NOT use threads at all.
	4)      The number of threads should be configurable.
	5)      There should be an independence from the rest of the code base.
	6)      We should be able to make use of custom thread pools or use managed thread pools from the application server.
	7)      Then there is a relatively minor issue with read-consistency for near-real-time data that turns out to be a real head-ache.  This can be done by either: using the transaction semantics of the underlying data store or modifying all SQL requests and cache interactions with a timestamp and/or transaction id of some sort.  E.g. when an MDX requests begins it asks the underlying data store for the id of the last completed transaction that modified data and keeps this in a request-scope available to all threads.  Then it appends "changedTxId <= ${lastTxIdWhenFirstEntered}" to each WHERE clause.  If however we use the underlying data store's transactions then we must keep open the JDBC Connection for the duration of the request reusing it on the same thread for each interaction with that data store.
	Now, I think that the best way to take advantage of multiple threads in the storage system is NOT launching multiple SQLs on the same star schema but different aggregations but rather to use partitioning of data.  That is to segment the cell data (and maybe dimension data) based on values of certain columns.  For example year<2007 and year=2007 in  two different partitions.  This can be introduced slowly by simply making a RolapStar one Partition for the moment.  Having said that aggregation tables are also a type of Partition and hitting two of them at once should be quite easy.
	So the design I am introducing has the following features:
	1) A scope for "request" or "interaction" that is larger than the Thread that begins it.  Since this is similar to a transaction I've called it a Tx.  See the mondrian.tx package.  Each sub-system in Mondrian can enlist a representation of itself in the Tx.
	2) Break up the different tasks performed into Task objects that can be run potentially in parallel.  Allow a set of Tasks to be tied to the same Thread so that the same JDBC Connection can be used for all of them for read-consistency and cleaned up at the end of the Tx.  This is done declaratively so the implementation can be changed easily.  The implementation can also ensure that the J2EE context is passed onto separate threads (JNDI, context class loader etc).
	3) A system of fail-quick locks at the Tx scope rather than just Thread scope.  
	If this is worth persuing as a design for the next version then good.  If not I'll stop now.


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