pcb-rnd knowledge pool


Data model: why not sql?

sql by Tibor 'Igor2' Palinkas on 2017-07-12

Tags: insight, sql, data model, data, model, file format, file, format

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Abstract: Rationale behind the decision that the data model is not based on SQL and not stored in an sqlite database.

  Question on geda-user:

 If you're going to replace the entire data model, why not use SQLite?
 This would give you an almost free replacement for the convoluted and
 buggy rtree and undo implementations as well as providing file format
 accessible to almost every language anyone might care to use.

First of all: my goal is exactly not to rewrite the whole data model in one big go, but to gradually upgrade it and slowly replace elements with subcircuits while keeping everything compatible and working all the time. I also want to keep the good part and replace the bad parts only. Glib is already replaced, and I am going to keep rtree. If you want to learn more about the process, please read the oldest devblog entry I linked in the other mail.

Why not SQL: because I prefer simplicity, portability and want to cut down mega-lib dependencies instead of introducing more of them. Sqlite is 50k sloc, while the complete pcb-rnd source is 200k sloc. If you want to use or contribute to projects where this does not matter, please chose gEDA/PCB or kicad.

Purpose/functionality/capability: my opinion is that sqlite, and sql in general would be an inefficient, bloated solution that would attempt to fix something that's not really broken, taking away energies from fields where we do have things to fix or implement. In return sql is not that efficient on spatial data as people love to believe^1. Just because it's huge and popular and everyone tries to use it doesn't mean it's the good solution for every possible problem.

"Don't fix what's not broken" (especially not with a worse solution):

(Note: I have plans to rewrite parts of the undo engine to make it more extensible from plugins (cost estimation: 20..30 hours), but it's somehwat unrelated.)


If you want sqlite, that's not pcb-rnd, that's another project. Levente once started such a project but it didn't get too far - maybe go and pick that up. Or try selling the idea to mainline or kicad. Or fork kicad or mainline or pcb-rnd, rename, add sql, see if users are really turned on by it. You said sqlite is an "almost free replacement", so this must be a real quick project for you.


^1: we did test that once for a challenge24 task, with postgresql's spatial support and the result was so disappointing that we ended up implementing a custom solution in C. If you disagree, and think sql will be more efficient than rtree: go and implement a script that loads a complex board into sql and execute and time 1M screen-searches with the rtree code and the sql version. Although other disadvantages of sql would make it a no-go for pcb-rnd even if you could get similar efficiency, it'd be still an interesting result to achieve!