Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Long Running Transactions

I have been experimenting recently with long running transactions and am intrigued by its potential. The term 'long running transaction' is loaded with interpretations, so let me explain. Normally, when one thinks of a long running transaction, they think of a set of operations that can be undone. The implications of which are domain/implementation specific.

However, I am experimenting with atomic optimistic long running transactions - like a database transaction that spans multiple HTTP requests. The key requirement here is that it is optimistic. This means there are no resource locks used across the requests, allowing concurrent access and non-conflicting modification.

What makes this interesting, is when using a web interface to manipulate a complex structure. While other approaches would have the structure copied into session memory or track undo operations, this utilizes the indexes already present in the store (RDF in this case) and there is no need to track or even develop complicated undo behaviour. We are all familiar with the classic cancel/apply or restore/save buttons of local applications that span an application or set of dialogs. With optimistic long running transactions, this same experience can be used in a web application.

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