Using Storm with Django

I’ve been playing around with Django a bit for work recently, which has been interesting to see what choices they’ve made differently to Zope 3.  There were a few things that surprised me:

  • The ORM and database layer defaults to autocommit mode rather than using transactions.  This seems like an odd choice given that all the major free databases support transactions these days.  While autocommit might work fine when a web application is under light use, it is a recipe for problems at higher loads.  By using transactions that last for the duration of the request, the testing you do is more likely to help with the high load situations.
  • While there is a middleware class to enable request-duration transactions, it only covers the database connection.  There is no global transaction manager to coordinate multiple DB connections or other resources.
  • The ORM appears to only support a single connection for a request.  While this is the most common case and should be easy to code with, allowing an application to expand past this limit seems prudent.
  • The tutorial promotes schema generation from Python models, which I feel is the wrong choice for any application that is likely to evolve over time (i.e. pretty much every application).  I’ve written about this previously and believe that migration based schema management is a more workable solution.
  • It poorly reinvents thread local storage in a few places.  This isn’t too surprising for things that existed prior to Python 2.4, and probably isn’t a problem for its default mode of operation.

Other than these things I’ve noticed so far, it looks like a nice framework.

Integrating Storm

I’ve been doing a bit of work to make it easy to use Storm with Django.  I posted some initial details on the mailing list.  The initial code has been published on Launchpad but is not yet ready to merge. Some of the main details include:

  • A middleware class that integrates the Zope global transaction manager (which requires just the zope.interface and transaction packages).  There doesn’t appear to be any equivalent functionality in Django, and this made it possible to reuse the existing integration code (an approach that has been taken to use Storm with Pylons).  It will also make it easier to take advantage of other future improvements (e.g. only committing stores that are used in a transaction, two phase commit).
  • Stores can be configured through the application’s Django settings file, and are managed as long lived per-thread connections.
  • A simple get_store(name) function is provided for accessing per-thread stores within view code.

What this doesn’t do yet is provide much integration with existing Django functionality (e.g. django.contrib.admin).  I plan to try and get some of these bits working in the near future.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Raf

    Storm looked alright until I found out that you need to type in the SQL manually even though you have a set of nice models to work with already defined :/

  2. James Henstridge

    Raf: I’d agree that the current state of schema management in Storm is not that great (i.e. it is non-existent). However, I believe that schema generation as found in Django is not the right solution: a migration framework is what is needed for long lived applications (e.g. like Ruby on Rails).

  3. Torsten Bronger

    Maybe Django Evolution will improve the situation.

  4. James Henstridge

    Django Evolution looks interesting, but seems to keep some of the problems of schema generation: if you do two deployments of an application at different times with different versions, running “syncdb” at that time, then upgrade both deployments to the latest version and evolve the schemas are you sure that the two schemas are identical?

    If you set up both deployments using a single base schema with migrations run on top in the same order, then the answer will be yes. If they were deployed with different base schemas and a different set of migrations, then it depends on how good Django Evolution is 🙂

  5. Eduardo Willians

    Awesome! Congrats, as Django is becoming the de facto option for web development, integrating Storm with Django will help both projects, especially because both are excellent.

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