Differences from KInterbasDB

No need for initialization

FDB doesn’t support various configurations of automatic type translations like KDB, so it’s no longer necessary to initialize the driver before any feature is used.

Distributed transactions

Support for Distributed Transactions works in slightly differently than in KDB. FDB uses ConnectionGroup class like KDB with the same interface, but DT is not bound to main transaction of individual connections managed by group. That means that Cursor instances obtained from Connection don’t work in DT if connection is part of ConnectionGroup, but work normally in connection context. To get Cursor for specific connection that works in DT, use fdb.ConnectionGroup.cursor() method and pass the connection as parameter. We believe that this arrangement is more logical and flexible than KDB’s way.

Transaction context for cursor objects depends on how cursor is obtained/created:

  1. fdb.Connection.cursor() - Works in context of “main” transaction for connection.
  2. fdb.Transaction.cursor() - Works in context of this transaction.
  3. fdb.ConnectionGroup.cursor() - Works in context of Distributed Transaction

Stream BLOBs

Firebird supports two types of BLOBs, stream and segmented. The database stores segmented BLOBs in chunks. Each chunk starts with a two byte length indicator followed by however many bytes of data were passed as a segment. Stream BLOBs are stored as a continuous array of data bytes with no length indicators included. Both types of BLOBs could be accessed by the same API functions, but only stream BLOBs support seek operation (via isc_seek_blob function).

FDB implements stream BLOBs as file-like objects. On input, you can simply pass any file-like object (only ‘read’ method required) as parameter value for BLOB column. For example:

f = open('filename.ext', 'rb')
cur.execute('insert into T (MyBLOB) values (?)',[f])

On output, stream BLOBs are represented by BlobReader instances on request. To request streamed access to BLOB, you have to use prepared statement for your query and call its set_stream_blob(column_name) method. Stream access is not allowed for cursors because cursors cache prepared statements internally, which would lead to dangerous situations (BlobReader life-time management) and anomalies (stream access when it’s not required). Example:

p = cursor.prep('select first 1 MyBLOB from T')
row = cur.fetchone()
blob_reader = row[1]
print blob_reader.readlines()

Whenever you use stream access to BLOB, FDB opens or creates the underlying BLOB value as stream one. On input it means that true stream BLOB is created in database, but on output it depends on how BLOB value was actually created. If BLOB was created as stream one, you can use the seek method of BlobReader, but if it was created as regular BLOB, any call to seek will raise an error:

- invalid ARRAY or BLOB operation
- invalid BLOB type for operation

You can read BLOBs created as stream ones as fully materialized, and regular ones in stream mode (without seek) without any problems, and that same apply for input - you can create values in the same column as stream or regular ones interchangeably. From your point of view, stream BLOBs are just different interface to BLOB values, with single exception - BlobReader.seek() will throw an exception if you’d call it on BLOB value that was not created as stream BLOB.

To work with stream BLOBs, you don’t need to use cursor.set_type_trans_in/out methods, i.e. calls to:

cur.set_type_trans_in ({'BLOB': {'mode': 'stream'}})
cur.set_type_trans_out({'BLOB': {'mode': 'stream'}})

To write (create) stream BLOB value, simply pass file-like object as parameter to your INSERT/UPDATE statements where BLOB value is expected. To read BLOB value as stream, use prepared statement and register interest to get BlobReader instead fully materialized value via set_stream_blob() calls for each BLOB value (column name) you want to get this way.

BlobReader supports iteration protocol, and read(), readline(), readlines(), seek(), tell(), flush() (as noop) and close() methods. It does NOT support chunks() method of KInterbasDB.BlobReader.

It is not strictly necessary to close BlobReader instances explicitly. A BlobReader object will be automatically closed by its __del__ method when it goes out of scope, or when its Connection, PreparedStatement closes, whichever comes first. However, it is always a better idea to close resources explicitly (via try...finally) than to rely on artifacts of the Python implementation. You will also encounter errors if BLOB value was deleted from database before BlobReader is closed, so the odds that this may happen are higher if you do not close it explicitly.

Services API

Support for Firebird Services was completelly reworked in FDB.

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