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Re: Oracle Style packages on postgres

From: Bruce Momjian <pgman(at)candle(dot)pha(dot)pa(dot)us>
To: Bruce Momjian <pgman(at)candle(dot)pha(dot)pa(dot)us>
Cc: Dave Held <dave(dot)held(at)arraysg(dot)com>, pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: Oracle Style packages on postgres
Date: 2005-05-27 22:01:26
Message-ID: 200505272201.j4RM1Qn25182@candle.pha.pa.us (view raw or flat)
Thread:
Lists: pgsql-hackers
Added to TODO:

* Add the features of packages
        o  Make private objects accessable only to objects in the same schema
        o  Allow current_schema.objname to access current schema objects
        o  Add session variables
        o  Allow nested schemas


---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bruce Momjian wrote:
> 
> OK, so it seems we need:
> 
> 	o  make private objects accessable only to objects
> 	   in the same schema
> 	o  Allow current_schema.objname to access current 
> 	   schema objects
> 	o  session variables
> 	o  nested schemas?
> 
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 
> Dave Held wrote:
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: Bruce Momjian [mailto:pgman(at)candle(dot)pha(dot)pa(dot)us]
> > > Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2005 8:43 AM
> > > To: Thomas Hallgren
> > > Cc: Tom Lane; rmm(at)sqlisor(dot)com; pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org
> > > Subject: Re: [HACKERS] Oracle Style packages on postgres
> > > 
> > > [...]
> > > I suppose.  I think we should focus on the use cases for Oracle
> > > packages, rather than the specific functionality it provides. 
> > > What things do people need PostgreSQL to do that it already
> > > doesn't do?
> > 
> > Is that really the best way to go about things?  Already RDBMSes
> > are patchwork quilts of functionality.  Is merely adding another
> > patch the most elegant way to evolve the database?  The problem is
> > that Oracle et al are trying to be ORDBMSes and aren't exactly sure
> > what the best way to go is.  Instead of trying to formulate a 
> > rational plan for what an ORDBMS should even look like, they simply
> > look at what would work with their existing infrastructure and tack
> > on features.  Then Postgres plays the copycat game.  Instead of
> > trying to play catch-up with Oracle, why not beat them at their own
> > game?
> > 
> > What packages provide is encapsulation.  Hiding the data from the
> > user and forcing him/her to use the public interface (methods).
> > That is an important and admirable OO feature.  Some people think
> > that using the DB's security model can achieve the same thing.  It
> > can't, exactly, but there's an important lesson to be learned from
> > the suggestion.  The problem is that OOP is a *programming* paradigm,
> > and a database is not a *programming language*.  In a programming
> > language, there really is no such thing as "security".  There is 
> > only "visibility" and "accessibility".  Private methods in an OOP
> > language do not provide *security*; they only limit *accessibility*.
> > Like so many other differences between the relational model and the
> > OOP model, there is an impedance mismatch here.  However, there is
> > also opportunity.
> > 
> > In an OOPL, you can say: "Users can call this method from here, but
> > not from there."  What you *can't* say is: "User X can call this
> > method, but User Y cannot."  As you can see, these are orthogonal
> > concepts.  You could call the first "accessibility by location" and
> > the second "accessibility by authentication".  An ORDBMS should
> > support both.  "Private" does not respect your identity, only your
> > calling location.  An ACL does not respect your calling scope, only
> > your identity.  A system that has both is clearly more flexible than
> > one that only has one or the other.
> > 
> > Now what you need to keep in mind is that each visibility model 
> > serves a different purpose.  The purpose of a security model is to 
> > limit *who* can see/touch certain data because the data has intrinsic 
> > value.  The purpose of an accessibility model is to limit *where* and 
> > *how* data can be seen/touched in order to preserve *program 
> > invariants*.  So if you have an object (or tuple!) that records the 
> > start and stop time of some process, it is probably a logical 
> > invariant that the stop time is greater than or equal to the start 
> > time.  For this reason, in a PL, you would encapsulate these fields 
> > (attributes) and only provide controlled access to update them that 
> > checks and preserves the invariant, *no matter who you are*.  You 
> > don't want a superuser violating this invariant any more than Sue 
> > User.
> > 
> > Now you might object that constraints allow you to preserve 
> > invariants as well, and indeed they do.  But constraints do not
> > respect calling scope.  Suppose there is a process that needs to
> > update the timestamps in a way that temporarily breaks the invariant
> > but restores it afterwards.  The only way to effect this in a
> > constraint environment is to drop the constraint, perform the
> > operation, and restore it.  However, dropping a constraint is not an
> > ideal solution because there may be other unprivileged processes 
> > operating on the relation that still need the constraint to be 
> > enforced.  There is no way to say: "There is a priviledged class of 
> > methods that is allowed to violate this constraint because they are 
> > trusted to restore it upon completion."  Note that this is different
> > from saying "There is a priviledged class of users that is allowed
> > to violate this constraint."  If you try to do something like give
> > read-only access to everybody and only write access to one user and
> > define that user to be the owner of the methods that update the data,
> > you have to follow the convention that that user only operates 
> > through the defined interface, and doesn't hack the data directly.
> > That's because user-level accessibility is not the same as scope-
> > level accessibility.  Whereas, if you define something like a
> > package, and say: "Package X is allowed full and complete access
> > to relation Y", and stick the interface methods in X, you still have
> > all the user-level security you want while preserving the invariants
> > in the most elegant way.
> > 
> > So you can think of a package as a scope in a programming language.
> > It's like a user, but it is not a user.  A user has privileges that
> > cut across scopes.  Now, whether packages should be different from
> > schemas is a whole different ballgame.  The purpose of a schema in
> > Postgres is not entirely clear to me.  There's lots of different ways
> > to use schemas, and there is no obvious best way to use them.  In 
> > order to implement the accessibility features of packages, schemas
> > would have to be changed considerably.  Probably a lot of users would
> > be unhappy if schemas were changed in that way.  My guess is that
> > this would not be a good idea.
> > 
> > I think we can get some guidance from PLs.  C++ is what you call a
> > "multi-paradigm language".  You can do everything from assembly to
> > metaprogramming in C++.  As such, it is very loose and open in some
> > respects.  C++ has two kinds of scopes: it has classes and namespaces.
> > Members of a class are encapsulated and support data hiding.  Members
> > of a namespace are only loosely grouped and do not support data hiding
> > explicitly.  Namespaces exist primarily to avoid name collisions.
> > 
> > Java, on the other hand, decided that for OOP purity, everything must
> > be a class.  That would be like making schemas into packages and
> > imposing accessibility rules on them.  At the end of the day, I think
> > many PL design experts agree that making everything a class is not
> > necessarily the best way to go.
> > 
> > So schemas can be like C++ namespaces - they provide a means to 
> > loosely group related objects and help avoid name collisions.  So
> > the package could be like a class - they provide OOP-like 
> > encapsulation via accessibility rules.  However, that doesn't mean
> > that nested schemas wouldn't also be a good thing.  In C++, nested
> > namespaces are extremely useful when one layer of scoping does not
> > sufficiently partition the namespace to avoid frequent name 
> > collisions.  I think the same is true of Postgres.  I certainly would
> > like to be able to use nested schema names in several contexts.  
> > Instead, I have to make a choice between making different schemas, 
> > or making different name prefixes.  I wouldn't even mind if nested
> > schemas were only allowed to contain schemas except at the leaves of
> > the tree.  Another feature that is very useful is the "using clause".
> > Combined with nested namespaces, this is a very powerful way to give
> > programmers/dbas control over names.  You can give everything the
> > most natural name, and just put it in the appropriate namespace,
> > and use the namespace that is relevant to the given task at hand.
> > 
> > So consider this example:
> > 
> > Tables:
> >   etl.import.record
> >   etl.export.record
> > 
> > As you can imagine, I don't really want to make an 'import' and
> > 'export' schema at the top level.  There's several tables in
> > each schema, but that should illustrate the point.  Then, when
> > constructing queries, it would be nice to be able to do this:
> > 
> >  USING etl.import
> >        ;
> > SELECT *
> >   FROM record
> >   JOIN header ON ...
> >   JOIN file ON ...
> >        ;
> > 
> > The effect of a USING clause would be to import the schema names
> > into the public namespace for the duration of the transaction.  If
> > that leads to ambiguous names, then the parser/planner should emit an 
> > error.
> > 
> > __
> > David B. Held
> > Software Engineer/Array Services Group
> > 200 14th Ave. East,  Sartell, MN 56377
> > 320.534.3637 320.253.7800 800.752.8129
> > 
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> 
> -- 
>   Bruce Momjian                        |  http://candle.pha.pa.us
>   pgman(at)candle(dot)pha(dot)pa(dot)us               |  (610) 359-1001
>   +  If your life is a hard drive,     |  13 Roberts Road
>   +  Christ can be your backup.        |  Newtown Square, Pennsylvania 19073
> 
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-- 
  Bruce Momjian                        |  http://candle.pha.pa.us
  pgman(at)candle(dot)pha(dot)pa(dot)us               |  (610) 359-1001
  +  If your life is a hard drive,     |  13 Roberts Road
  +  Christ can be your backup.        |  Newtown Square, Pennsylvania 19073

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