Handling large datastore search

Dave Angel davea at ieee.org
Wed Nov 4 13:13:14 CET 2009

(This reply was offline, but I forwarded parts so that others with 
Google App Engine experience might jump in)

Ahmed Barakat wrote:
> <snip...>
> .... but I was trying to make use of everything provided by App engine.
> <snip>
> On Wed, Nov 4, 2009 at 1:27 AM, Dave Angel <davea at ieee.org> wrote:
>> Ahmed Barakat wrote:
>>> In case I have a  huge datastore (10000 entries, each entry has like 6
>>> properties), what is the best way
>>> to handle the search within such a huge datastore, and what if I want to
>>> make a generic search, for example
>>> you write a word and i use it to search within all properties I have for
>>> all
>>> entries?
>>> Is the conversion to XML a good solution, or it is not?
>>> sorry for being new to web development, and python.
>>> Thanks in advance.
>> I don't see anything about your query which is specific to web development,
>> and there's no need to be apologetic for being new anyway.
>> One person's "huge" is another person's "pretty large."  I'd say 10000
>> items is pretty small if you're working on the desktop, as you can readily
>> hold all the data in "memory."  I edit text files bigger than that.   But
>> I'll assume your data really is huge, or will grow to be huge, or is an
>> environment which treats it as huge.
>> When you're parsing large amounts of data, there are always tradeoffs
>> between performance and other characteristics, usually size and complexity.
>>  If you have lots of data, you're probably best off by using a standard code
>> system -- a real database.  The developers of such things have decades of
>> experience in making certain things fast, reliable, and self-consistent.
>> But considering only speed here, I have to point out that you have to
>> understand databases, and your particular model of database, pretty well to
>> really benefit from all the performance tricks in there.  Keeping it
>> abstract, you specify what parts of the data you care about fast random
>> access to.  If you want fast search access to "all" of it, your database
>> will generally be huge, and very slow to updates.  And the best way to avoid
>> that is to pick a database mechanism that best fits your search mechanism.
>> I hate to think how many man-centuries Google has dedicated to getting fast
>> random word access to its *enormous* database.  I'm sure they did not build
>> on a standard relational model.
>> If you plan to do it yourself, I'd say the last thing you want to do is use
>> XML.  XML may be convenient way to store self-describing data, but it's not
>> quick to parse large amounts of it.  Instead, store the raw data in text
>> form, with separate index files describing what is where.  Anything that's
>> indexed will be found rapidly, while anything that isn't will require search
>> of the raw data.
>> There are algorithms for searching raw data that are faster than scanning
>> every byte, but a relevant index will almost always be faster.
>> DaveA
Clearly, you left a few things out of your original query.  Now that you 
mention App Engine, I'm guessing you meant Google's Datastore and that 
this whole query is about building a Google app.  So many of my comments 
don't apply, because I was talking about a desktop environment, using 
(or not using) a traditional (relational) database.

I've never used Google's AppEngine, and never done a database web-app.  
So I'm the wrong person to give more than general advice.

Google's Datastore is apparently both more and less powerful than a 
relational database, and web apps have very different tradeoffs.  So you 
need to respecify the problem, giviing the full requirements first, and 
maybe somebody with more relevant experience will then respond.

Meanwhile, try the following links, and see if any of them help.



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