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Unicorn Document and Graph Database

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UNICORN

Unicorn is a simple and flexible abstraction of BigTable-like database such as Cassandra, HBase, and Accumulo. Beyond a unified interface to various database systems, Unicorn provides easy-to-use document data model and MongoDB-like API. Moreover, Unicorn supports directed property multigraphs and documents can just be vertices in a graph.

Agility, flexibility and easy to use are our key design goals. With different storage engine, we can achieve different strategies on consistency, replication, etc.

With the built-in document and graph data models, developers can focus on the business logic rather than work with tedious key-value pair manipulations. Of course, developers are still free to use key-value pairs for flexibility in some special cases.

Unicorn is implemented in Scala and can be used as a client-side library without overhead. Unicorn also provides a shell for quick access of database. The code snippets in this document can be directly run in the Shell. A REST API, in the module Rhino, is also provided to non-Scala users.

For analytics, Unicorn data can be exported as RDDs in Spark. These RDDs can also converted to DataFrames or Datasets, which support SQL queries. Unicorn graphs can by analyzed by Spark GraphX too.

To use Unicorn as a library, add the following to SBT build file.

libraryDependencies += "com.github.haifengl" % "unicorn-unibase_2.11" % "2.0.0"

If you need additional HBase-only features, please link to the module Narwhal .

libraryDependencies += "com.github.haifengl" % "unicorn-narwhal_2.11" % "2.0.0"

With Narwhal, advanced features such as time travel, rollback, counters, server side filter, etc. are available. The user can also export the data to Spark as RDD for large scale analytics. Graphs can be analyzed too with Spark GraphX.

To use only JSON library,

libraryDependencies += "com.github.haifengl" % "unicorn-json_2.11" % "2.0.0"

Download

Get pre-packaged Unicorn in universal tarball from thereleases page.

If you would like to build Unicorn from source, please first install Java, Scala and SBT. Then clone the repo and build the package:

git clone https://github.com/haifengl/unicorn.git cd unicorn ./unicorn.sh

which also starts the Shell.

Unicorn runs on both Windows and UNIX-like systems (e.g. Linux, Mac OS). All you need is to have Java installed on your system PATH , or the JAVA_HOME environment variable pointing to a Java installation.

Shell

Unicorn comes with an interactive shell. In the home directory of Unicorn, type

./bin/unicorn

to enter the shell, which is based on Scala interpreter. So you can run any valid Scala expressions in the shell. In the simplest case, you can use it as a calculator. Besides, all high-level Unicorn operators are predefined in the shell. Be default, the shell uses up to 4GB memory. If you need more memory to handle large data, use the option -J-Xmx . For example,

./bin/unicorn -J-Xmx8192M

You can also modify the configuration file ./conf/application.ini for the memory and other JVM settings.

In the shell, type :help to print Scala interpreter help information. To exit the shell, type :quit.

Connecting to Database

Suppose that hbase-site.xml and hbase-default.xml can be found on the CLASSPATH , one can connect to HBase as simple as

val db = HBase()

The user may also pass a Configuration object to HBase() if HBase configuration files are not in the CLASSPATH .

To connect to Cassandra, please enables Thrift by configuring start_rpc to true in the cassandra.yaml file, which is false by default after Cassandra 2.0.

val db = Cassandra("127.0.0.1", 9160)

To connect to Accumulo,

val db = Accumulo("instance", "zookeeper", "user", "password")

where the first parameter is the Accumulo instance name and the second is the ZooKeeper connection string.

An interesting feature of Accumulo is to create a mock instance that holds all data in memory, and will not retain any data or settings between runs. It presently does not enforce users, logins, permissions, etc. This is very convenient for test. This doesn’t even require an installation of Accumulo. To create a mock instance, simply do

val db = Accumulo()

With a database instance, we can create, drop, truncate, and compact a table. We can also test if a table exists.

db.createTable("test_table", "cf1", "cf2") val table = db("test_table") table("row1", "cf1", "c1") = "data" db.dropTable("test_table")

Here we first create a table with two column families. We can also pass a Properties object for additional table configuration, which usually depends on the backend system. For example, sharding and replication strategies, compression, time-to-live (TTL), etc. Then we get the table object, put some data, and finally drop the table. In what follows, we will go through the data manipulation APIs.

BigTable-like API

In BigTable-like databases, data are stored in tables, which are made of rows and columns. Columns are grouped into column families. A column name is made of its column family prefix and a qualifier. The column family prefix must be composed of printable characters. The column qualifiers can be made of any arbitrary bytes. In Cassandra and HBase, column families must be declared up front at schema definition time whereas new columns can bed added to any column family without pre-announcing them. In contrast, column family are not static in Accumulo and can be created on the fly. The only way to get a complete set of columns that exist for a column family is to process all the rows.

A cell’s content is an uninterpreted array of bytes. And table cells are versioned. A (row, column, version) tuple exactly specifies a cell. The version is specified using a long integer. Typically this long contains timestamps.

The trait unicorn.bigtable.BigTable defines basic operations on a table such as Get , Put , and Delete . The corresponding implementations are in unicorn.bigtable.cassandra.CassandraTable , unicorn.bigtable.hbase.HBaseTable , and unicorn.bigtable.accumulo.AccumuloTable .

/** Get one or more columns of a column family. If columns is empty, get all columns in the column family. */ def get(row: ByteArray, family: String, columns: ByteArray*): Seq[Column]  /** Get all columns in one or more column families. If families is empty, get all column families. */ def get(row: ByteArray, families: Seq[(String, Seq[ByteArray])] = Seq.empty): Seq[ColumnFamily]  /** Upsert a value. */ def put(row: ByteArray, family: String, column: ByteArray, value: ByteArray, timestamp: Long): Unit  /** Upsert values. */ def put(row: ByteArray, family: String, columns: Column*): Unit  /** Upsert values. */ def put(row: ByteArray, families: Seq[ColumnFamily] = Seq.empty): Unit  /** Delete the columns of a row. If columns is empty, delete all columns in the family. */ def delete(row: ByteArray, family: String, columns: ByteArray*): Unit  /** Delete the columns of a row. If families is empty, delete the whole row. */ def delete(row: ByteArray, families: Seq[(String, Seq[ByteArray])] = Seq.empty): Unit

Setting timestamp as 0L , Put creates a new version of a cell with the server’s currentTimeMillis (for Cassandra, it is caller’s machine time). But the user may specify the version on a per-column level. The user-provided version may be a time in the past or the future, or a non-time purpose long value.

def update(row: ByteArray, family: String, column: ByteArray, value: ByteArray): Unit

The helper function update is provided as a syntactic sugar so that the user can put a value in the way

table(row, family, column) = value

In this case, timestamp is always set as the current machine time.

Delete can happen on a specific version of a cell or all versions. Deletes work by creating tombstone markers. Once a tombstone marker is set, the “deleted” cells become effectively invisible for Get operations but are not immediately removed from store files. Note that there is a snag with the tombstone approach, namely “deletes mask puts”. Once a tombstone marker is set, even puts after the delete will be masked by the delete tombstone. Performing the put will not fail. However when you do a Get , the Put has no effect but will start working after the major compaction, which will really remove deletes and tombstone markers.

For these APIs, there are also corresponding batch mode operations that work on multiple rows. However, the implementation may or may not optimize the batch operations. In particular, Accumulo does optimize it in parallel.

Besides the basic operations, advanced features that are not available on all backend systems are organized into various traits.

Time Travel

By default, when doing a Get , the cell whose version has the largest value is returned. It is possible to return more than one version or to return versions other than the latest. These special methods are defined in trait TimeTravel , which is supported by HBase.

Scan

HBase and Accumulo support the Scan operation that fetches zero or more rows of a table. In fact, A Get is simply a Scan limited by the API to one row in these systems. The trait RowScan provides operations to scan the whole table, or a range specified by the start and stop row key, or rows with a given prefix.

Filter Scan

HBase provides advanced filtering functionality when reading data using Get or Scan operations, which return a subset of results to the client. While this does not reduce server-side IO, it does reduce network bandwidth and reduces the amount of data the client needs to process.

The filter operators ( Equal , NotEqual , Greater , GreaterOrEqual , Less , LessOrEqual ) and logic operators ( And , Or ) are defined in trait ScanFilter . The enhanced Get and Scan operators with filter parameter are defined in FilterScan .

Intra Row Scan

In BigTable, a row could have millions columns. Cassandra actually supports up to 2 billions columns. In such a wide columnar environment, intra row scan is an useful operation in some use cases. Both HBase and Cassandra support IntraRowScan trait that can scan columns of given range in a row (inside a column family).

Rollback

HBaseTable implements the Rollback trait that defines the methods to rollback cell(s) to previous version.

Counter

A counter is a special column used to store a 64 bit integer that is changed in increments. Both HBase and Cassandra support counters.

To use counters in Cassandra, the user has to define a column family whose columns will act as counters.

Append

HBase support the Append operation that appends data to a cell. Note that this operation does not appear atomic to readers. Appends are done under a single row lock, so write operations to a row are synchronized, but readers do not take row locks so get and scan operations can see this operation partially completed.

Cell Level Security

Accumulo and HBase support cell level security that provides fine grained access control. Cells can have visibility labels, which is used to determine whether a given user meets the security requirements to read the value. This enables data of various security levels to be stored within the same row, and users of varying degrees of access to query the same table, while preserving data confidentiality.

Security labels consist of a set of user-defined tokens that are required to read the value the label is associated with. The set of tokens required can be specified using syntax that supports logical AND and OR combinations of tokens, as well as nesting groups of tokens together.

JSON

Although Unicorn provides a modular and unified interface to various BigTable-like systems, it is still a very low level API to manipulate data. A more productive way to use Unicorn is through the rich, flexible, and easy-to-use document data model. A document is essentially a JSON object with a unique key (corresponding to the row key). With document data model, the application developers will focus on the business logic while Unicorn efficiently maps documents to key-value pairs in BigTable. In this section, we first introduce Unicorn’s JSON data types and APIs. In the next section, we will discuss the document API, which is compatible with MongoDB.

JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is a lightweight data-interchange format. It is easy for humans to read and write. It is easy for machines to parse and generate. JSON is a text format that is completely language independent but uses conventions that are familiar to programmers of the C-family of languages,

JSON has only types of string , number , boolean , object , array , and null . Unicorn includes additional types such as date , int , long , double , counter , binary , UUID , ObjectId (as in BSON), etc.

In Unicorn, it is very easy to parse a JSON object:

val doc =   json"""   {     "store": {       "book": [         {           "category": "reference",           "author": "Nigel Rees",           "title": "Sayings of the Century",           "price": 8.95         },         {           "category": "fiction",           "author": "Evelyn Waugh",           "title": "Sword of Honour",           "price": 12.99         },         {           "category": "fiction",           "author": "Herman Melville",           "title": "Moby Dick",           "isbn": "0-553-21311-3",           "price": 8.99         },         {           "category": "fiction",           "author": "J. R. R. Tolkien",           "title": "The Lord of the Rings",           "isbn": "0-395-19395-8",           "price": 22.99         }       ],       "bicycle": {         "color": "red",         "price": 19.95       }     }   }   """

The interpolator json parse a string to JsObject . It is also okay to embed variable references directly in processed string literals.

val x = 1 json"""   {     "x": $x   } """

If the string is not a JSON object but any other valid JSON expression, one may use parseJson method to convert the string to JsValue .

"1".parseJson

The json interpolator can only be applied to string literals. If you want to parse a string variable, the parseJson method can always be employed. If you know the string contains a JSON object, you may also use the method parseJsObject .

val s = """{"x":1}""" s.parseJsObject

To serialize a JSON value (of type JsValue ) in compact mode, you can just use toString . To pretty print, use the method prettyPrint .

doc.toString doc.prettyPrint

With a JsObject or JsArray , you can refer to the individual elements with a variation of array syntax, like this:

doc("store")("bicycle")("color") // Use symbol instead of string doc('store)('bicycle)('color)

Note that we follow Scala’s array access convention by () rather than [] in JavaScript.

Besides, you can use the dot notation to access its fields/elements just like in JavaScript:

doc.store.bicycle.color doc.store.book(0).author

It is worth noting that we didn’t define the type/schema of the document while Scala is a strong type language. In other words, we have both the type safe features of strong type language and the flexibility of dynamic language in Unicorn’s JSON library.

If you try to access a non-exist field, JsUndefined is returned.

unicorn> doc.book res11: unicorn.json.JsValue = undefined

Although there are already several nice JSON libraries for Scala, the JSON objects are immutable by design, which is a natural choice for a functional language. However, Unicorn is designed for database, where data mutation is necessary. Therefore, JsObject and JsArray are mutable data structures in Unicorn. You can set/add a field just like in JavaScript:

json.store.bicycle.color = "green"

To delete a field from JsObject , use remove method:

doc.store.book(0) remove "price"

It is same as setting it JsUndefined :

doc.store.book(0).price = JsUndefined

To delete an element from JsArray , the remove method will effectively remove it from the array. However, setting an element to undefined doesn’t reduce the array size.

// delete the first element and array size is smaller doc.store.book.remove(0) // set the first element to undefined but array size keeps same doc.store.book(0) = JsUndefined

It is also possible to append an element or another array to JsArray :

val a = JsArray(1, 2, 3, 4) a += 5  a ++= JsArray(5, 6)

Common iterative operations such as foreach , map , reduce can be applied to JsArray too.

doc.store.book.asInstanceOf[JsArray].foreach { book =>  println(book.price) }

Because Scala is a static language, it is impossible to know doc.store.book is an array at compile time. So it is typed as generic JsValue , which is the parent type of specific JSON data types. Therefore, we use asInstanceOf[JsArray] to convert it to JsArray in order to use foreach .

With Unicorn, we can also look up field in the current object and all descendants:

unicorn> doc // "price" res29: unicorn.json.JsArray = [8.95,12.99,8.99,22.99,19.95]

For more advanced query operations, JSONPath can be employed.

JSONPath

JSONPath is a means of using XPath-like syntax to query JSON structures. JSONPath expressions always refer to a JSON structure in the same way as XPath expression are used in combination with an XML document.

val jspath = JsonPath(doc)

Since a JSON structure is usually anonymous and doesn’t necessarily have a "root member object" JSONPath assumes the abstract name $ assigned to the outer level object. Besides, @ refers to the current object/element.

// the authors of all books in the store jspath("$.store.book[*].author")  // all authors jspath("$..author")  // all things in store jspath("$.store.*")  // the price of everything in the store jspath("$.store..price")  // the third book jspath("$..book[2]")  // the last book in order jspath("$..book[-1:]")  // the first two books jspath("$..book[0,1]") jspath("$..book[:2]")  // filter all books with isbn number jspath("$..book[?(@.isbn)]")  //filter all books cheaper than 10 jspath("$..book[?(@.price<10)]")  // all members of JSON structure jspath("$..*")

Our JSONPath parser supports all queries except for queries that rely on expressions of the underlying language like $..book[(@.length-1)] . However, there’s usually a ready workaround as you can execute the same query using $..book[-1:] .

Another deviation from JSONPath is to always flatten the results of a recursive query. Using the bookstore example, typically a query of $..book will return an array with one element, the array of books. If there was another book array somewhere in the document, then $..book will return an array with two elements, both arrays of books. However, if you were to query $..book[2] for our example, you would get the second book in the first array, which assumes that the $..book result has been flattened. In Unicorn, we always flatten the result of recursive queries regardless of the context.

It is also possible to update fields with JSONPath. Currently, we support only child and array slice operators for update.

jspath("$['store']['book'][1:3]['price']") = 30

Document API

Unicorn’s document APIs are defined in package unicorn.unibase , which is independent of backend storage engine. Simply pass a reference to storage engine to Unibase() , which provides the interface of document model.

In relational database, a table is a set of tuples that have the same attributes. In Unibase, a table contains documents, which are JSON objects and may have nested objects and/or arrays. Besides, the tables in Unibase do not enforce a schema. Documents in a table may have different fields. Typically, all documents in a collection are of similar or related purpose. Moreover, documents in a table must have unique IDs/keys, which is not necessary in relational databases.

In MongoDB, such a group of documents is called collection. In order to avoid the confusion with Java/Scala’s collection data structures, Unibase simply calls it table.

val db = Unibase(Accumulo()) db.createTable("worker") val workers = db("worker")

In above, we create a table worker in Unibase. Then we create a JSON object and insert it into the worker table as following. Note that we explicitly create the JsObject by specifying the fields and values instead of parsing from a JSON string. This way provides fine controls on the data types of fields.

val joe = JsObject(   "name" -> "Joe",   "gender" -> "Male",   "salary" -> 50000.0,   "address" -> JsObject(     "street" -> "1 ADP Blvd",     "city" -> "Roseland",     "state" -> "NJ",     "zip" -> "07068"   ),   "project" -> JsArray("HCM", "NoSQL", "Analytics") )  val key = workers.upsert(joe)

Each document should have a field _id as the primary key. If it is missing, the upsert operation will generate a random UUID as _id , which is returned and also added into the input JSON object:

unicorn> joe.prettyPrint res1: String = {   "address": {     "city": "Roseland",     "state": "NJ",     "zip": "07068",     "street": "1 ADP Blvd"   },   "name": "Joe",   "gender": "Male",   "salary": 50000.0,   "project": ["HCM", "NoSQL", "Analytics"],   "_id": "cc8a6a6d-4305-4b77-a776-6f70f2306d06" }

If the input object includes _id and the table already contains a document with same key, the document will be overwritten by upsert . If this is not the preferred behavior, one may use insert , which checks if the document already exists and throws an exception if so.

To make the code future proof, it is recommended to use $id , defined in Unibase package object, instead of _id in the code.

Besides UUID, one may also Int , Long , Date , String , and BSON’ ObjectId (12 bytes including 4 bytes timestamp, 3 bytes machine id, 2 bytes process id, and 3 bytes incrementer) as the primary key. One may even use a complex JSON data type such as object or array as the primary key. However, this is NOT recommended because primary keys cannot be updated once a document inserted. To achieve similar effects, the old document has to be delete and inserted again with new key. However, the old document will be permanently deleted after the major compaction, which may not be desired. Even before the document be permanently deleted, the time travel functionality is broken for this document.

To get the document back, simply treat the table as a map and use _id as the key:

unicorn> workers(key).get.prettyPrint res3: String = {   "address": {     "city": "Roseland",     "state": "NJ",     "zip": "07068",     "street": "1 ADP Blvd"   },   "name": "Joe",   "gender": "Male",   "salary": 50000.0,   "project": ["HCM", "NoSQL", "Analytics"],   "_id": "cc8a6a6d-4305-4b77-a776-6f70f2306d06" }

If the document doesn’t exist, None is returned.

To update a document, we use a MongoDB-like API:

val update = JsObject(    "$id" -> key,    "$set" -> JsObject(      "salary" -> 100000.0,      "address.street" -> "5 ADP Blvd"    ),    "$unset" -> JsObject(      "gender" -> JsTrue    ) )  workers.update(update)

The $set operator replaces the value of a field with the specified value, provided that the new field does not violate a type constraint (and the document key _id should not be set). If the field does not exist, $set will add a new field with the specified value. To specify a field in an embedded object or in an array, use dot notation. To be compatible to MongoDB, we concatenate the array name with the dot (.) and zero-based index position to specify an element of an array by the zero-based index position, which is different from the [] convention in JavaScript and JSONPath.

In MongoDB, $set will create the embedded objects as needed to fulfill the dotted path to the field. For example, for a $set {"a.b.c" : "abc"} , MongoDB will create the embedded object "a.b" if it doesn’t exist. However, we don’t support this behavior because of the performance considerations. We suggest the the alternative syntax {"a.b" : {"c" : "abc"}} , which has the equivalent effect.

If you want to use json string interpolation to create a JSON object for update , remember to escape $set and $unset by double dollar sign, e.g. $$set and $$unset .

To delete a document, use the method delete with the document key:

workers.delete(key)

Append Only

When creating a table, we may declare it append only. Such a table is write-once (i.e. the same document is never updated). Any updates to existing documents will throw exceptions. Deletes are not allowed either.

db.createTable("stock", appendOnly = true) val prices = db("stock") val trade = json"""   {     "ticker": "GOOG",     "price": 700.0,     "timestamp": ${System.currentTimeMillis}   } """ val key = prices.upsert(trade) prices.update(JsObject(   "_id" -> key,   "$set" -> JsObject(     "price" -> JsDouble(800.0)   ) ))   java.lang.UnsupportedOperationException   at unicorn.unibase.Table.update(Table.scala:320)   ... 52 elided

Multi-Tenancy

Multi-tenant tables are regular tables that enables views to be created over the table across different tenants. This option is useful to share the same physical BigTable table across many different tenants.

db.createTable("worker", multiTenant = true)

To use a multi-tenant table, the user must firstly set the tenant id, which cannot be undefined , null , boolean , counter , date , or double . The tenats only see their data in such tables.

val workers = db("worker") workers.tenant = "IBM" val ibmer = workers.upsert(json"""   {     "name": "Tom",     "age": 40   } """)  workers.tenant = "Google" val googler = workers.upsert(json"""   {     "name": "Tom",     "age": 30   } """)

Because the tenant is "Google" now, the data of tenant "IBM" are not visible.

unicorn> workers(ibmer) res5: Option[unicorn.json.JsObject] = None unicorn> workers(googler) res6: Option[unicorn.json.JsObject] = Some({"name":"Tom","age":30,"_id":"545ed4d1-280c-4b6a-a3cc-e0a3c5fc5b43"})

Switch back to "IBM", the view is different:

unicorn> workers.tenant = "IBM" workers.tenant: Option[unicorn.json.JsValue] = Some(IBM) unicorn> workers(ibmer) res8: Option[unicorn.json.JsObject] = Some({"name":"Tom","age":40,"_id":"2b7fb69f-810f-4ca7-a70f-5db767bc8e49"}) unicorn> workers(googler) res9: Option[unicorn.json.JsObject] = None

As a client-side solution, Unicorn does not enforce security on multi-tenant tables. In fact, there is no user or role concepts. It is the application’s responsibility to ensure the authorization and the authentication on the access of multi-tenant tables.

Locality

When Unicorn creates a document table, it creates only one column family by default.

db.createTable("worker",   families = Seq(Unibase.DocumentColumnFamily),   locality = Map().withDefaultValue(Unibase.DocumentColumnFamily))

where the parameter families is the list of column families, and the parameter locality , a map, tells Unicorn how to map the data to different column families. Because we have only one column families here, we simply set the default value of map is the only column family.

This schema can be customized. When documents in a table have a lot of fields and only a few fields are needed in many situations, it is a good idea to organize them into different column families based on business logic and access patterns. Such a design is more efficient because the storage engine needs scan only the necessary column family. It also limits the network data transmission.

For example, if you do not have graph data, you may want to use only one column family for both document id and data.

db.createTable("worker",   families = Seq(     "id",     "address",     "project"),   locality = Map(     Unibase.$id -> "id",     "address" -> "address",     "project" -> "project"   ).withDefaultValue(Unibase.DocumentColumnFamily))

For simplicity, Unicorn uses only the top level fields of documents to determine the locality mapping.

val joe = JsObject(   "name" -> "Joe",   "gender" -> "Male",   "salary" -> 50000.0,   "address" -> JsObject(     "street" -> "1 ADP Blvd",     "city" -> "Roseland",     "state" -> "NJ",     "zip" -> "07068"   ),   "project" -> JsArray("HCM", "NoSQL", "Analytics") )  val key = workers.upsert(joe)

We can retrieve partial documents as following, which is known as "projection" in relational database and MongoDB.

unicorn> workers(key) res17: Option[unicorn.json.JsObject] = Some({"address":{"city":"Roseland","state":"NJ","zip":"07068","street":"1 ADP Blvd"},"project":["HCM","NoSQL","Analytics"],"_id":"6df63cf3-e4dd-4381-8276-ac0c0626dc78"}) unicorn> workers(key, "address") res19: Option[unicorn.json.JsObject] = Some({"address":{"city":"Roseland","state":"NJ","zip":"07068","street":"1 ADP Blvd"},"_id":"6df63cf3-e4dd-4381-8276-ac0c0626dc78"}) unicorn> workers(key, "project") res20: Option[unicorn.json.JsObject] = Some({"project":["HCM","NoSQL","Analytics"],"_id":"6df63cf3-e4dd-4381-8276-ac0c0626dc78"})

You can retrieve data from multiple column families too.

unicorn> workers(key, "name", "address") res21: Option[unicorn.json.JsObject] = Some({"address":{"city":"Roseland","state":"NJ","zip":"07068","street":"1 ADP Blvd"},"name":"Joe","gender":"Male","salary":50000.0,"_id":"6df63cf3-e4dd-4381-8276-ac0c0626dc78"})

However, there is a semantic difference from regular projection as you may notice in the above. Even though the user asks for only name , all other fields in the same column family are returned. This is due to the design of BigTable. For example, if a specified field is a nested object, there is no easy way to read only the specified object in BigTable. Intra-row scan may help but not all BigTable implementations support it. And if there are multiple nested objects in request, we have to send multiple Get requests, which is not efficient. Instead, we return the whole object of a column family if some of its fields are in request. This is usually good enough for hot-cold data scenario. For instance of a table of events, each event has a header in a column family and event body in another column family. In many reads, we only need to access the header (the hot data). When only user is interested in the event details, we go to read the event body (the cold data). Such a design is simple and efficient. Another difference from MongoDB is that we do not support the excluded fields.

Script

We may also run Unicorn code as a shell script or batch command. The following bash script can be run directly from the command shell:

#!/bin/bash exec unicorn -nc "$0" "$@" !#  import unicorn.json._ import unicorn.bigtable._ import unicorn.bigtable.accumulo._ import unicorn.bigtable.hbase._ import unicorn.unibase._  val db = Unibase(Accumulo()) db.createTable("worker") val workers = db("worker")  val joe = JsObject(   "name" -> "Joe",   "gender" -> "Male",   "salary" -> 50000.0,   "address" -> JsObject(     "street" -> "1 ADP Blvd",     "city" -> "Roseland",     "state" -> "NJ",     "zip" -> "07068"   ),   "project" -> JsArray("HCM", "NoSQL", "Analytics") )  workers.upsert(joe)

Narwhal

Advanced document API with HBase is available in the package unicorn.narwhal . To use these features, the user should use the class Narwhal and HTable , which are subclasses of Unibase and Table , respectively.

val db = new Narwhal(HBase()) db.createTable("narwhal")  val rich = json"""   {     "owner": "Rich",     "phone": "123-456-7890",     "address": {       "street": "1 ADP Blvd.",       "city": "Roseland",       "state": "NJ"     },     "children": 2C   } """  val bucket = db("narwhal") val key = bucket.upsert(rich)

Counter

The usage of Narwhal and HTable are similar to their parent classes. Besides, additional operators are available by taking advantage of HBase’s features. Note that in the above the field children takes the value of 2C . The suffix C indicates it is a counter. You may use JsCounter to create a counter directly too. With counters, we may update them in an atomic operation. For a regular integer, we instead have to read, update, and write back, which may cause consistency problems.

val increment = json"""   {     "$$inc": {       "children": 1     }   } """  increment("_id") = key bucket.update(increment)  val doc = bucket(key).get println(doc.children)

This example will print out the new value, i.e. 3, of children . It is also okey to use a negative value in $inc operations, which effectively decreases the counter.

Rollback

Another interesting feature is that we can rollback document fields back to previous values. If a user accidentally changes a value, don’t worry. The old values are still in HBase and we can easily rollback.

val update = json"""   {     "$$set": {       "phone": "212-456-7890",       "gender": "M",       "address.street": "5 ADP Blvd."     }   } """  update("_id") = key bucket.update(update)

In the above example, we update three fields phone , gender , and address.street . Note that gender is actually a new filed. Let’s verify these fields be updated.

unicorn> bucket(key).get res11: unicorn.json.JsObject = {"children":2,"address":{"city":"Roseland","state":"NJ","street":"5 ADP Blvd."},"owner":"Rich","gender":"M","_id":"0c354c07-6e25-4b30-9cf3-9a508b6868fd","phone":"212-456-7890"} 

Now we rollback phone and gender .

val rollback = json"""   {     "$$rollback": {       "phone": 1,       "gender": 1     }  } """ rollback("_id") = key bucket.update(rollback)

Printing out the document, we can find that phone has the previous value and gender disappears now. Of course, address.street still keeps the latest values.

unicorn> bucket(key).get res15: unicorn.json.JsObject = {"children":4,"address":{"city":"Roseland","state":"NJ","street":"5 ADP Blvd."},"owner":"Rich","_id":"0c354c07-6e25-4b30-9cf3-9a508b6868fd","phone":"123-456-7890"} 

This example shows how we can rollback $set operations. We actually can also rollback $unset operations.

val update = json"""   {     "$$unset": {       "owner": 1,       "address": 1     }   } """  update("_id") = key bucket.update(update)  val rollback = json"""   {     "$$rollback": {       "owner": 1,       "address": 1     }   } """  rollback("_id") = key bucket.update(rollback)

Time Travel

Another cool feature of Narwhal is time travel. Because HBase stores multiple timestamped values, we can query the snapshot of a document at a given time point.

val asOfDate = new Date  val update = json"""   {     "$$set": {       "phone": "212-456-7890",       "gender": "M",       "address.street": "5 ADP Blvd."     },     "$$inc": {       "children": 1     }   } """  update("_id") = key bucket.update(update)  bucket(asOfDate, key)

Besides the plain Get , we can supply an as-of-date in a time travel Get , which will retrieval document’s value at that time point.

Filter

So far, we get documents by their keys. With HBase, we can also query documents with method find by filtering field values. The find method returns an iterator to the documents that match the query criteria.

bucket.upsert(json"""{"name":"Tom","age":30,"state":"NY"}""") bucket.upsert(json"""{"name":"Mike","age":40,"state":"NJ"}""") bucket.upsert(json"""{"name":"Chris","age":30,"state":"NJ"}""")  val it = bucket.find(json"""{"name": "Tom"}""") it.foreach(println(_))

Optionally, the find method takes the second parameter for projection, which is an object that specifies the fields to return.

The find method with no parameters returns all documents from a table and returns all fields for the documents.

The syntax of filter object is similar to MongoDB. Supported operators include $and , $or , $eq , $ne , $gt , $gte (or $ge ), $lt , $lte (or $le ).

bucket.find(json"""   {     "$$or": [       {         "age": {"$$gt": 30}       },       {         "state": "NY"       }     ]   } """)

If you prefer SQL-like query, just do it as follows:

bucket.find("""age > 30 OR stage = "NY"""")

Note that the query operation is based on server side filters. Although it minimizes the network transmission, it is still a costly full table scan. If the table is multi-tenanted and each tenant does not have too much data (e.g. SaaS solutions for small business), however, the scan will be usually localized to one or a few nodes and often quite fast. Compared to secondary index, this approach does not have penalty on the write performance and still provides fairly good performance on queries in such a situation.

For general purpose queries, secondary index should be built to accelerate frequent queries. We will discuss our secondary index design in the below.

Spark

For large scale analytics, Narwhal supports Spark. A table can be exported to Spark as RDD[JsObject] .

import org.apache.spark._ import org.apache.spark.rdd.RDD  val conf = new SparkConf().setAppName("unicorn").setMaster("local[4]") val sc = new SparkContext(conf)  val db = new Narwhal(HBase()) val table = db("worker") table.tenant = "IBM" val rdd = table.rdd(sc) rdd.count()

In the above example, we first create a SparkContext . To export a table to spark, simply pass the SparkContext object to the rdd method of a table object. In this example, we only export the data of tenant IBM .

Although Spark has filter functions on RDDs , it is better to use HBase’s server side filter at beginning to reduce network transmission. The rdd method can take the second optional parameter for filtering, same syntax as in find .

val table = db("narwhal") val rdd = table.rdd(sc, json"""                           {                             "$$or": [                               {                                 "age": {"$$gt": 30}                               },                               {                                 "state": "NJ"                               }                             ]                           }                         """) rdd.count()

For analytics, SQL is still the best language. We can easily convert RDD[JsObject] to a strong-typed DataFrame to be analyzed in SparkSQL .

val sqlContext = new org.apache.spark.sql.SQLContext(sc) import sqlContext.implicits._  case class Worker(name: String, age: Int) val workers = rdd.map { js => Worker(js.name, js.age) } val df = sqlContext.createDataFrame(workers) df.cache df.show  df.registerTempTable("worker") sqlContext.sql("SELECT * FROM worker WHERE age > 30").show

In the above example, we create a SQLContext on top of SparkContext to use SparkSQL features. Then we create a DataFrame of case class Worker with type information. Since we will use this DataFrame many times in analysis, we also cache it with an in-memory columnar format. To do SQL queries, we also register this DataFrame as a temporary table.

Graph

Graphs are mathematical structures used to model pairwise relations between objects. A graph is made up of vertices (nodes) which are connected by edges (arcs or lines). A graph may be undirected, meaning that there is no distinction between the two vertices associated with each edge, or its edges may be directed from one vertex to another. Directed graphs are also called digraphs and directed edges are also called arcs or arrows.

A multigraph is a graph which is permitted to have multiple edges (also called parallel edges), that is, edges that have the same end nodes. The ability to support parallel edges simplifies modeling scenarios where there can be multiple relationships (e.g., co-worker and friend) between the same vertices.

In a property graph, the generic mathematical graph is often extended to support user defined objects attached to each vertex and edge. The edges also have associated labels denoting the relationships, which are important in a multigraph.

Unicorn supports directed property multigraphs. Documents from different tables can be added as vertices to a multigraph. It is also okay to add vertices without corresponding to documents. Each relationship/edge has a label and optional data (any valid JsValue, default value JsInt(1)).

Unicorn stores graphs in adjacency lists. That is, a graph is stored as a BigTable whose rows are vertices with their adjacency list. The adjacency list of a vertex contains all of the vertex’s incident edges (in and out edges are in different column families).

Because large graphs are usually very sparse, an adjacency list is significantly more space-efficient than an adjacency matrix. Besides, the neighbors of each vertex may be listed efficiently with an adjacency list, which is important in graph traversals. With our design, it is also possible to test whether two vertices are adjacent to each other for a given relationship in constant time.

In what follows, we create a graph of gods, an example from Titan graph database.

val db = Unibase(Accumulo()) db.createGraph("gods") val gods = db.graph("gods", new Snowflake(0))

Because each vertex in the graph must have a unique 64-bit ID. When we go to mutate a graph, we should provide a (distributed) ID generator. We currently provide the Snowflake ID generator, designed by Twitter. Each Snowflake worker should have a unique worker ID so that multiple worker won’t generate duplicate IDs in parallel. In a small system, these worker IDs may be hand picked. For a large system, it is better coordinated by ZooKeeper. In this demo, we simply use 0 as the worker ID in the shell. For production, you may do things like

db.graph("gods", "zookeeper connection string")

If no ID generator is provided, db.graph("gods") returns a read only instance for graph traversal or analytics.

In the next, we will add several vertices with properties stored in a JsObject . The function addVertex returns the ID of type Long of new vertex.

val saturn = gods.addVertex(json"""{"label": "titan", "name": "saturn", "age": 10000}""") val sky = gods.addVertex(json"""{"label": "location", "name": "sky"}""") val sea = gods.addVertex(json"""{"label": "location", "name": "sea"}""") val jupiter = gods.addVertex(json"""{"label": "god", "name": "jupiter", "age": 5000}""") val neptune = gods.addVertex(json"""{"label": "god", "name": "neptune", "age": 4500}""") val hercules = gods.addVertex(json"""{"label": "demigod", "name": "hercules", "age": 30}""") val alcmene = gods.addVertex(json"""{"label": "human", "name": "alcmene", "age": 45}""") val pluto = gods.addVertex(json"""{"label": "god", "name": "pluto", "age": 4000}""") val nemean = gods.addVertex(json"""{"label": "monster", "name": "nemean"}""") val hydra = gods.addVertex(json"""{"label": "monster", "name": "hydra"}""") val cerberus = gods.addVertex(json"""{"label": "monster", "name": "cerberus"}""") val tartarus = gods.addVertex(json"""{"label": "location", "name": "tartarus"}""")

Of course, we will also add edges between vertices. It is important that edges have direction. With addEdge(jupiter, "father", saturn) , we add an edge from jupiter to saturn with label father . For this edge, jupiter is called out vertex while saturn is in vertex. From the point view of vertex, this edge is an outgoing edge of jupiter while the incoming edge of saturn .

Besides, we may also associate any JsValue to an edge. If no value is provided, the default value is 1 .

gods.addEdge(jupiter, "father", saturn) gods.addEdge(jupiter, "lives", sky, json"""{"reason": "loves fresh breezes"}""") gods.addEdge(jupiter, "brother", neptune) gods.addEdge(jupiter, "brother", pluto)  gods.addEdge(neptune, "lives", sea, json"""{"reason": "loves waves"}""") gods.addEdge(neptune, "brother", jupiter) gods.addEdge(neptune, "brother", pluto)  gods.addEdge(hercules, "father", jupiter) gods.addEdge(hercules, "mother", alcmene) gods.addEdge(hercules, "battled", nemean, json"""{"time": 1, "place": {"latitude": 38.1, "longitude": 23.7}}""") gods.addEdge(hercules, "battled", hydra, json"""{"time": 2, "place": {"latitude": 37.7, "longitude": 23.9}}""") gods.addEdge(hercules, "battled", cerberus, json"""{"time": 12, "place": {"latitude": 39.0, "longitude": 22.0}}""")  gods.addEdge(pluto, "brother", jupiter) gods.addEdge(pluto, "brother", neptune) gods.addEdge(pluto, "lives", tartarus, json"""{"reason": "no fear of death"}""") gods.addEdge(pluto, "pet", cerberus)  gods.addEdge(cerberus, "lives", tartarus)

Correspondingly, deleteEdge removes an edge and deleteVertex removes the vertex and all associated edges.

To retrieve a vertex and its edge, gods(jupiter) will return a Vertex object containing its ID, properties, and associated edges. One can also directly access the data of an edge by gods(pluto, "brother", jupiter) . If the edge doesn’t exist, None is returned.

It is also possible to add a document (in another table) as a vertex to a graph.

// key is the document key in the table "person" val id = gods.addVertex("person", key)

If the person table is multi-tenanted, remember to use tenant id as the third argument. To access the vertex, it is simply as gods("person", key) .

Gremlin-like API

For graph traversal, we support a Gremlin -like API. To start a traversal,

val g = gods.traversal

Then we can start with one or more vertex by the method v ,

g.v(saturn)

A Traversal is essentially an Iterator of vertices or edges. On a vertex, we can call outE() and inE() to access its outgoing edges or incoming edges, respectively. On an edge, inV() and outV() returns its in vertex and out vertex, respectively. For vertex, out() is a shortcut to outE().inV() and similarly in() is shortcut to inE().outV() . All these functions may take a set of labels to filter relationships.

The following example shows how to get saturn’s grandchildren’s name.

g.v(saturn).in("father").in("father").name

For detailed information on Gremlin, please refer its website .

Graph Search

Beyond simple graph traversal, Unicorn supports DFS, BFS, A* search, Dijkstra algorithm, etc.

The below example searches for the shortest path between jupiter and cerberus with Dijkstra algorithm.

val path = GraphOps.dijkstra(jupiter, cerberus, new SimpleTraveler(gods)).map { edge =>   (edge.from, edge.label, edge.to) }  path.foreach(println(_))

Note that this search is performed by a single machine. For very large graph, it is better to use some distributed graph computing engine such as Spark GraphX.

Spark GraphX

With HBase/Narwhal, we can export a graph to Spark GraphX for advanced analytics such as PageRank, triangle count, SVD++, etc.

import org.apache.spark._  val conf = new SparkConf().setAppName("unicorn").setMaster("local[4]") val sc = new SparkContext(conf)  val graph = db.graph("gods") val graphx = graph.graphx(sc)  // Run PageRank val ranks = graphx.pageRank(0.0001).vertices

HTTP API

So far we access Unicorn through its Scala APIs. For other programming language users, we can manipulate documents with the HTTP API, which is provided by the Rhino module.

In the configuration file conf/rhino.conf , the underlying BigTable database engine should be configured in the section uncorn.rhino . The configuration file is in the format ofTypesafe Config. For example,

unicorn.rhino {   bigtable = "hbase"   accumulo {     instance = "local-poc"     zookeeper = "127.0.0.1:2181"     user = "root"     password = "secret"   }   cassandra {     host = "127.0.0.1"     port = 9160   } } 

In this example, we use HBase as the BigTable engine. Note that the configuration of HBase is in its own configuration files, which should be in the CLASSPATH of Rhino. Sample configurations of Accumulo and Cassandra are provided in the example for demonstration.

Currently, Rhino provides only data manipulation operations. Other operations such as table creation/drop should be done in the Unicorn Shell.

Method URL Operation
PUT /table/[table name] Insert
POST /table/[table name] Upsert
PATCH /table/[table name] Update
DELETE /table/[table name] Delete
DELETE /table/[table name]/key Delete
GET /table/[table name] Get
GET /table/[table name]/key Get

The API is simple and easy to use. To insert a document, use the PUT method with the JSON object as entity-body.

curl -X PUT -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d '{"_id":"dude","username":"xyz","password":"xyz"}' http://localhost:8080/table/rhino_test_table

To read it back, simply use GET method. If the key is a string, the key can be part of the URI. Otherwise, the key should be set in the entity-body. The same rule applies to the DELETE method.

curl -X GET http://localhost:8080/table/unicorn_rhino_test/dude

To update a document, use the PATCH method.

curl -X PATCH -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d '{"_id":"dude","$set":{"password":"abc"}}' http://localhost:8080/table/rhino_test_table

In case of multi-tenancy, the tenant id should be set in the header.

curl -X PUT -H "Content-Type: application/json" --header 'tenant: "IBM"' -d '{"_id":"dude","username":"xyz","password":"xyz"}' http://localhost:8080/table/rhino_test_table  curl -X GET --header 'tenant: "IBM"' http://localhost:8080/table/rhino_test_table/dude  curl -X GET --header 'tenant: "MSFT"' http://localhost:8080/table/rhino_test_table/dude  curl -X DELETE --header 'tenant: "IBM"' http://localhost:8080/table/rhino_test_table/dude

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