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TEI-L  October 2018

TEI-L October 2018

Subject:

Re: XML databases for TEI-based projects

From:

Martin Holmes <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Martin Holmes <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 25 Oct 2018 16:59:55 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (1 lines)

Hi there,

I'm able to load largish XAR files (2.5GB) into recent versions of eXist 
without any problem, but I do have to make sure that I'm talking 
directly to eXist/Jetty (on port 8080 or whatever it's running on) 
rather than going through the Apache front-end on port 80, which tends 
to have default settings which prevent massive uploads.

Cheers,
Martin

On 2018-10-25 4:38 p.m., Craig Berry wrote:
> What I primarily draw from this thread is that people who have been using eXist intensively for a decade or more find it to be stable and performant.  I've been using it for about a year and have had a lot of problems with both stability and performance.  I do notice, though, that its tendency to hang, crash, fail to start, fail to stop, and slow to a crawl diminish the more experience I get using it.
> 
> It is certainly easier to get a bunch of texts loaded into eXist than into MarkLogic, plus the latter will cost you an arm and a leg.  But, for a project of any size and complexity, you will have a steep learning curve, and the things you will need to learn will be specific to your documents, what you want to do with them, and what particular features or misfeatures of eXist you end up exercising along the way to accomplishing what you want to do.
> 
> As an example, I initially loaded texts by building a package and trying to load them via the eXist package manager.  This routinely put eXist in a hung state where it was consuming all cpu on the system but not actually doing anything.  Eventually I realized it was doing the whole package load as one big transaction and exhausting one or more resources, but the package manager provided no feedback about this and just gave me a spinning barber pole for hours on end.  The solution was to write scripts that load texts from the command line and no more than a few dozen at a time.  I'm not saying anything else does it better, but you will have many such things you need to discover if you implement any but the most trivial database with eXist.
> 
> There is no solitary measure of performance that means much.  There are many very fast operations in eXist, especially index look-ups.  But there are some really, really, slow operations, notably wildcard and some other operations in XPath, and rebuilding indexes.
> 
> For some of the large texts that Martin Mueller mentioned up-thread, it was taking several minutes to build the table of contents before we could even display the first page of a text.  The table of contents generation was basically just saying, for each <div> in the document, tell me what page it's on.  The XPath was more or less just this:
> 
>    $div/preceding::tei:pb[1]
> 
> Even though eXist has perfectly good indexes on that tei:pb element, it doesn't use them and this is a very slow operation.  I eventually abandoned XPath and wrote a binary search in XQuery that makes a list of all <pb> elements in the document (which does use indexes) and then searched for the nearest page to each <div>.  This is 30 times faster than the obvious and simple implementation in XPath, and something that happens in 5 seconds instead of 3 minutes is definitely noticeable to the user.
> 
> But whether such things will affect you really depends on your documents.  Our documents are tagged at the word level and we have some with a million element nodes.  This really kills performance for those XPath operations in eXist that iterate over every node in the document.  But if you just have a few thousand nodes in your largest documents, you'll likely never notice this kind of problem.
> 
> I mentioned index rebuilding.  It's a known problem, and I think is supposed to get some attention in eXist 5.x.  But currently we have most of a day of downtime if something gets corrupted and indexes need to be rebuilt.  I think it's actually faster to delete the entire database and reload it.
> 
> So, there are many caveats, but there are also many good features and you should definitely give TEI Publisher a try.  If it doesn't do what you need, I suggest just using eXist as a data store that serves up chunks of XML while implementing your app in whatever framework is comfortable for you.
> 
> 
>> On Oct 25, 2018, at 2:54 PM, Nathan Gibson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>
>> Dear All,
>>
>> These are extremely helpful responses—thanks for taking the time.
>>
>> I'll summarize some of the salient points of the discussion to see if I’m tracking:
>> 	• eXist can function very reliably and perform well for TEI databases even in demanding environments. Whether it actually does seems somewhat variable once you factor in the particular application and server configuration, etc.
>> 	• Setting up the right deployment procedures (testing, headless installation, etc.) and proper indexing might be particularly important keys to getting good eXist performance.
>> 	• Consider using TEI Publisher.
>> 	• BaseX is an alternative worth considering.
>>
>> Did I get it, more or less? I certainly want to also take into account the more detailed suggestions individuals gave regarding the setups you’re using.
>>
>> Thanks,
>> Nathan
>>
>>> On Oct 25, 2018, at 9:12 PM, Joe Wicentowski <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>
>>> Hi all,
>>>
>>> Apologies, the HipChat link I provided was out of date.  Here is the correct URL:
>>>
>>>   https://www.hipchat.com/gLp8PXSA0
>>>
>>> Joe
>>>
>>> On Thu, Oct 25, 2018 at 10:28 AM Joe Wicentowski <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> Hi Nathan,
>>>
>>> I have been a user of eXist since 2007, using it to power my office's public website (history.state.gov, 14 million page views in the last 12 months, all TEI or other XML data being searched and transformed to HTML; it also serves up RSS/Atom feeds and is a JSON-based OpenRefine reconciliation endpoint). eXist is a fantastic project, very responsive to TEI and digital humanities users (but in no way is limited to such uses), and continually improved. The eXist-based and also open source TEI Publisher project, whose lead developers Magdalena Turska and Wolfgang Meier were nominated for the Rahtz Prize this year, have made a huge and ongoing contribution in making TEI searchable and publishable by mere mortals. The developer and user base is friendly, respectful [1], and active - with a mailing list, chat room, and weekly community calls. When I was getting started, before the fantastic O’Reilly eXist book, the mailing list was a very patient tutor to me. I’d encourage anyone in the TEI community to join the exist-open mailing list [2], HipChat room [3], and let folks know what you’re up to and if you have any questions.
>>>
>>> Joe
>>>
>>> [1] https://github.com/eXist-db/exist/blob/develop/CODE_OF_CONDUCT.md
>>> [2] https://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/exist-open
>>> [3] https://www.hipchat.com/invite/300223/6ea0341b23fa1cf8390a23592b4b2c39
>>>
>>> On Thu, Oct 25, 2018 at 7:09 AM Nathan Gibson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> Dear TEI List,
>>>
>>> This is a question about the TEI ecosystem rather than TEI itself. Some colleagues have asked me to advise about which XML database software they should use for displaying their project with TEI documents (specifically, manuscript descriptions). I myself am most familiar with eXist-db, but some concerns were raised about its performance and reliability.
>>>
>>> 	• If you use eXist for your project, how have you found its performance and reliability, especially for recent releases? (That is, is it slow and does it crash often?)
>>> 	• Do you recommend an alternative to eXist? If so, how broad is the user base and app base?
>>>
>>> Thanks in advance for your input,
>>> Nathan Gibson
>>>
>>> Nathan P. Gibson, Ph.D.
>>> Senior Research Associate, Biblia Arabica
>>> Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
>>> Institut für den Nahen und Mittleren Osten
>>> [log in to unmask]
>>> -- 
>>> Sent from my iPhone
>>
> 
> ________________________________________
> Craig A. Berry
> 
> "... getting out of a sonnet is much more
> difficult than getting in."
>                  Brad Leithauser
> 
> 
> 
> ________________________________________
> Craig A. Berry
> 
> "... getting out of a sonnet is much more
>   difficult than getting in."
>                   Brad Leithauser
> 

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