Appendix G: Extending YottaDB¶
Applications, Wrappers, and Plugins¶
Broadly speaking, there are three ways to extend YottaDB functionality: applications, wrappers, and plugins. YottaDB is systems software, i.e., infrastructure that is generally useful rather than solving the needs of specific end users. Applications like library catalogs, electronic health records, vehicle fleet managers, factory automation, and banking systems can be built on YottaDB to solve end user needs.
Native APIs in C and M expose the functionality of YottaDB. A wrapper accesses the native APIs to expand the availability of functionality in those APIs, for example, to application programs in another language. A wrapper does not necessarily add functionality. The Go wrapper is a wrapper developed by YottaDB. NodeM and the Perl YottaDB module are examples of wrappers developed by the YottaDB community.
Whether a wrapper is installed in the same directory as YottaDB or whether it is installed elsewhere depends on the language implementation. For example, Go expects the YottaDB wrapper to reside in its directory structure, whereas a C++ wrapper could reside in the YottaDB directory. From the perspective of YottaDB, there needs to be only one copy of a language wrapper for each language implementation; where multiple copies are needed, the need arises from the language implementation rather than from YottaDB.
Figure 1 shows a representative application software stack for YottaDB applications. YottaDB calls system libraries, which in turn rely on services provided by the operating system.
On a system, there is typically one copy of each version of a system library or a release of YottaDB – although a release of YottaDB can be installed in multiple directories on a system, there is no benefit to doing so. That single installation of YottaDB installed in a directory can be used by any number of applications on the system. Sometimes, these are different applications; at other times, they may be multiple installations of the same application, corresponding to multiple development and testing needs, or different production environments.
Also as shown in Figure 1, applications can call packages and libraries other than YottaDB, and packages may have common code. In Figure 1, Applications 1 and 2 may both include code to serialize a YottaDB local or global variable structure into JSON and back. Applications 1 and 3 may both store time-series data in YottaDB, and include an interface to an external Discrete Fourier Transform package or library.
Although YottaDB itself is extended by YottaDB developers, additional
functionality can be installed in
$ydb_dist so that
applications using YottaDB can access the additional functionality as
if that were part of YottaDB. Installed in the YottaDB directory,
$ydb_dist, plugins increase the breadth of YottaDB’s
functionality. Potential benefits include:
Simpler application configuration – access to a plugin residing in
$ydb_distcan be accessible to applications as part of their configuration to access YottaDB.
Code sharing – common functionality can be reusably packaged, resulting in standardized code and in turn, less code to maintain.
A plugin increases the breadth of YottaDB’s functionality, and if a wrapper is appropriately extended, can make that additional functionality available through the wrapper. Octo and the GDE GUI are examples of plugins developed by YottaDB. The M web server is an example of a plugin developed by the YottaDB community.
Figure 2 shows the same software with functionality moved to plugins. The common functionality shared by Applications 1 and 2 has moved to Plugin 2. The external package / library called by Applications 1 and 3 has moved to Plugin 1. Depending on specific details of the functionality in and API of Plugin 1, the Language Wrapper may need an extension to access it.
As plugins are installed in the YottaDB directory (under
$ydb_dist), and need to be available to all wrappers and all
applications, they need to conform to rules described here.
As both M and C have limitations in the information hiding they provide, plugins use namespacing to avoid colliding with applications and with one another. Some of the namespacing conventions are historical, as are the terms call-in (calling from C to M) and call-out (calling from M to C). Names of entities (variables, files, functions, etc.) in plugins are conceptually identified using a triple of (developer, plugin, entity).
A developer name has a long form (e.g., “YottaDB”) and a short form (e.g., “YDB”). “YottaDB” and “YDB” are used in the examples below; substitute your developer names for your plugins. While developer and plugin names are case-insensitive, file names and variable names may need to use specific cases, as described below. As developer names must be unique, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your short- and long-form names.
Except for executable names, plugin names and entity names are entirely up to you. The examples below use “Octo” and “GDEGUI” as examples of plugin names.
The short form developer name concatenated with a plugin name is called a package name, e.g., “ydbocto” or “ydbgdegui”.
An installed plugin consists of:
C functions, all or some of which may be callable from M code. C functions are installed in shared libraries containing object code Call-out tables make C functions available to M code.
M routines, all or some of whose entryrefs may be callable from C code. M routines are installed as shared libraries or object files for object code (shared libraries are preferred). Call-in tables make M entryrefs available to C code. Also:
As M programs can be introspective (i.e., access and act on their own source code), a plugin can also include
.mM source code files.
In addition to the standard M-mode object code, if YottaDB is installed with UTF-8 support, each M routine also has UTF-8 mode object code.
Databases (database files and global directories used to access them).
Executable files (either binary images or shell scripts) that can be executed directly from the shell.
Include files, such as those needed to compile software that accesses plugins.
Other (non-executable) files, such as configuration files. As C programs are not introspective, source code for C and other non-introspective languages would not be installed with plugins.
In addition to files installed under
$ydb_dist which are
common to all application processes using them, when a plugin executes
in an application environment or instance, it will almost certainly
need local variables. It may also need permanent and temporary global
variables, and may also need to dynamically generate code. For
example, the YottaDB Octo plugin will need to compute and store
statistics to speed up queries, and to generate code for SQL
queries. These are specfic to each application environment or
There are standards for all of the above, with the twin goals of:
eliminating collisions between plugins and minimizing the potential for collision between plugins and applications; and
enabling the environment set up by sourcing the
ydb_env_setfile (e.g., with
source $(pkg-config --variable=prefix yottadb)/ydb_env_set) to make YottaDB and installed plugins available.
Externally visible C function names start with the short developer
name, an underscore, the plugin name, an underscore, and the exposed
function name, e.g.,
ydb_octo_dosql(). C functions are
installed as shared libraries.
Shared library file names use the package name, e.g.,
libydbocto.so. Optionally, a plugin may provide multiple shared libraries with the same prefix, e.g.,
libydboctoopt.so. Shared libraries of C functions are installed in
If a package exports any C functions, or makes M functions available to C code, it should provide a C function
<developername>_<pluginname>_version()which returns a version number for the package that complies with Semantic Versioning.
C functions can optionally be made available to M application code.
Call-out tables to make C functions available to M code (as described in Chapter 11. Integrating External Routines of the M Programmers Guide) use the package name, e.g.,
ydbocto.xc. The first line of the call-out table is
$ydb_dist/plugin/followed by the shared library name, e.g.,
Since environment variables are permitted in the shared library file name reference, an environment variable can be used to choose between the
Environment variables to allow M code to locate call-out tables are of the form
ydb_xc_<packagename>. For example, to expose an Octo
libydbocto.sothe environment variable
ydb_xc_ydboctowould point to
$ydb_dist/plugin/ydbocto.xcto allow M application code
$&ydbocto.select(…)to invoke the function.
$ydb_dist/plugin/<packagename>.xc file, the
ydb_env_set file sets a
environment variable to point to that file.
As the M routine namespace within a process is flat, the M routines of
a plugin must be named to minimize the probability of collision not
just with one another but also with applications. By convention, M
applications are written to avoid names starting with
M routine names start with
%y, followed by the package name followed by a specific routine name. The specific routine name is optional, if a package has only one routine. If the package name starts with “Y”, there is no need to start with a double letter, e.g.,
_YDBPOSIX.m. M routine source files are in
The M mode object code for plugins is in
$ydb_dist/plugin/o. While each routine can be compiled into its own
.ofile, we recommend that each plugin have all its object code placed in a shared library named
<packagename>.so, with no
If YottaDB is installed with UTF-8 support, the UTF-8 mode object code is in
$ydb_dist/plugin/o/utf8with the same recommendation to use shared libraries rather than individual object files.
If a package provides any M routines, or makes any C functions available to M code, it should provide an entryref
$$version^<packagename>()which returns a version number for the package that complies with Semantic Versioning.
M routines can optionally be made available to C application code.
Call-in tables (as described in Chapter 11. Integrating External Routines of the M Programmers Guide) use the package name and are placed in the plugin directory, e.g.,
$ydb_dist/plugin/ydbocto.cip. C code selects the appropriate call-in table using
ydb_ci_tab_set(). To avoid perturbing an application’s call-in tables, C code in plugins must use
ydb_ci_tab_set()around their C→M calls to save and restore an application’s call in table.
ydb_env_set file in M mode includes any shared
$ydb_dist/plugin/o($ydb_dist/plugin/r) if there are
.o files in
$ydb_dist/plugin/o. When sourced in
UTF-8 mode (
any shared libraries in
$ydb_routines as well as
$ydb_dist/plugin/o/utf8($ydb_dist/plugin/r) if there are any
.o files in
Note that YottaDB implements M code introspection in two ways:
Embedding the source code in the object file. This is accomplished with the
-embed_sourcecompiler command line option.
Embedding the path to the source code in the object file (the default). To provide introspection with this option the M routines should be placed in
$ydb_dist/plugin/rand then compiled.
Database files and global directories used to access them are located
$ydb_dist/plugin. Database files and global directories
use the package name, e.g.,
Database files use the MM access method and are installed with
read-only file permissions and are flagged as read-only in database
file headers (modeled on help database files in
Global directories specify
$ydb_dist/plugin as the directory
path to database files.
Plugin M application code using databases in
can use extended references or set the intrinsic special variable
$zgbldir and restore it after use. Plugin C application code
$zgbldir and restore it after use. As global
directories provide complete global variable name isolation, plugins
are free to use global variable names of their choice.
While there is no YottaDB restriction on environment variables, our
recommendation is to use environment variables consisting of the
developer name, an underscore, the package name, and a variable name,
ydb_gdegui_html in the (admittedly unlikely) event that
the YottaDB GDE GUI has an option to optimize for different levels of
the HTML standard.
Executables are files that can be directly executed from the
shell. Executables are free to use package names, e.g.,
ydbgdegui. To reserve an executable name
that is not a package name, please contact us at email@example.com.
You may have an executable that is an executable shell script (or any
script starting with
#! for which Linux provides an
interpreter that sets up an environment and then calls a binary
executable. To implement this, create the shell script with the
package name, invoking the binary executable as
ydb_env_set file creates aliases for all
executable files in
$ydb_dist/plugin/bin except executable
.bin files, executable files provided by packages
should have a
-v command line option that
reports a version number for the package that complies with Semantic
Include (header) files with templates and prototypes are optionally
prefixed with a traditional prefix for the language (e.g.,
lib), the package name, and optionally, additional names if a
package has more than one include file. Include files are placed in
$ydb_dist/plugin/inc. For example, if there were a YottaDB
time-series package called
Times, its C header file might be
Other (non-executable) Files¶
Non-executable files (e.g., configuration files, meta data, header
files) belong in the directory
$db_dist/plugin/etc/<packagename>. When creating the package
name directory, the package installer should create the
sub-directory if it does not exist. Package installers must ensure
that files in this directory do not have any execute bits set.
M code in plugins must NEW local variables that are not needed beyond the QUIT from the entryref call.
C code in plugins and M code that needs configuration or other state
beyond the QUIT from an entryref call can use local variables prefixed
%y followed by the package name. For package names
starting with “Y”, there is no need to double that initial letter.
Permanent Global Variables¶
“Permanent” global variables are those which should persist beyond the
lifetime of current processes, and which should be replicated, for
example, global variables storing cross references to accelerate
queries. Global variables used by plugins use
^%y followed by
the package name. In this case, the “y” must be lower case. For
package names starting with “Y”, there is no need to double that
Dynamic M Routines¶
Dynamically generated M routines go in the first source directory
$zroutines. To find the first source directory
of $zroutines, discard any leading space separated pieces that end in
.so. Then take the shorter of (a) the the first space
separated piece or (b) the first close parenthesis separated
piece. From that piece, take the last open parenthesis separated
piece. Discard any trailing asterisk (*).
There is no need to explicitly compile dynamically generated M routines, which will automatically be compiled on first use.
Temporary Global Variables¶
Temporary global variables are those which need not persist beyond the lifetime of current processes and need not be replicated, for example for multiple processes (or threads within a process) to collaborate on a computation such as a query which can be accelerated by having multiple parallel computations whose results can combined to produce a final result.
For temporary global variables, use
mktemp -d (or equivalent
alternative) to create a temporary directory, preferably in
non-persistent storage (so that if the system crashes, there is not a
need to separately delete the space). In that directory, create a
global directory file and database using the MM access method.
If an application uses a permanent global variable to share the location of the temporary directory, remember to include logic in the design of the plugin to delete the information once the temporary directory is no longer relevant.