[Pharo-users] Pharo and SQLite

Jimmie Houchin jlhouchin at gmail.com
Thu Oct 15 13:58:59 EDT 2015


I am working on a project for my wife. I initially thought I would keep 
all my data inside Pharo because it is a simple project and Pharo is 
great at persistence in the image.

But as I pursued the project it felt like I was reinventing the 
database. So I thought why am I considering working so hard to structure 
my classes and objects in such a way that I am in effect writing my own 
database. All of this to avoid using a "real" database.

Part of my projects goals is to keep this project contained. I do not 
want to require my wife or whomever I share this with to have to install 
anything other than copy or unzip the Pharo folder. No PostgreSQL or 
MongoDB installs. Keep it simple.

This is a goal I have for a lot of my ideas.

In my 20+ years of computing and Internet. I have seen lots of 
applications come and go.
(and no, I don't have gray hair, even though I have children older than 
probably half the people here.)

Many years ago, my wife and I made tremendous use out of Apple Works and 
Microsoft Works. Apple at home and for me Microsoft at work. We loved 
the ease and simplicity we could throw a database together and just do 
stuff. It was great. In fact on my work PC I still use weekly and 
sometimes daily a database I wrote in 1994. I am almost at the point 
that Windows won't run this ancient MSWorks 4 database. I will have to 
move my data.

Of course these tools aren't the greatest. They have significant 
limitations, but despite the limitations they were very empowering.

My wife started to attempt something similar in LibreOffice but 
LibreOffice wasn't so simple. It was confusing to her. I briefly looked 
at LibreOffice but I am not convinced that it is the best or right tool 
for the job.

So that sent me on an adventure to implement this in Pharo. In my 
learning that I don't want to reinvent the database I have initially 
settled on using SQLite. SQLite meets my requirements above. It is 
embedded in my Pharo app and only requires including the database file I 
create. Very portable and easy to install along with anything else in Pharo.

SQLite seems like a very good match and complement to Pharo. A trusted, 
reliable, external persistence that is as simple and portable as is Pharo.

Richard Hipp creator of SQLite has several videos describing how he 
believes SQLite should be used and should not be used.

SQLite: The Database at the Edge of the Network with Dr. Richard Hipp

2014 SouthEast LinuxFest - Richard Hipp - SQLite as an Application File 

The videos are inspirational for using SQLite. I like what he says. I 
encourage watching. I have watched these and others of his including his 
anti-git video.
I am not knowledgeable about the use of git in Pharo, but I would be 
interested if anybody has considered and knows the pros and cons of 
using Fossil instead. I know, it wouldn't get us on GitHub. I may be the 
only one. But that isn't a biggie for me.
TL;DW (didn't watch)
Use SQLite for Application File Format for persistence instead of a 
(zipped) pile of files and you get many benefits. Examples in videos as 
the wrong way, LibreOffice and git.

I think using SQLite like this for Pharo would be an excellent match. We 
gain all the benefits of SQLite, transactions, ACID. In a tool that is 
nicely (non)licensed, and is used and trusted generally by most all of 
the software world.

For Pharo this buys us an excellent, simple, equally portable 
persistence. It also buys us persistence that is trusted by people who 
don't trust the image for their data. This could possible help with 
people who explore Pharo but aren't comfortable about image only. Now of 
course it won't help the Emacs or Vim, ... people.

I am exploring the idea of using Pharo and SQLite for what I would have 
previously used Apple/MS Works database for. At first it would be 
building the app/project for my wife. And during and after that project 
generalize some things to make a better out of the box solution for like 

Thoughts, opinions, ideas, wisdom. Any and all appreciated.



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