The C++ Standard Template Library as a BDB Database (part 1)

If you've used C++ you undoubtedly have used the Standard Template Libraries. Designed for in-memory management of data and collections of data this is a core aspect of all C++ programs.

Berkeley DB is a database library with a variety of APIs designed to ease development, one of those APIs extends and makes use of the STL for persistent, transactional data storage. dbstl is an STL standard compatible API for Berkeley DB. You can make use of Berkeley DB via this API as if you are using C++ STL classes, and still make full use of Berkeley DB features.

Being an STL library backed by a database, there are some important and useful features that dbstl can provide, while the C++ STL library can't. The following are a few typical use cases to use the dbstl extensions to the C++ STL for data storage.


  1. When data exceeds available physical memory.
    Berkeley DB dbstl can vastly improve performance when managing a dataset which is larger than available memory. Performance suffers when the data can't reside in memory because the OS is forced to use virtual memory and swap pages of memory to disk. Switching to BDB's dbstl improves performance while allowing you to keep using STL containers.

  2. When you need concurrent access to C++ STL containers.
    Few existing C++ STL implementations support concurrent access (create/read/update/delete) within a container, at best you'll find support for accessing different containers of the same type concurrently. With the Berkeley DB dbstl implementation you can concurrently access your data from multiple threads or processes with confidence in the outcome.

  3. When your objects are your database.
    You want to have object persistence in your application, and store objects in a database, and use the objects across different runs of your application without having to translate them to/from SQL. The dbstl is capable of storing complicated objects, even those not located on a continous chunk of memory space, directly to disk without any unnecessary overhead.


These are a few reasons why you should consider using Berkeley DB's C++ STL support for your embedded database application. In the next few blog posts I'll show you a few examples of this approach, it's easy to use and easy to learn.

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