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Re: [Libvir] Proposal for the storage API (for discussion only)

On Fri, Oct 19, 2007 at 09:53:27AM +0100, Richard W.M. Jones wrote:
> Daniel P. Berrange wrote:
> >Using structures in the public API is not in keeping with the rest of
> >the libvirt APIs. We should be using XML for the main metadata description
> >of volumes & pools.
> No, that doesn't make sense.  XML for an API is a hack.  It's hard to 
> use it without requiring an additional external library to parse the 
> XML.  It's slow.  It has the facade of maintaining ABI compatibility 
> (because it's "just strings"), but in fact has no guaranteed ABI at all. 
>  It sits very poorly with static typing, virtually guaranteeing runtime 
> errors that you are forced to do something about.

The speed is irrelevant in the context we're using this. Neither creating
nor getting metadata about storage volumes are performance critical methods.
Parsing XML is linenoise when creating a volume in comparison to the actual
time required to allocate the volume itself.

> See previous discussion about capabilities, also a hack:
> https://www.redhat.com/archives/libvir-list/2007-March/msg00104.html

The use of XML for describing metadata about managed objects is a core
aspect of libvirt. We can debate use of XML vs structures for hours on
end, but the fact remains that libvirt uses XML for its metadata APIs.

> >This is just one reason why I don't like the idea of simply running shell
> >scripts in the back end. This will result in a unreliable, hard-to debug
> >system. It may be a short term win on implementation speed, but it will be
> >a PITA for long term maintainence. One thing you will immediately get is 
> >people writing scripts which add all kinda of custom crap to the XML 
> >destroying the benefit of libvirt which is the standardization. For any
> I don't understand this.  Scripts can be written which add custom fields 
> to the XML, but since libvirt will just ignore those fields I don't see 
> any issue.
> >given storage backend, we know what operations we need to be able to 
> >perform & so we have a finite set of commands we need to run with known
> >predictable arguments.  We just don't need the 'flexibility' of running
> >arbitrary shell scripts & XML filters in the backend end.
> We do because we need to be able to take the output of 'vgs', 'sfdisk', 
> 'iscsiadm', etc., the output of each being essentially the same 
> information (a list of volume groups plus the size and free space of 
> each), and present that information in the same format back to libvirt. 
>  In this case a common format makes perfect sense.  It need not be XML, 
> it might be CSV, but in this case XML's extensibility makes sense, along 
> with the fact that libvirt already parses XML.

This is just pushing the parsing code out of libvirt and into an external
application. I am saying that libvirt should deal with it directly, since
this is the core job of the driver APIs. libvirt should call 'vgs' directly
and parse its output directly. Adding extra layers in the stack which
transform vgs output into some further intermediate form is not going to
make this easy to debug.

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