Article
· Jul 4, 2016 8m read
Introduction to the iKnow REST APIs

After a five-part series on sample iKnow applications (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), let's turn to a new feature coming up in 2017.1: the iKnow REST APIs, allowing you to develop rich web and mobile applications. Where iKnow's core COS APIs already had 1:1 projections in SQL and SOAP, we're now making them available through a RESTful service as well, in which we're trying to offer more functionality and richer results with fewer buttons and less method calls. This article will take you through the API in detail, explaining the basic principles we used when defining them and exploring the most important ones to get started.

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++Update: August 2, 2018

This article provides a reference architecture as a sample for providing robust performing and highly available applications based on InterSystems Technologies that are applicable to Caché, Ensemble, HealthShare, TrakCare, and associated embedded technologies such as DeepSee, iKnow, Zen and Zen Mojo.

Azure has two different deployment models for creating and working with resources: Azure Classic and Azure Resource Manager. The information detailed in this article is based on the Azure Resource Manager model (ARM).

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Myself and the other Technology Architects often have to explain to customers and vendors Caché IO requirements and the way that Caché applications will use storage systems. The following tables are useful when explaining typical Caché IO profile and requirements for a transactional database application with customers and vendors. The original tables were created by Mark Bolinsky.

In future posts I will be discussing more about storage IO so am also posting these tables now as a reference for those articles.

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Setting the TZ Environment Variable on Linux

The Update Checklist for v2015.1 recommends setting the TZ environment variable on Linux platforms and points to the manpage for tzset. This is recommended to improve the performance of Cache’s time-related functions. You can find out more about this here:

https://community.intersystems.com/post/linux-tz-environment-variable-not-being-set-and-impact-caché

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Article
· Jun 13, 2016 1m read
Debug: using locks for breakpoints

Hi, Community!

Want to share with you one debugging approach from the Russian forum.

Suppose I want to debug the application and I want it to stop the execution on a particular line.

I add in code this line:

l +d,-d

When I want to start debugging in this line I block d in terminal

USER> l +d

And execute the app.

The app stops on this line and lets me connect to it with Studio debugger.

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Article
· Jun 6, 2016 7m read
Language Extensions

This is a posting about a particular feature of Caché which I find useful but is probably not well known or used. I am referring to the feature of Language Extensions.

This feature allows you to extend the commands, special variables and functions available in Caché Object Script with commands, special variables and functions of your own. This functionality also applies to other languages the Caché supports at the server, including Caché Basic and Multivalue Basic.


Why would I need or want to add new commands ?

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Article
· May 25, 2016 5m read
Random Read IO Storage Performance Tool

New Tool Available

Please see PerfTools IO Test Suite for a later version of the Random Read IO tool.

Purpose

This tool is used to generate random read Input/Output (IO) from within the database. The goal of this tool is to drive as many jobs as possible to achieve target IOPS and ensure acceptable disk response times are sustained. Results gathered from the IO tests will vary from configuration to configuration based on the IO sub-system. Before running these tests ensure corresponding operating system and storage level monitoring are configured to capture IO performance metrics for later analysis.

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Article
· May 20, 2016 12m read
Collations in Caché

Order is a necessity for everyone, but not everyone understands it in the same way
(Fausto Cercignani)

Disclaimer: This article uses Russian language and Cyrillic alphabet as examples, but is relevant for anyone who uses Caché in a non-English locale.
Please note that this article refers mostly to NLS collations, which are different than SQL collations. SQL collations (such as SQLUPPER, SQLSTRING, EXACT which means no collation, TRUNCATE, etc.) are actual functions that are explicitly applied to some values, and whose results are sometimes explicitly stored in the global subscripts. When stored in subscripts, these values would naturally follow the NLS collation in effect (“SQL and NLS Collations”).

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The topic of for/while loop performance in Caché ObjectScript came up in discussion recently, and I'd like to share some thoughts/best practices with the rest of the community. While this is a basic topic in itself, it's easy to overlook the performance implications of otherwise-reasonable approaches.

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This post will show you an approach to size shared memory requirements for database applications running on InterSystems data platforms including global and routine buffers, gmheap, and locksize as well as some performance tips you should consider when configuring servers and when virtualizing Caché applications. As ever when I talk about Caché I mean all the data platform (Ensemble, HealthShare, iKnow and Caché).


A list of other posts in this series is here

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Hello!

This article is a small overview of a tool that helps to understand classes and their structure inside the InterSystems products: from IRIS to Caché, Ensemble, HealthShare.

In short, it visualizes a class or an entire package, shows the relations between classes and provides all the possible information to developers and team leads without making them go to Studio and examine the code there.

If you are learning InterSystems products, reviewing projects a lot or just interested in something new in InterSystems Technology solutions — you are more than welcome to read the overview of ObjectScript Class Explorer!

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A short post for now to answer a question that came up. In post two of this series I included graphs of performance data extracted from pButtons. I was asked off-line if there is a quicker way than cut/paste to extract metrics for mgstat etc from a pButtons .html file for easy charting in Excel.

See: - Part 2 - Looking at the metrics we collected

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This week I am going to look at CPU, one of the primary hardware food groups :) A customer asked me to advise on the following scenario; Their production servers are approaching end of life and its time for a hardware refresh. They are also thinking of consolidating servers by virtualising and want to right-size capacity either bare-metal or virtualized. Today we will look at CPU, in later posts I will explain the approach for right-sizing other key food groups - memory and IO.

So the questions are:

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++ Update: August 1, 2018

The use of the InterSystems Virtual IP (VIP) address built-in to Caché database mirroring has certain limitations. In particular, it can only be used when mirror members reside the same network subnet. When multiple data centers are used, network subnets are not often “stretched” beyond the physical data center due to added network complexity (more detailed discussion here). For similar reasons, Virtual IP is often not usable when the database is hosted in the cloud.

Network traffic management appliances such as load balancers (physical or virtual) can be used to achieve the same level of transparency, presenting a single address to the client applications or devices. The network traffic manager automatically redirects clients to the current mirror primary’s real IP address. The automation is intended to meet the needs of both HA failover and DR promotion following a disaster.

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In the last post we scheduled 24-hour collections of performance metrics using pButtons. In this post we are going to be looking at a few of the key metrics that are being collected and how they relate to the underlying system hardware. We will also start to explore the relationship between Caché (or any of the InterSystems Data Platforms) metrics and system metrics. And how you can use these metrics to understand the daily beat rate of your systems and diagnose performance problems.

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Your application is deployed and everything is running fine. Great, hi-five! Then out of the blue the phone starts to ring off the hook – it’s users complaining that the application is sometimes ‘slow’. But what does that mean? Sometimes? What tools do you have and what statistics should you be looking at to find and resolve this slowness? Is your system infrastructure up to the task of the user load? What infrastructure design questions should you have asked before you went into production? How can you capacity plan for new hardware with confidence and without over-spec'ing? How can you stop the phone ringing? How could you have stopped it ringing in the first place?

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Article
· Mar 3, 2016 2m read
Class Projections and Projection Classes

The purpose of this post is to raise the profile of a powerful mechanism that has long been available to us, and to open a discussion about ways in which it can be used or abused.

You can read more detail about the mechanism here. To summarize, your class definition can use the Projection keyword to reference one or more projection classes. A projection class can implement methods that get invoked at key points in the lifecycle of your class.

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Ansible helped me solve the problem of quickly deploying Caché and application components for Data Platforms benchmarks. You can use the same tools and methodology for standing up your test labs, training systems, development or other environments. If you deploy applications at customer sites you could automate much of the deployment and ensure that system, Caché and your application are configured to your applications best practice standards.

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Article
· Feb 5, 2016 11m read
Class Queries in InterSystems IRIS

Class Queries in InterSystems IRIS (and Cache, Ensemble, HealthShare) is a useful tool that separates SQL queries from Object Script code. Basically, it works like this: suppose that you want to use the same SQL query with different arguments in several different places.In this case you can avoid code duplication by declaring the query body as a class query and then calling this query by name. This approach is also convenient for custom queries, in which the task of obtaining the next row is defined by a developer. Sounds interesting? Then read on!

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** Revised Feb-12, 2018

While this article is about InterSystems IRIS, it also applies to Caché, Ensemble, and HealthShare distributions.

Introduction

Memory is managed in pages. The default page size is 4KB on Linux systems. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11, and Oracle Linux 6 introduced a method to provide an increased page size in 2MB or 1GB sizes depending on system configuration know as HugePages.

At first HugePages required to be assigned at boot time, and if not managed or calculated appropriately could result in wasted resources. As a result various Linux distributions introduced Transparent HugePages with the 2.6.38 kernel as enabled by default. This was meant as a means to automate creating, managing, and using HugePages. Prior kernel versions may have this feature as well however may not be marked as [always] and potentially set to [madvise].

Transparent Huge Pages (THP) is a Linux memory management system that reduces the overhead of Translation Lookaside Buffer (TLB) lookups on machines with large amounts of memory by using larger memory pages. However in current Linux releases THP can only map individual process heap and stack space.

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The object and relational data models of the Caché database support three types of indexes, which are standard, bitmap, and bitslice. In addition to these three native types, developers can declare their own custom types of indexes and use them in any classes since version 2013.1. For example, iFind text indexes use that mechanism.

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