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An ActiveRecord extension to switch between multiple databases, such as in a master/slave setup

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A simple, no-nonsense ActiveRecord extension which allows the application to switch between multiple database connections, such as in a master/slave environment. For example:

Multidb.use(:slave) do
  @posts = Post.all

The extension was developed in order to support PostgreSQL 9.0's new hot standby support in a production environment.

Randomized balancing of multiple connections within a group is supported. In the future, some kind of automatic balancing of read/write queries might be implemented.

Testet with Rails 2.3.11. No guarantees about Rails 3.

Comparison to other ActiveRecord extensions

Unlike other, more full-featured extensions such as Octopus and Seamless Database Pool, Multidb aims to be:

  • Implemented using a minimal amount of monkeypatching magic. The only part of ActiveRecord that is overriden is ActiveRecord::Base#connection.

  • Non-invasive. Very small amounts of configuration and changes to the client application are required.

  • Orthogonal. Unlike Octopus, for example, connections follow context:

    Multidb.use(:master) do @post = Post.find(1) Multidb.use(:slave) do @post.authors # This will use the slave end end

  • Low-overhead. Since connection is called on every single database operation, it needs to be fast. Which it is: Multidb's implementation of connection incurs only a single hash lookup in Thread.current.

However, Multidb also has fewer features. At the moment it will not automatically split reads and writes between database backends.

Getting started

In Rails 2.x applications without a Gemfile, add this to environment.rb:

config.gem 'ar-multidb'

In Bundler-based on Rails apps, add this to your Gemfile:

gem 'ar-multidb', :require => 'multidb'

You may also install it as a plugin:

script/plugin install git://

All that is needed is to set up your database.yml file:

  adapter: postgresql
  database: myapp_production
  username: ohoh
  password: mymy
  host: db1
        host: db-slave

Each database entry may be a hash or an array. So this also works:

  adapter: postgresql
  database: myapp_production
  username: ohoh
  password: mymy
  host: db1
        - host: db-slave1
        - host: db-slave2

The database hashes follow the same format as the top-level adapter configuration. In other words, each database connection may override the adapter, database name, username and so on.

To use the connection, modify your code by wrapping database access logic in blocks:

Multidb.use(:slave) do
  @posts = Post.all

To wrap entire controller requests, for example:

class PostsController < ApplicationController
  around_filter :run_using_slave

  def run_using_slave(&block)
    Multidb.use(:slave, &block)

You can also set the current connection for the remainder of the thread's execution:

# Do work

Note that the symbol :default will (unless you override it) refer to the default top-level ActiveRecord configuration.


Copyright (c) 2011 Alexander Staubo. Released under the MIT license. See the file LICENSE.

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