DBM::Deep - A pure perl multi-level hash/array DBM that supports


      use DBM::Deep;
      my $db = DBM::Deep->new( "foo.db" );

      $db->{key} = 'value';
      print $db->{key};

      $db->put('key' => 'value');
      print $db->get('key');

      # true multi-level support
      $db->{my_complex} = [
          'hello', { perl => 'rules' },
          42, 99,


      # Do stuff here


      tie my %db, 'DBM::Deep', 'foo.db';
      $db{key} = 'value';
      print $db{key};

      tied(%db)->put('key' => 'value');
      print tied(%db)->get('key');

    A unique flat-file database module, written in pure perl. True
    multi-level hash/array support (unlike MLDBM, which is faked), hybrid OO
    / tie() interface, cross-platform FTPable files, ACID transactions, and
    is quite fast. Can handle millions of keys and unlimited levels without
    significant slow-down. Written from the ground-up in pure perl -- this
    is NOT a wrapper around a C-based DBM. Out-of-the-box compatibility with
    Unix, Mac OS X and Windows.

    NOTE: 2.0000 introduces Unicode support in the File back end. This
    necessitates a change in the file format. The version 1.0003 format is
    still supported, though, so we have added a db_version() method. If you
    are using a database in the old format, you will have to upgrade it to
    get Unicode support.

    NOTE: 1.0020 introduces different engines which are backed by different
    types of storage. There is the original storage (called 'File') and a
    database storage (called 'DBI'). q.v. "PLUGINS" for more information.

    NOTE: 1.0000 has significant file format differences from prior
    versions. There is a backwards-compatibility layer at
    "utils/". Files created by 1.0000 or higher are NOT
    compatible with scripts using prior versions.

    DBM::Deep is a wrapper around different storage engines. These are:

    This is the traditional storage engine, storing the data to a custom
    file format. The parameters accepted are:

    *   file

        Filename of the DB file to link the handle to. You can pass a full
        absolute filesystem path, partial path, or a plain filename if the
        file is in the current working directory. This is a required
        parameter (though q.v. fh).

    *   fh

        If you want, you can pass in the fh instead of the file. This is
        most useful for doing something like:

          my $db = DBM::Deep->new( { fh => \*DATA } );

        You are responsible for making sure that the fh has been opened
        appropriately for your needs. If you open it read-only and attempt
        to write, an exception will be thrown. If you open it write-only or
        append-only, an exception will be thrown immediately as DBM::Deep
        needs to read from the fh.

    *   file_offset

        This is the offset within the file that the DBM::Deep db starts.
        Most of the time, you will not need to set this. However, it's there
        if you want it.

        If you pass in fh and do not set this, it will be set appropriately.

    *   locking

        Specifies whether locking is to be enabled. DBM::Deep uses Perl's
        flock() function to lock the database in exclusive mode for writes,
        and shared mode for reads. Pass any true value to enable. This
        affects the base DB handle *and any child hashes or arrays* that use
        the same DB file. This is an optional parameter, and defaults to 1
        (enabled). See "LOCKING" below for more.

    When you open an existing database file, the version of the database
    format will stay the same. But if you are creating a new file, it will
    be in the latest format.

    This is a storage engine that stores the data in a relational database.
    Funnily enough, this engine doesn't work with transactions (yet) as
    InnoDB doesn't do what DBM::Deep needs it to do.

    The parameters accepted are:

    *   dbh

        This is a DBH that's already been opened with "connect" in DBI.

    *   dbi

        This is a hashref containing:

        *   dsn

        *   username

        *   password

        *   connect_args

        These correspond to the 4 parameters "connect" in DBI takes.

    NOTE: This has only been tested with MySQL and SQLite (with
    disappointing results). I plan on extending this to work with PostgreSQL
    in the near future. Oracle, Sybase, and other engines will come later.

  Planned engines
    There are plans to extend this functionality to (at least) the

    *   BDB (and other hash engines like memcached)

    *   NoSQL engines (such as Tokyo Cabinet)

    *   DBIx::Class (and other ORMs)

    Construction can be done OO-style (which is the recommended way), or
    using Perl's tie() function. Both are examined here.

  OO Construction
    The recommended way to construct a DBM::Deep object is to use the new()
    method, which gets you a blessed *and* tied hash (or array) reference.

      my $db = DBM::Deep->new( "foo.db" );

    This opens a new database handle, mapped to the file "foo.db". If this
    file does not exist, it will automatically be created. DB files are
    opened in "r+" (read/write) mode, and the type of object returned is a
    hash, unless otherwise specified (see "Options" below).

    You can pass a number of options to the constructor to specify things
    like locking, autoflush, etc. This is done by passing an inline hash (or

      my $db = DBM::Deep->new(
          file      => "foo.db",
          locking   => 1,
          autoflush => 1

    Notice that the filename is now specified *inside* the hash with the
    "file" parameter, as opposed to being the sole argument to the
    constructor. This is required if any options are specified. See
    "Options" below for the complete list.

    You can also start with an array instead of a hash. For this, you must
    specify the "type" parameter:

      my $db = DBM::Deep->new(
          file => "foo.db",
          type => DBM::Deep->TYPE_ARRAY

    Note: Specifying the "type" parameter only takes effect when beginning a
    new DB file. If you create a DBM::Deep object with an existing file, the
    "type" will be loaded from the file header, and an error will be thrown
    if the wrong type is passed in.

  Tie Construction
    Alternately, you can create a DBM::Deep handle by using Perl's built-in
    tie() function. The object returned from tie() can be used to call
    methods, such as lock() and unlock(). (That object can be retrieved from
    the tied variable at any time using tied() - please see perltie for more

      my %hash;
      my $db = tie %hash, "DBM::Deep", "foo.db";

      my @array;
      my $db = tie @array, "DBM::Deep", "bar.db";

    As with the OO constructor, you can replace the DB filename parameter
    with a hash containing one or more options (see "Options" just below for
    the complete list).

      tie %hash, "DBM::Deep", {
          file => "foo.db",
          locking => 1,
          autoflush => 1

    There are a number of options that can be passed in when constructing
    your DBM::Deep objects. These apply to both the OO- and tie- based

    *   type

        This parameter specifies what type of object to create, a hash or
        array. Use one of these two constants:

        *   "DBM::Deep->TYPE_HASH"

        *   "DBM::Deep->TYPE_ARRAY"

        This only takes effect when beginning a new file. This is an
        optional parameter, and defaults to "DBM::Deep->TYPE_HASH".

    *   autoflush

        Specifies whether autoflush is to be enabled on the underlying
        filehandle. This obviously slows down write operations, but is
        required if you may have multiple processes accessing the same DB
        file (also consider enable *locking*). Pass any true value to
        enable. This is an optional parameter, and defaults to 1 (enabled).

    *   filter_*

        See "FILTERS" below.

    The following parameters may be specified in the constructor the first
    time the datafile is created. However, they will be stored in the header
    of the file and cannot be overridden by subsequent openings of the file
    - the values will be set from the values stored in the datafile's

    *   num_txns

        This is the number of transactions that can be running at one time.
        The default is one - the HEAD. The minimum is one and the maximum is
        255. The more transactions, the larger and quicker the datafile

        Simple access to a database, regardless of how many processes are
        doing it, already counts as one transaction (the HEAD). So, if you
        want, say, 5 processes to be able to call begin_work at the same
        time, "num_txns" must be at least 6.

        See "TRANSACTIONS" below.

    *   max_buckets

        This is the number of entries that can be added before a reindexing.
        The larger this number is made, the larger a file gets, but the
        better performance you will have. The default and minimum number
        this can be is 16. The maximum is 256, but more than 64 isn't

    *   data_sector_size

        This is the size in bytes of a given data sector. Data sectors will
        chain, so a value of any size can be stored. However, chaining is
        expensive in terms of time. Setting this value to something close to
        the expected common length of your scalars will improve your
        performance. If it is too small, your file will have a lot of
        chaining. If it is too large, your file will have a lot of dead
        space in it.

        The default for this is 64 bytes. The minimum value is 32 and the
        maximum is 256 bytes.

        Note: There are between 6 and 10 bytes taken up in each data sector
        for bookkeeping. (It's 4 + the number of bytes in your "pack_size".)
        This is included within the data_sector_size, thus the effective
        value is 6-10 bytes less than what you specified.

        Another note: If your strings contain any characters beyond the byte
        range, they will be encoded as UTF-8 before being stored in the
        file. This will make all non-ASCII characters take up more than one
        byte each.

    *   pack_size

        This is the size of the file pointer used throughout the file. The
        valid values are:

        *   small

            This uses 2-byte offsets, allowing for a maximum file size of 65

        *   medium (default)

            This uses 4-byte offsets, allowing for a maximum file size of 4

        *   large

            This uses 8-byte offsets, allowing for a maximum file size of 16
            XB (exabytes). This can only be enabled if your Perl is compiled
            for 64-bit.

        See "LARGEFILE SUPPORT" for more information.

    *   external_refs

        This is a boolean option. When enabled, it allows external
        references to database entries to hold on to those entries, even
        when they are deleted.

        To illustrate, if you retrieve a hash (or array) reference from the

          $foo_hash = $db->{foo};

        the hash reference is still tied to the database. So if you

          delete $db->{foo};

        $foo_hash will point to a location in the DB that is no longer valid
        (we call this a stale reference). So if you try to retrieve the data
        from $foo_hash,

          for(keys %$foo_hash) {

        you will get an error.

        The "external_refs" option causes $foo_hash to 'hang on' to the DB
        entry, so it will not be deleted from the database if there is still
        a reference to it in a running program. It will be deleted, instead,
        when the $foo_hash variable no longer exists, or is overwritten.

        This has the potential to cause database bloat if your program
        crashes, so it is not enabled by default. (See also the "export"
        method for an alternative workaround.)

    With DBM::Deep you can access your databases using Perl's standard
    hash/array syntax. Because all DBM::Deep objects are *tied* to hashes or
    arrays, you can treat them as such (but see "external_refs", above, and
    "Stale References", below). DBM::Deep will intercept all reads/writes
    and direct them to the right place -- the DB file. This has nothing to
    do with the "Tie Construction" section above. This simply tells you how
    to use DBM::Deep using regular hashes and arrays, rather than calling
    functions like "get()" and "put()" (although those work too). It is
    entirely up to you how to want to access your databases.

    You can treat any DBM::Deep object like a normal Perl hash reference.
    Add keys, or even nested hashes (or arrays) using standard Perl syntax:

      my $db = DBM::Deep->new( "foo.db" );

      $db->{mykey} = "myvalue";
      $db->{myhash} = {};
      $db->{myhash}->{subkey} = "subvalue";

      print $db->{myhash}->{subkey} . "\n";

    You can even step through hash keys using the normal Perl "keys()"

      foreach my $key (keys %$db) {
          print "$key: " . $db->{$key} . "\n";

    Remember that Perl's "keys()" function extracts *every* key from the
    hash and pushes them onto an array, all before the loop even begins. If
    you have an extremely large hash, this may exhaust Perl's memory.
    Instead, consider using Perl's "each()" function, which pulls
    keys/values one at a time, using very little memory:

      while (my ($key, $value) = each %$db) {
          print "$key: $value\n";

    Please note that when using "each()", you should always pass a direct
    hash reference, not a lookup. Meaning, you should never do this:

      while (my ($key, $value) = each %{$db->{foo}}) { # BAD

    This causes an infinite loop, because for each iteration, Perl is
    calling FETCH() on the $db handle, resulting in a "new" hash for foo
    every time, so it effectively keeps returning the first key over and
    over again. Instead, assign a temporary variable to "$db->{foo}", then
    pass that to each().

    As with hashes, you can treat any DBM::Deep object like a normal Perl
    array reference. This includes inserting, removing and manipulating
    elements, and the "push()", "pop()", "shift()", "unshift()" and
    "splice()" functions. The object must have first been created using type
    "DBM::Deep->TYPE_ARRAY", or simply be a nested array reference inside a
    hash. Example:

      my $db = DBM::Deep->new(
          file => "foo-array.db",
          type => DBM::Deep->TYPE_ARRAY

      $db->[0] = "foo";
      push @$db, "bar", "baz";
      unshift @$db, "bah";

      my $last_elem   = pop @$db;   # baz
      my $first_elem  = shift @$db; # bah
      my $second_elem = $db->[1];   # bar

      my $num_elements = scalar @$db;

    In addition to the *tie()* interface, you can also use a standard OO
    interface to manipulate all aspects of DBM::Deep databases. Each type of
    object (hash or array) has its own methods, but both types share the
    following common methods: "put()", "get()", "exists()", "delete()" and
    "clear()". "fetch()" and "store()" are aliases to "put()" and "get()",

    *   new() / clone()

        These are the constructor and copy-functions.

    *   put() / store()

        Stores a new hash key/value pair, or sets an array element value.
        Takes two arguments, the hash key or array index, and the new value.
        The value can be a scalar, hash ref or array ref. Returns true on
        success, false on failure.

          $db->put("foo", "bar"); # for hashes
          $db->put(1, "bar"); # for arrays

    *   get() / fetch()

        Fetches the value of a hash key or array element. Takes one
        argument: the hash key or array index. Returns a scalar, hash ref or
        array ref, depending on the data type stored.

          my $value = $db->get("foo"); # for hashes
          my $value = $db->get(1); # for arrays

    *   exists()

        Checks if a hash key or array index exists. Takes one argument: the
        hash key or array index. Returns true if it exists, false if not.

          if ($db->exists("foo")) { print "yay!\n"; } # for hashes
          if ($db->exists(1)) { print "yay!\n"; } # for arrays

    *   delete()

        Deletes one hash key/value pair or array element. Takes one
        argument: the hash key or array index. Returns the data that the
        element used to contain (just like Perl's "delete" function), which
        is "undef" if it did not exist. For arrays, the remaining elements
        located after the deleted element are NOT moved over. The deleted
        element is essentially just undefined, which is exactly how Perl's
        internal arrays work.

          $db->delete("foo"); # for hashes
          $db->delete(1); # for arrays

    *   clear()

        Deletes all hash keys or array elements. Takes no arguments. No
        return value.

          $db->clear(); # hashes or arrays

    *   lock() / unlock() / lock_exclusive() / lock_shared()

        q.v. "LOCKING" for more info.

    *   optimize()

        This will compress the datafile so that it takes up as little space
        as possible. There is a freespace manager so that when space is
        freed up, it is used before extending the size of the datafile. But,
        that freespace just sits in the datafile unless "optimize()" is

        "optimize" basically copies everything into a new database, so, if
        it is in version 1.0003 format, it will be upgraded.

    *   import()

        Unlike simple assignment, "import()" does not tie the right-hand
        side. Instead, a copy of your data is put into the DB. "import()"
        takes either an arrayref (if your DB is an array) or a hashref (if
        your DB is a hash). "import()" will die if anything else is passed

    *   export()

        This returns a complete copy of the data structure at the point you
        do the export. This copy is in RAM, not on disk like the DB is.

    *   begin_work() / commit() / rollback()

        These are the transactional functions. "TRANSACTIONS" for more

    *   supports( $option )

        This returns a boolean indicating whether this instance of DBM::Deep
        supports that feature. $option can be one of:

        *   transactions

        *   unicode

    *   db_version()

        This returns the version of the database format that the current
        database is in. This is specified as the earliest version of
        DBM::Deep that supports it.

        For the File back end, this will be 1.0003 or 2.

        For the DBI back end, it is currently always 1.0020.

    For hashes, DBM::Deep supports all the common methods described above,
    and the following additional methods: "first_key()" and "next_key()".

    *   first_key()

        Returns the "first" key in the hash. As with built-in Perl hashes,
        keys are fetched in an undefined order (which appears random). Takes
        no arguments, returns the key as a scalar value.

          my $key = $db->first_key();

    *   next_key()

        Returns the "next" key in the hash, given the previous one as the
        sole argument. Returns undef if there are no more keys to be

          $key = $db->next_key($key);

    Here are some examples of using hashes:

      my $db = DBM::Deep->new( "foo.db" );

      $db->put("foo", "bar");
      print "foo: " . $db->get("foo") . "\n";

      $db->put("baz", {}); # new child hash ref
      $db->get("baz")->put("buz", "biz");
      print "buz: " . $db->get("baz")->get("buz") . "\n";

      my $key = $db->first_key();
      while ($key) {
          print "$key: " . $db->get($key) . "\n";
          $key = $db->next_key($key);

      if ($db->exists("foo")) { $db->delete("foo"); }

    For arrays, DBM::Deep supports all the common methods described above,
    and the following additional methods: "length()", "push()", "pop()",
    "shift()", "unshift()" and "splice()".

    *   length()

        Returns the number of elements in the array. Takes no arguments.

          my $len = $db->length();

    *   push()

        Adds one or more elements onto the end of the array. Accepts
        scalars, hash refs or array refs. No return value.

          $db->push("foo", "bar", {});

    *   pop()

        Fetches the last element in the array, and deletes it. Takes no
        arguments. Returns undef if array is empty. Returns the element

          my $elem = $db->pop();

    *   shift()

        Fetches the first element in the array, deletes it, then shifts all
        the remaining elements over to take up the space. Returns the
        element value. This method is not recommended with large arrays --
        see "Large Arrays" below for details.

          my $elem = $db->shift();

    *   unshift()

        Inserts one or more elements onto the beginning of the array,
        shifting all existing elements over to make room. Accepts scalars,
        hash refs or array refs. No return value. This method is not
        recommended with large arrays -- see <Large Arrays> below for

          $db->unshift("foo", "bar", {});

    *   splice()

        Performs exactly like Perl's built-in function of the same name. See
        "splice" in perlfunc for usage -- it is too complicated to document
        here. This method is not recommended with large arrays -- see "Large
        Arrays" below for details.

    Here are some examples of using arrays:

      my $db = DBM::Deep->new(
          file => "foo.db",
          type => DBM::Deep->TYPE_ARRAY

      $db->push("bar", "baz");
      $db->put(3, "buz");

      my $len = $db->length();
      print "length: $len\n"; # 4

      for (my $k=0; $k<$len; $k++) {
          print "$k: " . $db->get($k) . "\n";

      $db->splice(1, 2, "biz", "baf");

      while (my $elem = shift @$db) {
          print "shifted: $elem\n";

    Enable or disable automatic file locking by passing a boolean value to
    the "locking" parameter when constructing your DBM::Deep object (see
    "SETUP" above).

      my $db = DBM::Deep->new(
          file => "foo.db",
          locking => 1

    This causes DBM::Deep to "flock()" the underlying filehandle with
    exclusive mode for writes, and shared mode for reads. This is required
    if you have multiple processes accessing the same database file, to
    avoid file corruption. Please note that "flock()" does NOT work for
    files over NFS. See "DB over NFS" below for more.

  Explicit Locking
    You can explicitly lock a database, so it remains locked for multiple
    actions. This is done by calling the "lock_exclusive()" method (for when
    you want to write) or the "lock_shared()" method (for when you want to
    read). This is particularly useful for things like counters, where the
    current value needs to be fetched, then incremented, then stored again.

      my $counter = $db->get("counter");
      $db->put("counter", $counter);

      # or...


    Due to Win32 actually enforcing the read-only status of a shared lock,
    all locks on Win32 and cygwin are exclusive. This is because of how
    autovivification currently works. Hopefully, this will go away in a
    future release.

    You can import existing complex structures by calling the "import()"
    method, and export an entire database into an in-memory structure using
    the "export()" method. Both are examined here.

    Say you have an existing hash with nested hashes/arrays inside it.
    Instead of walking the structure and adding keys/elements to the
    database as you go, simply pass a reference to the "import()" method.
    This recursively adds everything to an existing DBM::Deep object for
    you. Here is an example:

      my $struct = {
          key1 => "value1",
          key2 => "value2",
          array1 => [ "elem0", "elem1", "elem2" ],
          hash1 => {
              subkey1 => "subvalue1",
              subkey2 => "subvalue2"

      my $db = DBM::Deep->new( "foo.db" );
      $db->import( $struct );

      print $db->{key1} . "\n"; # prints "value1"

    This recursively imports the entire $struct object into $db, including
    all nested hashes and arrays. If the DBM::Deep object contains existing
    data, keys are merged with the existing ones, replacing if they already
    exist. The "import()" method can be called on any database level (not
    just the base level), and works with both hash and array DB types.

    Note: Make sure your existing structure has no circular references in
    it. These will cause an infinite loop when importing. There are plans to
    fix this in a later release.

    Calling the "export()" method on an existing DBM::Deep object will
    return a reference to a new in-memory copy of the database. The export
    is done recursively, so all nested hashes/arrays are all exported to
    standard Perl objects. Here is an example:

      my $db = DBM::Deep->new( "foo.db" );

      $db->{key1} = "value1";
      $db->{key2} = "value2";
      $db->{hash1} = {};
      $db->{hash1}->{subkey1} = "subvalue1";
      $db->{hash1}->{subkey2} = "subvalue2";

      my $struct = $db->export();

      print $struct->{key1} . "\n"; # prints "value1"

    This makes a complete copy of the database in memory, and returns a
    reference to it. The "export()" method can be called on any database
    level (not just the base level), and works with both hash and array DB
    types. Be careful of large databases -- you can store a lot more data in
    a DBM::Deep object than an in-memory Perl structure.

    Note: Make sure your database has no circular references in it. These
    will cause an infinite loop when exporting. There are plans to fix this
    in a later release.

    DBM::Deep has a number of hooks where you can specify your own Perl
    function to perform filtering on incoming or outgoing data. This is a
    perfect way to extend the engine, and implement things like real-time
    compression or encryption. Filtering applies to the base DB level, and
    all child hashes / arrays. Filter hooks can be specified when your
    DBM::Deep object is first constructed, or by calling the "set_filter()"
    method at any time. There are four available filter hooks.

    This method takes two parameters - the filter type and the filter
    subreference. The four types are:

    *   filter_store_key

        This filter is called whenever a hash key is stored. It is passed
        the incoming key, and expected to return a transformed key.

    *   filter_store_value

        This filter is called whenever a hash key or array element is
        stored. It is passed the incoming value, and expected to return a
        transformed value.

    *   filter_fetch_key

        This filter is called whenever a hash key is fetched (i.e. via
        "first_key()" or "next_key()"). It is passed the transformed key,
        and expected to return the plain key.

    *   filter_fetch_value

        This filter is called whenever a hash key or array element is
        fetched. It is passed the transformed value, and expected to return
        the plain value.

    Here are the two ways to setup a filter hook:

      my $db = DBM::Deep->new(
          file => "foo.db",
          filter_store_value => \&my_filter_store,
          filter_fetch_value => \&my_filter_fetch

      # or...

      $db->set_filter( "store_value", \&my_filter_store );
      $db->set_filter( "fetch_value", \&my_filter_fetch );

    Your filter function will be called only when dealing with SCALAR keys
    or values. When nested hashes and arrays are being stored/fetched,
    filtering is bypassed. Filters are called as static functions, passed a
    single SCALAR argument, and expected to return a single SCALAR value. If
    you want to remove a filter, set the function reference to "undef":

      $db->set_filter( "store_value", undef );

    Please read DBM::Deep::Cookbook for examples of filters.

    Most DBM::Deep methods return a true value for success, and call die()
    on failure. You can wrap calls in an eval block to catch the die.

      my $db = DBM::Deep->new( "foo.db" ); # create hash
      eval { $db->push("foo"); }; # ILLEGAL -- push is array-only call

      print $@;           # prints error message

    If you have a 64-bit system, and your Perl is compiled with both
    LARGEFILE and 64-bit support, you *may* be able to create databases
    larger than 4 GB. DBM::Deep by default uses 32-bit file offset tags, but
    these can be changed by specifying the 'pack_size' parameter when
    constructing the file.

          file      => $filename,
          pack_size => 'large',

    This tells DBM::Deep to pack all file offsets with 8-byte (64-bit) quad
    words instead of 32-bit longs. After setting these values your DB files
    have a theoretical maximum size of 16 XB (exabytes).

    You can also use "pack_size => 'small'" in order to use 16-bit file

    Note: Changing these values will NOT work for existing database files.
    Only change this for new files. Once the value has been set, it is
    stored in the file's header and cannot be changed for the life of the
    file. These parameters are per-file, meaning you can access 32-bit and
    64-bit files, as you choose.

    Note: We have not personally tested files larger than 4 GB -- all our
    systems have only a 32-bit Perl. However, we have received user reports
    that this does indeed work.

    If you require low-level access to the underlying filehandle that
    DBM::Deep uses, you can call the "_fh()" method, which returns the

      my $fh = $db->_fh();

    This method can be called on the root level of the database, or any
    child hashes or arrays. All levels share a *root* structure, which
    contains things like the filehandle, a reference counter, and all the
    options specified when you created the object. You can get access to
    this file object by calling the "_storage()" method.

      my $file_obj = $db->_storage();

    This is useful for changing options after the object has already been
    created, such as enabling/disabling locking. You can also store your own
    temporary user data in this structure (be wary of name collision), which
    is then accessible from any child hash or array.

    DBM::Deep has full support for circular references. Meaning you can have
    a nested hash key or array element that points to a parent object. This
    relationship is stored in the DB file, and is preserved between
    sessions. Here is an example:

      my $db = DBM::Deep->new( "foo.db" );

      $db->{foo} = "bar";
      $db->{circle} = $db; # ref to self

      print $db->{foo} . "\n"; # prints "bar"
      print $db->{circle}->{foo} . "\n"; # prints "bar" again

    This also works as expected with array and hash references. So, the
    following works as expected:

      $db->{foo} = [ 1 .. 3 ];
      $db->{bar} = $db->{foo};

      push @{$db->{foo}}, 42;
      is( $db->{bar}[-1], 42 ); # Passes

    This, however, does *not* extend to assignments from one DB file to
    another. So, the following will throw an error:

      my $db1 = DBM::Deep->new( "foo.db" );
      my $db2 = DBM::Deep->new( "bar.db" );

      $db1->{foo} = [];
      $db2->{foo} = $db1->{foo}; # dies

    Note: Passing the object to a function that recursively walks the object
    tree (such as *Data::Dumper* or even the built-in "optimize()" or
    "export()" methods) will result in an infinite loop. This will be fixed
    in a future release by adding singleton support.

    As of 1.0000, DBM::Deep has ACID transactions. Every DBM::Deep object is
    completely transaction-ready - it is not an option you have to turn on.
    You do have to specify how many transactions may run simultaneously
    (q.v. "num_txns").

    Three new methods have been added to support them. They are:

    *   begin_work()

        This starts a transaction.

    *   commit()

        This applies the changes done within the transaction to the mainline
        and ends the transaction.

    *   rollback()

        This discards the changes done within the transaction to the
        mainline and ends the transaction.

    Transactions in DBM::Deep are done using a variant of the MVCC method,
    the same method used by the InnoDB MySQL engine.

    As of 1.0000, the file format has changed. To aid in upgrades, a
    migration script is provided within the CPAN distribution, called

    NOTE: This script is not installed onto your system because it carries a
    copy of every version prior to the current version.

    As of version 2.0000, databases created by old versions back to 1.0003
    can be read, but new features may not be available unless the database
    is upgraded first.

    The following are items that are planned to be added in future releases.
    These are separate from the "CAVEATS, ISSUES & BUGS" below.

    Right now, you cannot run a transaction within a transaction. Removing
    this restriction is technically straightforward, but the combinatorial
    explosion of possible usecases hurts my head. If this is something you
    want to see immediately, please submit many testcases.

    If a client is willing to assert upon opening the file that this process
    will be the only consumer of that datafile, then there are a number of
    caching possibilities that can be taken advantage of. This does,
    however, mean that DBM::Deep is more vulnerable to losing data due to
    unflushed changes. It also means a much larger in-memory footprint. As
    such, it's not clear exactly how this should be done. Suggestions are

    The techniques used in DBM::Deep simply require a seekable contiguous
    datastore. This could just as easily be a large string as a file. By
    using substr, the STM capabilities of DBM::Deep could be used within a
    single-process. I have no idea how I'd specify this, though. Suggestions
    are welcome.

  Different contention resolution mechanisms
    Currently, the only contention resolution mechanism is last-write-wins.
    This is the mechanism used by most RDBMSes and should be good enough for
    most uses. For advanced uses of STM, other contention mechanisms will be
    needed. If you have an idea of how you'd like to see contention
    resolution in DBM::Deep, please let me know.

    This section describes all the known issues with DBM::Deep. These are
    issues that are either intractable or depend on some feature within Perl
    working exactly right. It you have found something that is not listed
    below, please send an e-mail to
    <>. Likewise, if you think you know of a
    way around one of these issues, please let me know.

    (The following assumes a high level of Perl understanding, specifically
    of references. Most users can safely skip this section.)

    Currently, the only references supported are HASH and ARRAY. The other
    reference types (SCALAR, CODE, GLOB, and REF) cannot be supported for
    various reasons.

    *   GLOB

        These are things like filehandles and other sockets. They can't be
        supported because it's completely unclear how DBM::Deep should
        serialize them.

    *   SCALAR / REF

        The discussion here refers to the following type of example:

          my $x = 25;
          $db->{key1} = \$x;

          $x = 50;

          # In some other process ...

          my $val = ${ $db->{key1} };

          is( $val, 50, "What actually gets stored in the DB file?" );

        The problem is one of synchronization. When the variable being
        referred to changes value, the reference isn't notified, which is
        kind of the point of references. This means that the new value won't
        be stored in the datafile for other processes to read. There is no

        It is theoretically possible to store references to values already
        within a DBM::Deep object because everything already is
        synchronized, but the change to the internals would be quite large.
        Specifically, DBM::Deep would have to tie every single value that is
        stored. This would bloat the RAM footprint of DBM::Deep at least
        twofold (if not more) and be a significant performance drain, all to
        support a feature that has never been requested.

    *   CODE

        Data::Dump::Streamer provides a mechanism for serializing coderefs,
        including saving off all closure state. This would allow for
        DBM::Deep to store the code for a subroutine. Then, whenever the
        subroutine is read, the code could be "eval()"'ed into being.
        However, just as for SCALAR and REF, that closure state may change
        without notifying the DBM::Deep object storing the reference. Again,
        this would generally be considered a feature.

  External references and transactions
    If you do "my $x = $db->{foo};", then start a transaction, $x will be
    referencing the database from outside the transaction. A fix for this
    (and other issues with how external references into the database) is
    being looked into. This is the skipped set of tests in t/39_singletons.t
    and a related issue is the focus of t/37_delete_edge_cases.t

  File corruption
    The current level of error handling in DBM::Deep is minimal. Files *are*
    checked for a 32-bit signature when opened, but any other form of
    corruption in the datafile can cause segmentation faults. DBM::Deep may
    try to "seek()" past the end of a file, or get stuck in an infinite loop
    depending on the level and type of corruption. File write operations are
    not checked for failure (for speed), so if you happen to run out of disk
    space, DBM::Deep will probably fail in a bad way. These things will be
    addressed in a later version of DBM::Deep.

  DB over NFS
    Beware of using DBM::Deep files over NFS. DBM::Deep uses flock(), which
    works well on local filesystems, but will NOT protect you from file
    corruption over NFS. I've heard about setting up your NFS server with a
    locking daemon, then using "lockf()" to lock your files, but your
    mileage may vary there as well. From what I understand, there is no real
    way to do it. However, if you need access to the underlying filehandle
    in DBM::Deep for using some other kind of locking scheme like "lockf()",
    see the "LOW-LEVEL ACCESS" section above.

  Copying Objects
    Beware of copying tied objects in Perl. Very strange things can happen.
    Instead, use DBM::Deep's "clone()" method which safely copies the object
    and returns a new, blessed and tied hash or array to the same level in
    the DB.

      my $copy = $db->clone();

    Note: Since clone() here is cloning the object, not the database
    location, any modifications to either $db or $copy will be visible to

  Stale References
    If you take a reference to an array or hash from the database, it is
    tied to the database itself. This means that if the datum in question is
    subsequently deleted from the database, the reference to it will point
    to an invalid location and unpredictable things will happen if you try
    to use it.

    So a seemingly innocuous piece of code like this:

      my %hash = %{ $db->{some_hash} };

    can fail if another process deletes or clobbers "$db->{some_hash}" while
    the data are being extracted, since "%{ ... }" is not atomic. (This
    actually happened.) The solution is to lock the database before reading
    the data:

      my %hash = %{ $db->{some_hash} };

    As of version 1.0024, if you assign a stale reference to a location in
    the database, DBM::Deep will warn, if you have uninitialized warnings
    enabled, and treat the stale reference as "undef". An attempt to use a
    stale reference as an array or hash reference will cause an error.

  Large Arrays
    Beware of using "shift()", "unshift()" or "splice()" with large arrays.
    These functions cause every element in the array to move, which can be
    murder on DBM::Deep, as every element has to be fetched from disk, then
    stored again in a different location. This will be addressed in a future

    This has been somewhat addressed so that the cost is constant,
    regardless of what is stored at those locations. So, small arrays with
    huge data structures in them are faster. But, large arrays are still

  Writeonly Files
    If you pass in a filehandle to new(), you may have opened it in either a
    readonly or writeonly mode. STORE will verify that the filehandle is
    writable. However, there doesn't seem to be a good way to determine if a
    filehandle is readable. And, if the filehandle isn't readable, it's not
    clear what will happen. So, don't do that.

  Assignments Within Transactions
    The following will *not* work as one might expect:

      my $x = { a => 1 };

      $db->{foo} = $x;

      is( $x->{a}, 1 ); # This will fail!

    The problem is that the moment a reference used as the rvalue to a
    DBM::Deep object's lvalue, it becomes tied itself. This is so that
    future changes to $x can be tracked within the DBM::Deep file and is
    considered to be a feature. By the time the rollback occurs, there is no
    knowledge that there had been an $x or what memory location to assign an
    "export()" to.

    NOTE: This does not affect importing because imports do a walk over the
    reference to be imported in order to explicitly leave it untied.

    Devel::Cover is used to test the code coverage of the tests. Below is
    the Devel::Cover report on this distribution's test suite.

      ---------------------------- ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
      File                           stmt   bran   cond    sub    pod   time  total
      ---------------------------- ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
      blib/lib/DBM/          100.0   89.1   82.9  100.0  100.0   32.5   98.1
      blib/lib/DBM/Deep/    100.0   94.4  100.0  100.0  100.0    5.2   98.8
      blib/lib/DBM/Deep/   100.0   92.9  100.0  100.0  100.0    7.4  100.0
      ...ib/DBM/Deep/Engine/   95.0   73.1  100.0  100.0  100.0    1.5   90.4
      ...b/DBM/Deep/Engine/   92.3   78.5   88.9  100.0  100.0    4.9   90.3
      blib/lib/DBM/Deep/     100.0  100.0  100.0  100.0  100.0    3.8  100.0
      .../lib/DBM/Deep/  100.0    n/a    n/a  100.0  100.0    0.0  100.0
      .../DBM/Deep/Iterator/  100.0  100.0    n/a  100.0  100.0    1.2  100.0
      ...DBM/Deep/Iterator/   92.5   84.6    n/a  100.0   66.7    0.6   90.0
      ...erator/File/  100.0   75.0    n/a  100.0   66.7    0.4   93.8
      ...ep/Iterator/File/  100.0  100.0    n/a  100.0  100.0    0.2  100.0
      blib/lib/DBM/Deep/      87.5    n/a    n/a   75.0    n/a    0.0   83.3
      blib/lib/DBM/Deep/    91.7    n/a    n/a   83.3    0.0    6.7   74.4
      ...ib/DBM/Deep/Sector/   96.8   83.3    n/a  100.0    0.0    1.0   89.8
      ...p/Sector/DBI/  100.0   95.5  100.0  100.0    0.0    2.2   91.2
      ...Deep/Sector/DBI/  100.0  100.0    n/a  100.0    0.0    1.1   92.9
      ...b/DBM/Deep/Sector/   96.0   87.5  100.0   92.3   25.0    2.2   91.0
      ...Sector/File/   98.2   85.7   83.3  100.0    0.0    3.3   89.4
      .../Deep/Sector/File/  100.0    n/a    n/a  100.0    0.0    0.1   90.9
      ...Deep/Sector/File/  100.0   80.0   33.3  100.0    0.0    0.8   83.1
      .../Deep/Sector/File/  100.0  100.0    n/a  100.0    0.0    0.0   91.7
      .../Sector/File/  100.0   90.0   80.0  100.0    0.0    1.4   91.5
      ...eep/Sector/File/   98.4   87.5    n/a  100.0    0.0    0.8   91.9
      blib/lib/DBM/Deep/  100.0    n/a    n/a  100.0  100.0    0.0  100.0
      ...b/DBM/Deep/Storage/   97.3   70.8    n/a  100.0   38.5    6.7   87.0
      .../DBM/Deep/Storage/   96.6   77.1   80.0   95.7  100.0   16.0   91.8
      Total                          99.3   85.2   84.9   99.8   63.3  100.0   97.6
      ---------------------------- ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------

    Check out the DBM::Deep Google Group at
    <> or send email to <>. You can
    also visit #dbm-deep on

    The source code repository is at <>

    Rob Kinyon, <>

    Originally written by Joseph Huckaby,

    Stonehenge Consulting (<>) sponsored the
    development of transactions and freespace management, leading to the
    1.0000 release. A great debt of gratitude goes out to them for their
    continuing leadership in and support of the Perl community.

    The following have contributed greatly to make DBM::Deep what it is

    *   Adam Sah and Rich Gaushell for innumerable contributions early on.

    *   Dan Golden and others at YAPC::NA 2006 for helping me design through

    *   James Stanley for bug fix

    *   David Steinbrunner for fixing typos and adding repository cpan

    *   H. Merijn Brandt for fixing the POD escapes.

    *   Breno G. de Oliveira for minor packaging tweaks


    perltie(1), Tie::Hash(3), Fcntl(3), flock(2), lockf(3), nfs(5)

    Copyright (c) 2007-14 Rob Kinyon. All Rights Reserved. This is free
    software, you may use it and distribute it under the same terms as Perl