Chapter 13.  Binary Large Objects

Binary Large Objects (BLOB) support is designed for efficient storage of large objects. An object is considered to be large if it is more than a third of the size of a page. Without BLOB support, large objects must be broken up into smaller pieces, and then reassembled and/or disassembled every time the record is read or updated. Berkeley DB BLOB support avoids this assembly/disassembly process by storing the large object in a special directory set aside for the purpose. The data itself is not kept in the database, nor is it placed into the in-memory cache.

BLOBs can only be stored using the data portion of a key/data pair. They are supported only for Btree, Hash, and Heap databases, and only so long as the database is not configured for checksums, encryption, duplicate records, or duplicate sorted records. In addition, the DBT that you use to access the BLOB data cannot be configured as a partial DBT if you want to access the data using the BLOB's streaming interface (introduced below).

Note that if the environment is transactionally-protected, then all access to the BLOB is also transactionally protected.

BLOBs are not supported for environments configured for replication. Nor can BLOBs be used with in-memory-only databases.

In order to use Berkeley DB's BLOB support, you must set the BLOB threshold to a non-zero positive value. (The default value is 0, which means that BLOBs are not enabled). You set the BLOB threshold using either DB->set_blob_threshold() or DB_ENV->set_blob_threshold().

Once BLOBs are enabled, there are two ways to create a BLOB record:

BLOBs may be accessed in the same way as other DBT data, so long as the data itself will fit into memory. More likely, you will find it necessary to use the BLOB streaming API to read and write BLOB data. You open a BLOB stream using the DBC->db_stream() method, close it with the DB_STREAM->close() method, write to it using the the DB_STREAM->write() method, and read it using the DB_STREAM->read() method.

BLOBs and Related Methods