Rocio  O'Keefe

Rocio O'Keefe


Call for Feedback: The New PHP and HHVM Drivers

In the beginning Kristina created the MongoDB PHP driver. Now the PECL _mongo_ extension was new and untested, write operations tended to be fire-and-forget, and Boolean parameters made more sense than _$options_ arrays. And Kristina said, “Let there be MongoCollection,” and there was basic functionality.

Since the PHP driver first appeared on the scene, MongoDB has gone through many changes. Replica sets and sharding arrived early on, but things like the aggregation framework and command cursors were little more than a twinkle in  Eliot’s eye at the time. The early drivers were designed with many assumptions in mind: write operations and commands were very different; the largest replica set would have no more than a dozen nodes; cursors were only returned by basic queries. In 2015, we know that these assumptions no longer hold true.

Beyond MongoDB’s features, our ecosystem has also changed. When the PHP driver, a C extension, was first implemented, there wasn’t yet a  C driver that we could utilize. Therefore, the 1.x PHP driver contains its own BSON and connection management C libraries.  HHVM, an alternative PHP runtime with its own C++ extension API, also did not exist years ago, nor was  PHP 7.0 on the horizon. Lastly, methods of packaging and distributing libraries have changed.  Composer has superseded PEAR as the de facto standard for PHP libaries and support for extensions (currently handled by PECL) is forthcoming.

During the spring of 2014, we worked with a team of students from  Facebook’s Open Academy program to prototype an  HHVM driver modeled after the 1.x API. The purpose of that project was twofold: research HHVM’s extension API and determine the feasibility of building a driver atop  libmongoc (our then new C driver) and  libbson. Although the final result was not feature complete, the project was a valuable learning experience. The C driver proved quite up to the task, and HNI, which allows an HHVM extension to be written with a combination of PHP and C++, highlighted critical areas of the driver for which we’d want to use C.


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Call for Feedback: The New PHP and HHVM Drivers

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