Tag Archives: Marten

How we did (and did not) improve performance and efficiency in Marten 2.0

Marten 2.0 was released yesterday, and one of the improvements is somewhat significantly runtime performance and far better memory utilization in applications that use Marten. For today’s blog post, here’s what we did and tried to get there:

  • Avoiding Json strings whenever possible. Some time last year Ayende wrote a “review” of Marten on his blog before almost immediately retracting it. While I didn’t agree with most of his criticisms, he did call out Marten for being inefficient in its Json serialization by reading and writing the full Json strings instead of opting for more efficient mechanisms of reading or writing via byte arrays or Stream’s. The “write” side of this problem was largely solved in Marten 2.0, but after some related changes in the underlying Npgsql library, the “read” side of Marten uses TextReader’s as the input to Json serialization, therefore bypassing the need to create then immediately tear down string objects. These changes reduced the memory allocations in Marten almost by half, with maybe a 15-20% improvement in performance.
  • StringBuilder for all SQL command build up. I know what you’re thinking, “duh, StringBuilder is way more efficient than string concatenation,” but Marten got off the ground by mostly using string interpolation and concatenation. For 2.0, I went back over all that code and switched to StringBuilder’s, which has the nice impact of reducing memory utilization quite a bit (it didn’t make that much difference in performance). I absolutely don’t regret starting with simpler, cruder mechanisms to get things working before pulling in this optimization.
  • FastExpressionCompiler – Marten heavily uses dynamically generated Expression’s that are then compiled to Func or Action’s for document persistence and loading. The excellent FastExpressionCompiler library from Maksim Volkau replaces the built in Expression compilation with a new model that results both in delegates that are faster in runtime, and also reduces the compilation time of these expressions. Using FastExpressionCompiler makes Marten bootstrap faster, which made a huge improvement in Marten’s test suite execution. I measured about a 10% throughput performance in Marten’s benchmarks just by using this library
  • Newtonsoft.Json 9 to 10 and back to 9 – Newtonsoft.Json 10 was measurably slower in the Marten benchmarks, so we reverted back to 9.0.1. Bummer. You can always opt for Jil or other alternatives for considerably faster json serialization, but we found too many cases where Jil errored out on document types that Newtonsoft.Json handled just fine, so we stuck with Newtonsoft as the default based on the idea that the code should at least work;)


What’s left to do for performance?

  • I’m sure we could get better with our mechanics for byte[] or char[] pooling and probably some buffering in the ADO.Net manipulation during async methods
  • We know there are some places where the Linq provider generates Sql that isn’t as efficient as it could be. We might try to tackle this tactically in use case by use case, but I’m hoping for the version of Postgresql after 10 to get their improved Json querying functionality based on JsonPath before we do anything big to the Linq support.

Marten 2.0 is Out!



I was just able to push the official Marten 2.0 nuget — and update the documentation after the Github outage today settled down;) The “2.0” moniker reflects the fact that there are some breaking API changes, but it’s doubtful that a typical user would even see them. A few operations moved off of IDocumentStore.Advanced and the Linq extensibility interface changed somewhat.

I’m going to be lazy and leave blog posts with actual content for later this week, but the highlights are:

  • Better performance and less memory usage — I’ll blog about what we did tomorrow
  • Much more flexibility in the event store and hopefully improved usability
  • Explicit insert and update document operations as opposed to the default “upsert” functionality
  • Multi-tenancy support within a single database
  • Persist and query documents serialized with camel casing (or snake casing) — a big request from several users who wanted to be able to stream the raw document json in Http services
  • The ability to run Marten with PLV8 disabled in environments where that extension is not (yet) available *cough* Azure *cough*

It’s not the slightest bit interesting to end users, but there was a massive change to the Marten internals for checking, updating, and creating schema objects in the underlying Postgresql database. That change has made it much easier to introduce changes of all kinds into Marten, and should allow for an easy extensibility model later.

The entire list of changes and contributions is here on the Github milestone page.

Thank you to…

I’m going to miss someone here, but the long list of folks who deserve some thanks for this release:

  • A special thanks to Joona-Pekka for tackling documentation updates and some uglier fixes in this release
  • James Hopper
  • Szymon Kulec for his help in the performance updates
  • Jarrod Alexander
  • Babu Annamalai for getting us running on AppVeyor, TravisCI, and up on the VS2017 project system
  • Eric Green, Daniel Wertheim, Wastaz, Marc Piechura, and Jeff Doolittle for their input to the event store functionality in this release
  • Bibodha Neupane (my colleague who’s been dogfooding the multi-tenancy support on one of our projects)
  • James Farrer
  • Michał Gajek
  • Eric J. Smith
  • Drew Peterson

and other folks that I surely missed.

Marten has probably been the best OSS project I’ve ever been a part of in terms of community input and involvement and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes next.


What’s next?

Marten 2.1 will actually drop pretty soon with some in flight functionality that wasn’t quite ready today. And since nothing in this world attracts user bugs like a major version release, assume that a bug fix release is shortly forthcoming;)





An Early Look at Multi-Tenancy in Marten 2.0

The code shown in this post is in flight and I’m just writing this post to try to get more feedback and suggestions on the approach we’re going so far before doing anything silly like making an official release.

The Marten community has been working toward a 2.0 release some time in the next couple months (hopefully in June for my own peace of mind). Since it is a full point release, we can entertain breaking API changes and major restructuring of the code. The big ticket items have been improving performance, reducing memory usage inside of Marten, a yet-to-be-completely-defined overhaul of the event store. The biggest change by far in terms of development time is the introduction of multi-tenancy support within Marten.

From Wikipedia:

The term “software multitenancy” refers to a software architecture in which a single instance of software runs on a server and serves multiple tenants. A tenant is a group of users who share a common access with specific privileges to the software instance.

The gist of multi-tenancy is that you are able to store and retrieve data tied to a tenant (client/customer/etc.), preferably in a way that prevents one tenant’s users from seeing or editing data from other tenants — and yes, I have indeed seen systems that screwed up on this in harmful ways.

To make this a little more concrete, here’s a sample:

public void use_multiple_tenants()
    // Set up a basic DocumentStore with multi-tenancy
    // via a tenant_id column
    var store = DocumentStore.For(_ =>
        // This sets up the DocumentStore to be multi-tenanted
        // by a tenantid column

    // Write some User documents to tenant "tenant1"
    using (var session = store.OpenSession("tenant1"))
        session.Store(new User{UserName = "Bill"});
        session.Store(new User{UserName = "Lindsey"});

    // Write some User documents to tenant "tenant2"
    using (var session = store.OpenSession("tenant2"))
        session.Store(new User { UserName = "Jill" });
        session.Store(new User { UserName = "Frank" });

    // When you query for data from the "tenant1" tenant,
    // you only get data for that tenant
    using (var query = store.QuerySession("tenant1"))
            .Select(x => x.UserName)
            .ShouldHaveTheSameElementsAs("Bill", "Lindsey");

    using (var query = store.QuerySession("tenant2"))
                .Select(x => x.UserName)
                .ShouldHaveTheSameElementsAs("Jill", "Frank");

There are three basic possibilities for multi-tenancy that we are considering or building:

  1. Separate database per tenant — For maximum separation of different client’s data, you can opt to store the information in separate databases with the same schema structure, with the obvious downside being more complicated deployments and quite possibly requiring more hosting infrastructure. At runtime, when you tell Marten what the tenant is, and behind the scenes it will look up the database connection information for that tenant and possibly create a missing tenant database on the fly in development modes. We don’t quite have this scenario supported yet, but we’ve done a lot of preparatory work in Marten’s internals to enable this mechanism to work without having to blow up application memory by duplicating objects underneath the DocumentStore objects for each tenant.
  2. Separate schema per tenant — Using a separate schema in the same database for each tenant might be a great compromise between data separation and server utilization. Unfortunately, some Marten internals are making this one harder than it should be. Today, you can opt to stick different document types into different schemas. My theory is that if we could eliminate that feature, we could drastically simplify this scenario.
  3. Multi-tenancy in a single table with a tenant id — The third possibility is to store all tenant data in the same tables, but use a new “tenant_id” column to distinguish between tenants. Marten needs to be smart enough to quietly filter all queries based on the current tenant and to always write documents to the current tenant id. Likewise, Marten has been changed so that you cannot modify data from any other tenant than the current tenant for a session. Most of the work to support this option is already done and I expect this to be the most commonly used approach.

Right now, we’re very close to fully supporting #3, and not too far away from #1 either. I have a theory that we could support a kind of hybrid of #1 and either #2 or #3 that could be the basis for sharding Marten databases.

We *could* also do multi-tenancy by having separate tables per tenant in the same schema, but that’s way more work inside of Marten internals and I just flat out don’t want to do that.

So, um, what do you think? What would you use or change?

Marten 1.3 is Out: Bugfixes, Usability Improvements, and a lot less Memory Usage

I just uploaded Marten 1.3.0 to Nuget (but note that Nuget has had issues today with the index updating being delayed). This release is mostly bugfixes, but there’s some new functionality, and significant improvements to performance on document updates and bulk inserts. You can see the entire list of changes here with some highlights below.

I’d like to thank Marten contributors Eric Green, James Hopper, Michał Gajek, Barry Hagan, and Babu Annamalai for their contributions in this release. A special thanks goes out to Szymon Kulec for all his efforts in both Marten and Npgsgl to reduce Marten’s memory allocations.

Thanks to Phillip Haydon There’s a slew of new documentation on our website about Postgresql for Sql Server folks.

What’s New?

It wasn’t a huge release for new features, but these were added:

  1. New “AsPagedList()” helper for fetching documents by page
  2. Query for deleted, not deleted, or all documents marked as “soft deleted
  3. Indexes on Marten’s metadata columns
  4. Querying by the document metadata

What’s Next?

The next release is going to be Marten 2.0 because we need to make a handful of breaking API changes (don’t worry, it’s very unlikely that most users would hit this). The big ticket item is a lot more work to reduce memory allocations throughout Marten. The other, not-in-the-slightest-bit-sexy change is to standardize and streamline Marten’s facilities for database change tracking with the hope that this work will make it far easier to start adding new features again.

Marten 1.2 — Improved Linq support and way more polish

Marten is a library for .Net that turns Postgresql into a document database and event store.

I just published the Marten 1.2 release to Nuget. While I hoped to fit a lot more new functionality into this release, 1.2 really just adds a lot more polish to Marten by fixing several bugs, makes some performance improvements based on my company’s trial by fire usage of Marten during our peak “season”, and by largely reworking the internals of the Linq support.

Marten continues to have a vibrant community of interested folks and contributors that are helping push the project on. Probably missing some names, but I’d like to call out James Hopperjokokko, Barry Hagan,  Alexander Langer, and Robin van der Knaap for their contributions to this release. I’d also like to thank all of you who have opened and commented on Github issues to help improve Marten. If this all keeps up long enough, I may finally stop being so cynical about OSS on the .Net platform;)

Here’s the entire list of changes from the GitHub milestone. The highlights of the 1.2 release are:

  • Support for the SelectMany() operator in Linq queries (this story spurred an absurd amount of rework in our Linq support that I think will make it easier to add more features in subsequent releases)
  • Distinct() Linq query support
  • Named parameter usage in user supplied queries
  • Better logging and exception messages
  • Marten’s sequential Guid algorithm was corrected to order consistently with Postgresql. This should result in better write performance in Marten usage with Guid id’s.
  • Marten tries harder to warn you when you use unsupported Linq operators
  • Several improvements to querying against child collections
  • The ability to use event metadata in the built in aggregation projections
  • Cleaned up some of the database connection mechanics to stop mixing blocking and async calls and makes Marten much more aggressive about closing database connections


What’s Next?

I’m not 100% sure I want to commit to another new release before the holiday season, but 1.3 is looking like it’s going to be a lot of improvements for querying against multiple documents, new types of Select() transformations, and working over the internals to optimize performance.

The tentative list of 1.3 enhancements can be seen here.



Marten 1.1 Release Notes

Marten 1.1 was released just now (as in, hold your horses until Nuget gets done indexing it) with an assortment of bug fixes, performance & reliability improvements, and a couple of new convenience methods. As our teams have used Marten more at work, we’ve also had to make some adjustments for running Marten under reduced Postgresql security privileges and with the “AutoCreateSchemaObjects == None” mode. Finally, we had to add a couple new public members to existing API’s, so SemVer rules mean this had to be a minor point bump.

So what’s new or different? You can find the entire 1.1 issue and pull request list in GitHub. The highlights are described below:

Distinct() Support in Linq

From a pull request by John Campion, Marten now supports the Linq Distinct() keyword:

public void use_distinct(IQuerySession session)
    var surnames = session
        .Select(x => x.LastName)

Better Connection and Transaction Hygiene

I’m a little embarrassed by this one, but at least we got it before it did too much harm. Marten had been too aggressive in starting transactions in sessions which has had the effect of making Npgsql send extraneous ROLLBACK; messages to Postgresql to close out the empty transactions. In some failure cases, our team at work was seeing this cause a connection to hang. We made two fixes for this behavior:

First off, if you IDocumentSession.SaveChanges(Async) is called when there are no outstanding changes queued up, Marten does absolutely nothing. No connection opened, no transaction started, just nothing.

Secondly, Marten now starts transactions lazily within an IDocumentSession. So instead of starting a transaction on the first time a session opens a connection to Postgresql, it defers that until SaveChanges() or SaveChangesAsync() is called.

public void lazy_tx(IDocumentSession session)
    // Executing this query will *not* start
    // a new transaction
    var users = session
        .Where(x => x.Internal)

    session.Store(new User {UserName = "lebron"});

    // This starts a transaction against the open
    // connection before doing any writes

Data Migration Improvements

From our work on moving document storage from RavenDb to Marten (and other users too), we’ve bumped into a little bit of friction in Marten. The bulk inserts in either of the non-default modes left out the last modified data. That impacts either of these options:

public void bulk_inserts(IDocumentStore store, Target[] documents)
    store.BulkInsert(documents, BulkInsertMode.IgnoreDuplicates);

    // or

    store.BulkInsert(documents, BulkInsertMode.OverwriteExisting);

To make it easier to migrate data in documents that uses a Hilo sequence for identity assignment, we added a convenience method to establish a new “floor” in the sequence to avoid conflicting with the existing data being brought over from a new system.

public void reset_hilo(IDocumentStore store)
    // This resets the Hilo state in the database
    // for the IntDoc document type so that
    // all id's assigned will be greater than the floor
    // value.

Do note that it’s possible and even likely that there will be gaps in the id sequence in the database when you do this.