Use Write Caching to Optimize High Volume Data Driven Applications
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by Steven Smith
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Scheduling Asynchronous, Periodic Updates

The System.Threading.Timer class provides the functionality we need to periodically perform our write operation.  Essentially what we want to do is create a timer when the logging begins and specify a period of time and a method to call using a delegate, or callback, called TimerCallback.  The period determines how often the method will be called. 

For my implementation, I’m using a static class, which is simply a class with no instance fields and a private constructor (so it cannot be instantiated).  I’ve specified a static constructor, which is the ideal place to initiate the timer and set other configuration settings.  Another option would be to use a Singleton pattern, and place the startup code in the class’s default constructor.

Figure 9 shows my static constructor.  There are a few configuration items that determine whether or not batch updates are enabled and, if so, how frequently they are performed.  The last two lines create the timer that links to the Persist method.  Figure 10 shows this method, which extracts the XML from the ActivityCollection, clears it, and sends it to the stored procedure (Figure 8) by way of a data access layer method (not shown).

Figure 9: ActivityLogger Static Constructor

static ActivityLogger()
 activityCollection = new FeaturedItemActivityCollection(100);
  int persistDataPeriod = 10;
AppSettings["FeaturedItemPersistPeriodSeconds"] != null)
  persistDataPeriod = int.Parse(
 if(ConfigurationSettings.AppSettings["EnableBatchUpdates"] != null)
  EnableBatchUpdates = bool.Parse(
  TimerCallback callback = new TimerCallback(Persist);
  timer = new Timer(callback, null, 
new TimeSpan(0,0,0,persistDataPeriod),
new TimeSpan(0, 0, 0, persistDataPeriod));


Figure 10: Persist Method—Responsible for Performing Batch Update

private static void Persist(object state)
 if(activityCollection.Count > 0)
  string xmlData = "";
   xmlData = activityCollection.ToString();
// persist impressions

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User Comments

Title: Modern SQL XML Support   
Name: Steve Smith
Date: 2008-08-08 2:33:41 PM
Jason Follas posted recently on how to do the SQL XML work more efficiently in SQL 2005+:
Title: MSMQ   
Name: Derek
Date: 2008-01-14 9:37:07 AM
Thanks for the article. Having some experience with MSMQ I can tell you it will probably perform well, but we've had a lot of issues with using it in a clustered environment. This is a well-known shortcoming of MSMQ.

We've gone to some 3rd party pub-sub solutions that work much more efficiently and work well in a clustered environment.
Title: Using a synchronized HashTable   
Name: Tim
Date: 2005-08-22 1:41:25 PM
Also, how would this be affected by using Hashtable.Synchronized(...) to create the hashtable. It appears that automatically protects the hashtable's Add method and the indexing property Set accessor with a lock, which would protect you during writes.
Title: What about the code for updating the item in Cache?   
Name: Tim
Date: 2005-08-22 12:08:14 PM
Can you show sample code for updating the item in Cache? For example, if item is added to cache with certain expiration, etc., when you update it, do you have to add it back with the same parameters, or do you just reference it like Cache[myitem] = updatedValue, and it will retain all previously set values...

Title: Programmer   
Name: Microfolx
Date: 2005-05-21 10:33:19 AM
This is a very nice site. Keep it up.
Title: Re: Consistency   
Name: Brett
Date: 2005-05-20 5:15:54 PM
Nice article... I might consider trying normal XML writers rather than StringBuilder. Or even XML serialization. Probably slightly slower, but reduces errors.

On the point regarding charging for page views. I have two suggestions. One is to periodically reload the current click count from the database and not worry about being exact. Hey if they get 1 million or 1,005,000, does it really matter? This isn't the space shuttle. The second would be to switch to a non-caching code path when you get close to whatever your maximum value is. So when you hit, say 990,000 views (based on your hit rate, etc.) then switch to the non-caching version for that customer.
Title: Consistency   
Name: Brian
Date: 2005-05-20 2:03:29 PM
I had to accomplish this exact same scenario. The problem I ran into was the caching. Lets say that one of your advertisers pays you to show their ad 1 million times. How can you insure that it doesn’t go over? If you are holding the most current counters in cache, won’t each process be looking at their own cache, not to mention each server in the web farm and all it’s processes be looking at their own cache.

Another general Cache question. When I write something to cache, isn’t it only available for that particular process? So if you setup your application to have 5 worker processes, won’t that have 5 separate cache entries?
Title: web farm   
Name: parker
Date: 2005-04-24 3:19:08 AM
How do you account for disperate sessions in a web farm scenario? Is the cache shared amoung the servers?
Title: Too Good   
Name: Zulfiqar Damani
Date: 2005-04-18 12:46:36 AM
It presented very well, also it was interesting too.
Title: Thanks   
Name: Happel
Date: 2005-04-14 8:23:23 AM
Thanks for sharing this article, very interesting.

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