Oracle previews MySQL 5.6

The next version of MySQL will offer better replication and a sneak preview of NoSQL-like fast accessibility

Offering a glimpse of the new features some database administrators will be working with before too long, Oracle has posted a preview version of the next MySQL relational database management system.

The Development Milestone Release (DMR) for MySQL 5.6 comes with a number of new and still experimental features for the open source database system, including improved replication and the ability to bypass the SQL framework for faster data access.

As part of the open source LAMP stack -- which also includes Linux, Apache and Perl, Python and PHP -- MySQL is widely used in Web applications. Large, popular sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Flickr use MySQL.

With this pending version of MySQL 5.6, Oracle and outside developers have strengthened the way the software handles data replication, as well as potentially shortening the software's response times to complex queries.

In regards to replication, MySQL introduces Global Transactions Identifiers (GTIDs), which assure the system can track data as it is replicated across different servers. GTIDs will ease the process of automatically switching to a duplicate server should the original fail. Third-party software now offers this capability, but this will be the first time MySQL itself can do the job.

MySQL 5.6 offers a number of new features that should speed queries. It can now consolidate multiple queries or result sets into a single unit of work. It can assign the current date and time as the default for DATETIME columns, eliminating the need for the application to do that work itself. The software can also speed query time by determining the best order of execution for Filesort and ORDER BY queries.

Another new benefit for developers: MySQL can also deliver query results in the popular JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) format, useful for integrating data to Web applications.

In addition to these new features, which will be ready for production duty with the full release of MySQL 5.6, the software also includes some experimental features that may appear in future versions of the software, courtesy of Oracle's MySQL Labs. Developers can test them now to see how well they work.

Perhaps the most notable feature is an API (application programming interface) that allows applications to directly access data from the core InnoDB database engine, rather than going through the SQL-based interface. The API replicates the interface of the open source memcache caching technology used by Facebook and others for speedy access to large amounts of data.

Such an API may bring MySQL on par with the easy accessibility offered by NoSQL databases currently gaining favor in Web applications, said Tomas Ulin, Oracle vice president of MySQL engineering,in an interview last year.

Another experimental improvement aimed at making MySQL more suitable for NoSQL database duties is a new set of ADD operations that allow an application to write data to the database without blocking other operations from accessing the database index when adding their own data. Such a feature could be beneficial for the operations of rapidly evolving Web services, according to Oracle.

Oracle did not reveal when it expects to release the final version of MySQL 5.6 The last major upgrade, version 5.5, was released in December 2010.

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