For those who are working with Android API:
Locking in SQLite is done on the file level which guarantees locking of changes from different threads and connections. Thus multiple threads can read the database however one can only write to it.
More on locking in SQLite can be read at SQLite documentation but we are most interested in the API provided by OS Android.
Writing with two concurrent threads can be made both from a single and from multiple database connections. Since only one thread can write to the database then there are two variants:
- If you write from two threads of one connection then one thread will await on the other to finish writing.
- If you write from two threads of different connections then an error will be – all of your data will not be written to the database and the application will be interrupted with SQLiteDatabaseLockedException. It becomes evident that the application should always have only one copy of SQLiteOpenHelper(just an open connection) otherwise SQLiteDatabaseLockedException can occur at any moment.
Different Connections At a Single SQLiteOpenHelper
Everyone is aware that SQLiteOpenHelper has 2 methods providing access to the database getReadableDatabase() and getWritableDatabase(), to read and write data respectively. However in most cases there is one real connection. Moreover it is one and the same object:
It means that there is no difference in use of the methods the data is read from. However there is another undocumented issue which is more important – inside of the class SQLiteDatabase there are own locks – the variable mLock. Locks for writing at the level of the object SQLiteDatabase and since there is only one copy of SQLiteDatabase for read and write then data read is also blocked. It is more prominently visible when writing a large volume of data in a transaction.
Let’s consider an example of such an application that should download a large volume of data (approx. 7000 lines containing BLOB) in the background on first launch and save it to the database. If the data is saved inside the transaction then saving takes approx. 45 seconds but the user can not use the application since any of the reading queries are blocked. If the data is saved in small portions then the update process is dragging out for a rather lengthy period of time (10-15 minutes) but the user can use the application without any restrictions and inconvenience. “The double edge sword” – either fast or convenient.
Google has already fixed a part of issues related to SQLiteDatabase functionality as the following methods have been added:
beginTransactionNonExclusive() – creates a transaction in the “IMMEDIATE mode”.
yieldIfContendedSafely() – temporary seizes the transaction in order to allow completion of tasks by other threads.
isDatabaseIntegrityOk() – checks for database integrity
Please read in more details in the documentation.
However for the older versions of Android this functionality is required as well.
First locking should be turned off and allow reading the data in any situation.
cancels using internal query locking – on the logic level of the java class (not related to locking in terms of SQLite)
SQLiteDatabase.execSQL(“PRAGMA read_uncommitted = true;”);
Allows reading data from cache. In fact, changes the level of isolation. This parameter should be set for each connection anew. If there are a number of connections then it influences only the connection that calls for this command.
Change the writing method to the database – without “synchronization”. When activating this option the database can be damaged if the system unexpectedly fails or power supply is off. However according to the SQLite documentation some operations are executed 50 times faster if the option is not activated.
Unfortunately not all of PRAGMA is supported in Android e.g. “PRAGMA locking_mode = NORMAL” and “PRAGMA journal_mode = OFF” and some others are not supported. At the attempt to call PRAGMA data the application fails.
In the documentation for the method setLockingEnabled it is said that this method is recommended for using only in the case if you are sure that all the work with the database is done from a single thread. We should guarantee than at a time only one transaction is held. Also instead of the default transactions (exclusive transaction) the immediate transaction should be used. In the older versions of Android (below API 11) there is no option to create the immediate transaction thru the java wrapper however SQLite supports this functionality. To initialize a transaction in the immediate mode the following SQLite query should be executed directly to the database, – for example thru the method execSQL:
SQLiteDatabase.execSQL(“begin immediate transaction”);
Since the transaction is initialized by the direct query then it should be finished the same way:
Then TransactionManager is the only thing left to be implemented which will initiate and finish transactions of the required type. The purpose of TransactionManager – is to guarantee that all of the queries for changes (insert, update, delete, DDL queries) originate from the same thread.
Hope this helps the future visitors!!!