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Docker PostgreSQL Foreign Data Wrapper


Paul Tagliamonte

For the tl;dr: Docker FDW is a thing. Star it, hack it, try it out. File bugs, be happy. If you want to see what it's like to read, there's some example SQL down below.

The question is first, what the heck is a PostgreSQL Foreign Data Wrapper? PostgreSQL Foreign Data Wrappers are plugins that allow C libraries to provide an adaptor for PostgreSQL to talk to an external database.

Some folks have used this to wrap stuff like MongoDB, which I always found to be hilarous (and an epic hack).

Enter Multicorn

During my time at PyGotham, I saw a talk from Wes Chow about something called Multicorn. He was showing off some really neat plugins, such as the git revision history of CPython, and parsed logfiles from some stuff over at Chartbeat. This basically blew my mind.

All throughout the talk I was coming up with all sorts of things that I wanted to do -- this whole library is basically exactly what I've been dreaming about for years. I've always wanted to provide a SQL-like interface into querying API data, joining data cross-API using common crosswalks, such as using Capitol Words to query for Legislators, and use the bioguide ids to JOIN against the congress api to get their Twitter account names.

My first shot was to Multicorn the new Open Civic Data API I was working on, chuckled and put it aside as a really awesome hack.

Enter Docker

It wasn't until tianon connected the dots for me and suggested a Docker FDW did I get really excited. Cue a few hours of hacking, and I'm proud to say -- here's Docker FDW.

This lets us ask all sorts of really interesting questions out of the API, and might even help folks writing webapps avoid adding too much Docker-aware logic. Abstractions can be fun!

Setting it up

I'm going to assume you have a working Multicorn, PostgreSQL and Docker setup (including adding the postgres user to the docker group)

So, now let's pop open a psql session. Create a database (I called mine dockerfdw, but it can be anything), and let's create some tables.

Before we create the tables, we need to let PostgreSQL know where our objects are. This takes a name for the server, and the Python importable path to our FDW.

CREATE SERVER docker_containers FOREIGN DATA WRAPPER multicorn options (
    wrapper 'dockerfdw.wrappers.containers.ContainerFdw');

CREATE SERVER docker_image FOREIGN DATA WRAPPER multicorn options (
    wrapper 'dockerfdw.wrappers.images.ImageFdw');

Now that we have the server in place, we can tell PostgreSQL to create a table backed by the FDW by creating a foreign table. I won't go too much into the syntax here, but you might also note that we pass in some options - these are passed to the constructor of the FDW, letting us set stuff like the Docker host.

CREATE foreign table docker_containers (
    "id"          TEXT,
    "image"       TEXT,
    "name"        TEXT,
    "names"       TEXT[],
    "privileged"  BOOLEAN,
    "ip"          TEXT,
    "bridge"      TEXT,
    "running"     BOOLEAN,
    "pid"         INT,
    "exit_code"   INT,
    "command"     TEXT[]
) server docker_containers options (
    host 'unix:///run/docker.sock'

CREATE foreign table docker_images (
    "id"              TEXT,
    "architecture"    TEXT,
    "author"          TEXT,
    "comment"         TEXT,
    "parent"          TEXT,
    "tags"            TEXT[]
) server docker_image options (
    host 'unix:///run/docker.sock'

And, now that we have tables in place, we can try to learn something about the Docker containers. Let's start with something fun - a join from containers to images, showing all image tag names, the container names and the ip of the container (if it has one!).

SELECT docker_containers.ip, docker_containers.names, docker_images.tags
  FROM docker_containers
  RIGHT JOIN docker_images
  ON docker_containers.image=docker_images.id;
     ip      |            names            |                  tags                   
             |                             | {ruby:latest}
             |                             | {paultag/vcs-mirror:latest}
             | {/de-openstates-to-ocd}     | {sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest}
             | {/ny-openstates-to-ocd}     | {sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest}
             | {/ar-openstates-to-ocd}     | {sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest} | {/ms-openstates-to-ocd}     | {sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest} | {/nc-openstates-to-ocd}     | {sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest}
             | {/ia-openstates-to-ocd}     | {sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest}
             | {/az-openstates-to-ocd}     | {sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest}
             | {/oh-openstates-to-ocd}     | {sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest}
             | {/va-openstates-to-ocd}     | {sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest} | {/wa-openstates-to-ocd}     | {sunlightlabs/scrapers-us-state:latest}
             | {/jovial_poincare}          | {<none>:<none>}
             | {/jolly_goldstine}          | {<none>:<none>}
             | {/cranky_torvalds}          | {<none>:<none>}
             | {/backstabbing_wilson}      | {<none>:<none>}
             | {/desperate_hoover}         | {<none>:<none>}
             | {/backstabbing_ardinghelli} | {<none>:<none>}
             | {/cocky_feynman}            | {<none>:<none>}
             |                             | {paultag/postgres:latest}
             |                             | {debian:testing}
             |                             | {paultag/crank:latest}
             |                             | {<none>:<none>}
             |                             | {<none>:<none>}
             | {/stupefied_fermat}         | {hackerschool/doorbot:latest}
             | {/focused_euclid}           | {debian:unstable}
             | {/focused_babbage}          | {debian:unstable}
             | {/clever_torvalds}          | {debian:unstable}
             | {/stoic_tesla}              | {debian:unstable}
             | {/evil_torvalds}            | {debian:unstable}
             | {/foo}                      | {debian:unstable}
(31 rows)

OK, let's see if we can bring this to the next level now. I finally got around to implementing INSERT and DELETE operations, which turned out to be pretty simple to do. Check this out:

DELETE FROM docker_containers;

This will do a stop + kill after a 10 second hang behind the scenes. It's actually a lot of fun to spawn up a container and terminate it from PostgreSQL.

INSERT INTO docker_containers (name, image) VALUES ('hello', 'debian:unstable') RETURNING id;

(1 row)

Spawning containers works too - this is still very immature and not super practical, but I figure while I'm showing off, I might as well go all the way.

SELECT ip FROM docker_containers WHERE id='0a903dcf5ae10ee1923064e25ab0f46e0debd513f54860beb44b2a187643ff05';
(1 row)

Success! This is just a taste of what's to come, so please feel free to hack on Docker FDW, tweet me @paultag, file bugs / feature requests. It's currently a bit of a hack, and it's something that I think has long-term potential after some work goes into making sure that this is a rock solid interface to the Docker API.