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Logical (row-based) log replication

An alternative is to use different log formats for replication and for the storage engine, which allows the replication log to be decoupled from the storage engine internals. This kind of replication log is called a logical log, to distinguish it from the storage engine’s (physical) data representation.

A logical log for a relational database is usually a sequence of records describing writes to database tables at the granularity of a row:

  • • For an inserted row, the log contains the new values of all columns.
  • • For a deleted row, the log contains enough information to uniquely identify the row that was deleted. Typically this would be the primary key, but if there is no primary key on the table, the old values of all columns need to be logged.
  • • For an updated row, the log contains enough information to uniquely identify the updated row, and the new values of all columns (or at least the new values of all columns that changed).

A transaction that modifies several rows generates several such log records, followed by a record indicating that the transaction was committed. MySQL’s binlog (when configured to use row-based replication) uses this approach [17].

Since a logical log is decoupled from the storage engine internals, it can more easily be kept backward compatible, allowing the leader and the follower to run different versions of the database software, or even different storage engines.

A logical log format is also easier for external applications to parse. This aspect is useful if you want to send the contents of a database to an external system, such as a data warehouse for offline analysis, or for building custom indexes and caches [18]. This technique is called change data capture, and we will return to it in Chapter 11.

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