Sunday, August 29, 2010

JDBC Connectivity to Hypertable!

Hypertable ( is an implementation of the Google's BigTable which in short is a scalable, distributed sorted hashtable allowing for the storage of massive amounts of data across a cluster of commodity hardware. Hypertable has a rich query language (HQL) and a command line client akin to MySql's command line client; however, this can be limiting.

This article will cover two things:
1) JDBC Connectivity to Hypertable
2) Usage of this driver to graphically browse and modify a Hypertable instance

JDBC Driver

Hypertable uses the Thrift protocol to remotely connect and query an instance. This is a very useful method of reading/writing data but it's not standard and can be difficult to develop applications using Hypertable. For Ruby developers, there is a package called HyperRecord which provides an ActiveRecord like interface to Hypertable which makes integrating Hypertable into a Ruby (on Rails) application much easier. For Java, I recently released a JDBC driver that communicates through Thrift to Hypertable which now allows you to integrate Hypertable into a Java application via JDBC. One such application is integration with a graphical browser which was the motivation behind writing this driver.

Driver Limitations:
  1. Only the latest timestamped version data is returned.
  2. When retrieving metadata objects (ResultSet or Database), only the column families defined in the schema will be returned. In other words, column family qualifiers aren't going to be shown in the metadata objects although their value can be retrieved in code. Example: In code, you can do rs.getString("address:home") and rs.getString("address:work") while the metadata will only show "address" as a valid column name with no value unless 'address' explicitly has a value in the given table.
You can download the driver at Simply add all the jars to your classpath and use the driver "org.hokiesuns.hypertable.jdbc.HTDriver". An example URL is "jdbc:hypertable://" with no username, password or schema. An example application can be found by executing org.hokiesuns.hypertable.HypertableJDBCTester passing in the ThriftBroker hostname/ip as the command line argument.

Graphical Browser

The motivation behind writing this driver was to be able to view data in Hypertable using a graphical browser instead of the command line. There are numerous java based graphical browsers and the one that I tested with was SQLWorkBench/J ( Rather than providing screenshots with explanations, I have created a video that should help show this driver in action and how easy it is to start talking to Hypertable using a third party graphical interface!


Along with integration for graphical browsing of Hypertable data, I believe that releasing a JDBC driver to Hypertable will help make its use more widespread and make it easier to plug this great technology into the vast Java application landscape. If you see any bugs, please file a bug report along with all the necessary information at