RTF RTF - 1 year ago 39
Ruby Question

How to detect if SimpleDB domain contains the requested item?

The AWS SimpleDB documentation for the Ruby SDK provides the following example with regard to using the


resp = client.get_attributes({
domain_name: "String", # required
item_name: "String", # required
attribute_names: ["String"],
consistent_read: false,

...and then the following example response:

resp.attributes #=> Array
resp.attributes[0].name #=> String
resp.attributes[0].alternate_name_encoding #=> String
resp.attributes[0].value #=> String
resp.attributes[0].alternate_value_encoding #=> String

It also states the following piece of advice:

If the item does not exist on the replica that was accessed for this operation, an empty set is returned. The system does not return an error as it cannot guarantee the item does not exist on other replicas.

I hope that I'm misunderstanding this, but if your response does return an empty set, then how are you supposed to know if it's because no item exists with the supplied item name, or if your request just hit a replica that doesn't contain your item?

Answer Source

I have never used AWS SimpleDB before but from the little knowledge I have about replication from Amazon's DynamoDB the data is usually eventually consistent - while any of the replicas handles your request to read the attributes, the process of replication the previously written data can still take place across the replicas responsible for storing your data and that's why it's possible that the replica handling your request to read the attributes does not have to have the data stored (yet) - that's why it cannot respond with an error message.

What you should be able to do in order to be 100% sure is to specify the consistent_read: true parameter as it should tell you whether the data exists in AWS SimpleDB or not:

according to the documentation of get_attributes method

:consistent_read (Boolean) —

Determines whether or not strong consistency should be enforced when data is read from SimpleDB. If true, any data previously written to SimpleDB will be returned. Otherwise, results will be consistent eventually, and the client may not see data that was written immediately before your read.