Thought Palace on Twitter’s Problem – Scrap the SQL

April 19, 2007

Twitter, Rails, Hammers, and 11,000 Nails per Second — Thought Palace

Now, a more sane way to do this (if I may be so bold) is to keep a message queue for every member, and whenever someone posts a new message, copy a pointer to that message into the queue of every member who’s subscribed. Then when someone polls, you just have to get the messages out of their queue and send them along. If that sounds kind of familiar, it’s because that’s exactly how email works — the Twitter posting interface is like a listserv, and the polling interface is like a POP server.

In some moods (the same sorts of moods where I fantasize about how $5-per-gallon gas would kick-start desperately needed changes in our transportation system) I think about what would happen if all the DNS servers mysteriously vanished, all the data centers blew up, and we had to re-implement everything in a distributed peer-to-peer fashion. It’s actually really interesting …

As usual, the comments are as worthy of reading as the article.


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