MySql DataTime/TimeStamp fields and Scala

In one of my work projects we use Play Framework on Scala to provide an API (how surprising ;-). For quite some time I was hunting after lots of milliseconds, time the API answer was just terrible late compared to hammering directly at the MySql server. It turned out to be a problem of interaction between MySql DateTime format and Scala.

It sounded like to nice an idea to save our traffic data in a MySql database with the timestamp saved in a DateTime or Timestamp column. Display in the Mysql Workbench looks nice and easily readable. But somehow our API server’s response was horribly slow, especially when there were several requests. Hours and hours of tuning of SQL code, trying to turning of sorting, adding extra indices, nothing of all that to any avail.

The solution was rather trivial, the actual time lost is not in the SQL part, nor in the processing in our Scala code, but in the conversion from MySql DateTime/Timestamp object to Scala/Java Timestamp. We are using ActiveRecord for Scala, a very nice and convenient library, which converts MySql DateTime/Timestamps to Scala/Java Timestamps. But this conversion seems, especially for a large number of entries, to become rather slow. With months of traffic data and hundreds of thousands of timestamps to convert, the API collapsed to unacceptable response times.

Converting the whole pipeline (from data producer to database and api) to use plain simple Long boosted the API performance considerably. Lesson learned, don’t use MySql DateTime/Timestamp if you need lots of conversions.

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