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    rowcol.js - Row/Column Data Manipulation

    While JSON arrays of objects are very familiar for representing collections of data and map nicely to row-based storage in databases, they are inefficient for transmission, storage, and filtering. "Rows" are good for interacting with a specific record, but not for finding that record.

    rowcol.js provides tools for converting between rows and columns and interacting with columnar data.

    Performance Comparisons

    • Single Column Filter — For simple single-column comparisons, rowcol is up to 3.8x faster. With time, this performance has changed. As of December 27, 2015, rowcol was slower in Chrome and Firefox, while Safari was faster. As of March 15, 2016, it is >2x faster in Chrome and Safari and a third slower in Firefox.
    • Simple Equivalence Filter — Simple equivalence is an order of magnitude faster than native row filtering, across Chrome, Firefox, and Safari as of March 15, 2016.
    • More to come.

    Problems with Rows

    • Each JSON row includes a header (the key in a key-value pair) for each record. For heterogeneous data, rearranging this into columns removes the weight of the header during transmission. Rows with optional keys add undefined values, but may still be smaller depending on column counts and names.
    • Many data filters are applied to columns (price > 50.00 or active == true), requiring incrementing across all objects even though you only want one particular attribute.

    Benefits of Columns

    • Heterogeneous data is transmitted in a more compact format. Two real-world test objects with complex, multi-level data saw substantial reductions (row/column rotation was performed on multiple levels):
    • 10936 became 7117 characters for a ~35% reduction.
    • 123903 became 90892 characters for a ~27% reduction.
    • Need to add Synthetic tests with looping and rotation performance examples.
    • Filters return arrays of indexes for easy set manipulation (union, intersection, difference). In fairness you could do this with rows, but it is a requirement of column-oriented filtering
    • Some column filters can be performed with simple comparisons: no filter function overhead.

    Problems with Columns

    • There is no native column-based filtering.
    • Columns are inconvenient for interacting with a single record (row).
    • Lack of 3rd-party library support for columns.

    RowCol Solutions


    The simple column-based filter supports strict comparison intended for primitive types or a filter function. For all filter actions, the original object is not modified, but complex data types are referenced. Filters are broken into three functions:

    • rowcol.object.filter(obj, field, filter) - Basic filter action returns a result set based on a field name and a filter.
    • rowcol.object.filterIndexes(obj, field, filter) - Takes the same arguments as rowcol.object.filter but returns the indexes of the filter action. This is useful for more complex set manipulation.
    • rowcol.object.filterMerge(obj, indexes) - Allows a filter action with an external source of indexes.


    Extracting a row for viewing and interaction is convenient, but changes to primitive types on the "view" object will not be reflected on the original column-based store. Proxy objects add .commit() and .finalize() to update the source columns and keep your data consistent. Proxy stores copies and/or references of the information passed when a proxy is created, so you must use the .destroy() or .finalize() method to avoid memory leaks.


    RowCol provides rowcol.rotate to convert arrays of objects (rows) and objects of arrays (columns) back and forth. This allows the compact transmission of columns while existing row-based code. Performance testing is recommended if you are rotating large datasets.

    RC Chaining

    An object can be made into an RC object to support chaining of the following methods:

    • filter - Calls rowcol.object.filter and provides the result in an RC object for continued chaining.
    • proxy - Calls rowcol.object.proxy and returns a Proxy object. Ends the chain.
    • rotate - Call rowcol.object.rotate, converting a column-based object of arrays into a row-based array of objects. Ends the chain.




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