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Lightweighted frontend to the DBCacheContrib to query cached TWiki content


This is a lightweighted frontend to the DBCacheContrib. The provided tags DBQUERY and DBCALL can be used as a replacement for SEARCH and INCLUDE that use the database store instead of searching and extracting on the raw topic files.

DBQUERY is provided to ease the use of TWikiApplications based on the DBCacheContrib combining its flexible query language with unrestricted formatting and an extend mechanism to extract topic properties.

DBCALL is named "call" and not "include" as its main purpose is to ease TWikiApplications where TopicFunctions are treated as stored procedures. It fetches pre-compiled topics or sections of it. "Glue" chars (see TWiki:Plugins:GluePlugin) are applied in advance so that the actual rendering time is minimized. DBCALL does therefore not allow to call "external" pages as INCLUDE allows. DBCALL's "warn" parameter can only be set to "on" and "off" and does not allow alternative content in case of a warning. The "pattern" feature used to extract a fragment from an INCLUDEd text using regular expression has been dropped. That aside, DBCALLs can be called recursively as INCLUDEs can, parametrized using key-value arguments and obeys to %STARTINCLUDE%, %STOPINCLUDE%, %STARTSECTION{"..."}% and %ENDSECTION{"..."}%.

Using the DBCacheContrib topic sections are stored into the topic object of the database. The section between %STARTINCLUDE% ... %STOPINCLUDE% is called _sectiondefault whereas all sections between %STARTSECTION{"<name>"}% .... %ENDSECTION{"<name>"}% are called _section<name> and are stored accordingly.

In addition, DBCALL implements so called TopicMethods. A method call is of the form %DBCALL{"SomeTopic->RenderMethod" ...}% and will infer the actual ...RenderMethod to be called on the base of the TopicType of SomeTopic. TopicTypes are a concept introduced by the TWiki:Plugins/TWikiWorkbenchAddOn. It basically refers to a convention to tag the type(s) of a topic in a formfield "TopicType". The lookup mechanism for TopicMethods proceeds as normal if the DBCALl is not of the form "SomeTopic->RenderMethod". For example, if SomeTopic is of type Video, MediaType, ClassifiedTopic the lookup mechanism will try to find the methods VideoRenderMethod, MediaTypeRenderMethod and ClassifiedTopicRenderMethod in the given order and use the one found first. The web these types are defined in is infered on the base of the TWikiForm definitions of each of these types. If none of these type-specific methods is found the method call will fallback to a normal non-specific function call. The TopicMethod itself is called with an implicit parameter OBJECT that refers to SomeTopic, that is the object this method has been called for.

ATTACHMENTS lists the attachments of a given topic giving you a high degree of control about what and how to display attachments.

DBRECURSE itterates over topics in a web following a certain topic-to-topic relation, like the partent-child relation among topics. You can define arbitrary relations using filters.



List all attachments of a given topic. Without any parameters it displays a table of attachments similar to the one generated by the TWiki templates at the bottom of a topic. There are a couple of parameters that take regular expressions to limit the number of attachments to be listed.


"<topic>" topic whos attachments we want to query
attr="..." match the attachments' attribute
autoattached="yes,no,undef" limit attachments to those that are (not) autoattached
comment="..." match the attachments' comment
maxdate="..." specify latest attachment
maxsize="..." specify biggest attachment
mindate="..." specify earliest attachment
minsize="..." specify smalles attachment
names="..." match the name of attachments to be include in the list
user="..." match the attachments' user who uploaded it
footer="..." format string appended to the result
format="..." how to format each attachment
header="..." format string prefixing the resulting output
separator="..." format string put between each formatted attachment
hidenull="on,off" hide/display the empty result; only the header and the footer are included of set to "off" and there's no attachment at the given topic
sort="name,date,size,user" sortion of result

The following variables can be used in the format parameter:

  • $attr: the attributes
  • $autoattached: the autoattach flag
  • $comment: the comment field
  • $date(<format>): the attachment date using <format> to format the date
  • $date: the attachment date
  • $delete: the action to delete the current attachment
  • $deleteUrl: the url used in the delete action
  • $icon: img tag representing the filetype
  • $iconUrl: the url pointing to the icon used in the img tag
  • $index: the position index of the attachment in the result
  • $move: the action to move the current attachment
  • $moveUrl: the url used in the move action
  • $name: the name of the attachment
  • $path: the path property of the attachment
  • $props: the action to change the properties of the current attachment
  • $propsUrl: the url used in the props action
  • $size: the size in bytes
  • $sizeK: the size in kilo bytes
  • $sizeM: the size in mega bytes
  • $topic: the name of the topic of whose attachments are listed
  • $type: the file type of the current attachment
  • $url: the attachments url
  • $urlpath: the attachments urlpath
  • $user: the user that uploaded the attachment
  • $web: the web name of the current topic
  • $webdav: the action to edit the current attachment using the TWiki:Plugins/WebDavPlugin
  • $webdavUrl: the url used in the webdav action
  • $wikiuser: the user's home topic that recently changed the current attachment

The header and footer format strings may only contain

  • $count: the number of attachments found

The format, header and footer may contain the standard escape sequences:

  • $dollar: $ sign
  • $n: newline
  • $percnt: % sign


Fetch topic content or a section of it from the database store.


%DBCALL{"<topic" ... }%
"<topic>" topic that we'd like to call
section="..." optional named section; without this parameter the "default" section is used
<key>="<value>" topic arguments to be substituted within the included text; that is every occurence of <key> is substituted with <value>
warn="on,off" enable/suppress error warnings
remote="on,off" switch fixing WikiWords in transcluded content; on means "don't touch, this is remote content" defaults to "off" because that's the default behavior of =%INCLUDE{}% (note, DBQUERY defaults to "on" aka do-not-touch-mode)


Display the database record of a topic (usefull for debugging).


%DBDUMP{"<topic>" ... }%
"<topic>" topic that we'd like to debug
web="..." name of the web to look for the given topic; note that you can use the dot-notation in specifying the web.topic also


DBQUERY can be used in either of two modes (a) as a pure search tool or (b) as a tool to extract properties of (a set of) known topics.


%DBQUERY{"<search>" ... }%
"<search>" search clause, see documentation of the DBCacheContrib (mode (a))
topics="..." or topic="..." set of topics to consult (mode (b)); if "topics" are specified in addition to a "search" it will be restricted to the given topics
web="..." web where to search for hits; defaults to the current one
format="..." format string to display search hits; defaults to "$topic"; the special format string "none" disables the format string
header="..." format string to prepended to the list of hits
footer="..." format string to appended to the list of hits
separator="..." format string used to separate hits; defaults to "$n"; the special separator "none" disables separation
include="..." pattern each found topic name must match to be considered a hit
exclude="..." pattern each found topic name must not match to be considered a hit
sort="..." specifies the sorting of hits; defaults to "name"
reverse="..." specify if hits should be sorted in reverse order; defaults to "off"
limit="..." maximum number of topics to include in the hit set
skip="..." number of topics to skip while constructing the hit set; defaults to "0"
hidenull="..." flag to indicate that an empty hit set should not be displayed
remote="on,off" switch fixing WikiWords in transcluded content; on means "don't touch, this is remote content" defaults to "on"

Following variables are expanded in format strings:

  • $percnt: % sign
  • $dollar: $ sign
  • $n: newline
  • $nop: "empty string"
  • $count: the number of hits
  • $index: the current row index in the search
  • $web: the web where the hits where found
  • $formfield(<formfield-name>): the value of the given formfield
  • $formatTime(<formfield-accessor> [,<format>]): format the datefield pointed to by the <formfield-accessor> using the given <format>; the format can be in any form supported by TWiki::Func::formatTime() (see GMTIME documentation).
  • $expand(<formfield-accessor>): return the formfield pointed to by the <formfield-accessor>
  • $rss(...): encode entities so that the text can be included in an rss feed
  • $encode(...): encode entities so that the text can be included in HTML input form elements
  • $flatten(...): remove any special markup producing a flattened text representation
  • $trunc(...,length): truncate a string to the given length

Formfield accessors:

In its most basic form $expand(Ref) is identical to $formfield(Ref). In addition $expand() can be used to refer to topic properties of related topics that can be reached from the current one using the '@' symbol. For example, if a topic A uses a form that contains a field named "Ref" and specifies a reference to another topic B (by using its name) you can access the "Headline" in B from A using $expand(@Ref.Headline).

A formfield accessor can be a composed one using 'or' and 'and'. Example: $expand(Name or Author) will expand to the value of the formfield "Name" if it exists and is non-empty and to the value of the formfield "Author" otherwise. More valid examples:

  • $expand(@Ref.Headline): headline of the refered topic
  • $expand(Nr and '.'): append a dot to the formfield value "Nr" if it exists
  • $expand(Name or Author): expand to "Name" or "Author"

A formfield accessor can be computed using TWikiMarkup. If the string starts with '%', it is expanded and its result is taken as the real formfield accessor. This is useful when the name of the formfield must be computed by different means.


Traverse topic-to-topic relations, like the intrinsic parent-child relation


%DBRECURSE{"<topic>" ...}%
"<topic>" starting point, can be in web.topic format, defaults to the current topic
web="..." web where to recurse, defaults to the web given in the topic parameter or the current web
format="..." format string for each found topic defaults to '   $indent* [[$web.$topic][$topic]]'
single="..." format string used when only one topic is found, defaults to value of format parameter
separator="..." separator string to be put between formatted topics, defaults to '\n'
header="..." format string to be prepended to the output, empty by default
subheader="..." format string to be prepended to each subordinated search, defaults to header parameter
singleheader="..." format string to be used when only one topic is found
footer="..." format string to be appended to the output
subfooter="..." format string to be appended to each subordinated search, defaults to footer parameter
singlefooter="..." format string to be used when only one topic is found
hidenull="..." flag to indicate that an empty hit set should not be displayed
filter="..." search expression that is used in earch recursion step; the current topic name is inserted into the filter expression by replacing the '$ref' string; the default filter is 'parent='$name'; this will search for topics of which the current topic is a parent
sort="..." determines the sortion of topics in each itteration step
reverse="on,off" reverse sorting order
limit="..." maximum itterations, default is 0 (unlimitted)
skip="..." skips the first n hits when formatting the output, defaults to 0 (no skip)
depth="..." only recurse to a given depth, defaults to 0 (unlimitted)
include="..." regular expression topics must match to be included in the search
exclude="..." regular expression that excludes matching topics from the search

The ...format, ...header and ...footer format strings may contain the following variables:

  • $web: the current web
  • $topic: the current topic in the search
  • $index: the topic index number in one recursion step, that is an enumeration in each recursion step
  • $number: the "paragraph" number in the recursion, e.g. depicts the path alternative in the recursion tree
  • $count: number of found topics; this is the total number of found topics in the header and footer and the number of topics found so far during recursion
  • $indent: 3 spaces per depth
  • $indent(<string>): uses <string> for indenting the result in each depth
  • $formfield(...): see #DBQUERY
  • $expand(...): see #DBQUERY
  • $formatTime(...): see #DBQUERY

All format strings may contain the following variables:

  • $dollar: $ sign
  • $n: newline
  • $percnt: % sign


%DBRECURSE{"TWikiFAQ"}% lists all TWikiFAQs (with properly set topic parent) %DBRECURSE{"TWikiFAQ"}%


Compute and format a statistics on the database.


%DBSTATS{"<search>" ...}%
"<search>" query string that defines a search, see DBCacheContrib
web="..." the web where to search in (default: current web)
field(s)="..." name of one or more formfields to be extracted (default: "text")
pattern="..." regex pattern to extract keys from the formfield(s); you must provide at least one grouping ("(...)") in the pattern string that encloses the key to be extracted (default: "(\w+)"); you may have up to five groupings in one pattern that are accessible each in the format string
header="..." header format string to be prepended to the output
format="..." format string used for each key in the output
sep(arator)="..." separator to put between formatted keys
footer="..." footer format string to be appended to the output
sort="alpha,created" order of keys in the output
reverse="on,off" sort keys descending or ascending
limit="..." maximum number of keys to be formated in the output
hidenull="..." flag to indicate that an empty hit set should not be displayed

The DBSTATS searches for all topics in given web and reads the given form fields. It then uses the pattern to extract any key in the data and counts their occurrence. The result is rendered using the format parameter for each token found, separating them by sep, prepend the header and append the footer. Results can be sorted alphabetically or by createdate.

Format strings (header, format, footer) can use the following variables to insert the computed statistics:

  • $key, $key1: the found key, this must match the first group in the pattern argument
  • $key2, $key3, $key4,$key5: second, third, etc grouping in the pattern argument
  • $count: the number of occurences of the key
  • $index: index of the key within the sorted result set
  • $min: minimum count found in the search
  • $max: maximum count found in the search
  • $mean: mean occurence of a key in the result set
  • $keys: total number of keys found
  • $web: the web we search in
  • $topics: the list of all topics where the keys where found

For example if you want to extract all month/years from a database's Date field that has the format dd mon yyyy and then format a link to an archive using the month and the year as separate url parameters then use something like this:

%DBSTATS{"<db query>"
   pattern="((\w+) (\d\d\d\d))"
   header="---++ Archive"
   format="   * <a href="...?month=$key2&year=$key3">$key</a>"

Note, that the above pattern will crop away the day. Groups can be nested counting them from left to right, outside to inside: the first group matches the compete pattern, the second the month the third the year.


derive the title of a topic from a couple of properties:


<topic> topic we want the page title off, defaults to current topic

  • from a TOPICTITLE preference variable, or
  • from a "TopicTitle" formfield attribute, or
  • defaults to the topic name

Perl API

The DBCachePlugin supports overloading the contained default database cache by inheriting from DBCachePlugin::WebDB being itself a DBCacheContrib. The only purpose of the DBCachePlugin::WebDB is to extract the TopicFunctions contained in a topic as described above. You can easily extend this functionality by deriving a WebDB specific to your own TWikiApplication. For example, the TWiki:Plugins.BlogPlugin defines a WebDB of its own where it caches the createdate of a topic being either specified in a formfield or given in the timestamp of the first revision of a topic.



Returns a database object used for further queries. This function must be called ahead of any actual database access. If your TWikiApplication is using a derived WebDB then use the WEBDB variable in your WebPreferences to point to its implementation (example: Set WEBDB = TWiki::Plugins::BlogPlugin::WebDB). If WEBDB is not defined the default implementation TWiki::Plugins::DBCachePlugin::WebDB is used. Note, that this way only one application-specific database cache can be loaded per web. This is rather a design decision; otherwise each DBQUERY and DBCALL tag would have to declare which database it operated on. So currently the rule of thumb is: one web one TWikiApplication making use of this plugin.


This implements the database object that is used to access the topic records in a web. Note, that for each web there is exactly one WebDB database object. A database object is fetched (and initialized if needed) by the DBCachePlugin::getDB() function.


The DBQUERY functionality can be access from within perl using the plugins dbQuery() method.

(@$topicNames, %$topicObjs, $errorMsg) = $db->dbQuery([$search, @$topics, $order, $reverse, $include, $exclude])
webDB database object
search search clause
topics restrict search to this list of topics
order define a sorting on the hit set; this can be any formfield accessor or one of the shortcuts "created" (for createdate) or "modified" (for info.date) provided for compatibility with TWiki's SEARCH
reverse=on,off revert the sorting order
include pattern that topic names must match to be considered a hit
exclude pattern that topic names must not match to be considered a hit

returns a list pointer of all found topics names, a hash pointer to an array of all found topic objects (keys are the name of the topics) and a possibly defined error message.


Access the formfield value of an arbitrary topic.

$value = $db->getFormField($topic, $formfield)
topic a topic name
formfield a formfield name

returns the value of the named formfield

Plugin Settings

Each web can specify an alternative implementation inheriting from DBCachePlugin::WebDB. To specify it you have to set the WEBDB variable in the WebPreferences. If not the following is the default paramenter (omitting the #)

  • #Set WEBDB = TWiki::Plugins::DBCachePlugin::WebDB

{DBCache}{alwaysUpdateCache} (DBCacheContrib setting)

If $TWiki::cfg{DBCache}{alwaysUpdateCache} is set to FALSE (defaults to TRUE for compatibility) then DBCacheContrib will avoid calling updateCache unless requested with getDB($web, 1). _updateCache accesses every topic file in the web, so its an unnecessary performance hit. DBCachePlugin will then only request full _updateCache from the afterSaveHandler and from the new REST updateCache handler (change 'Web' to set which web to update). You can also call the update from the command line - from the twiki/bin dir -

./rest DBCachePlugin.UpdateCache topic=Web.WebHome

Plugin Installation Instructions

  • Download the ZIP file
  • Download and install all additionally required plugins listed in the dependencies information below
  • Unzip DBCachePlugin.zip in your twiki installation directory. Content:
    File: Description:

Plugin Info

Plugin Author: TWiki:Main/MichaelDaum
Copyright: © 2005-2008, Michael Daum http://michaeldaumconsulting.comi;
© 2005-2010, TWiki:TWiki.TWikiContributor
License: GPL (GNU General Public License)
Plugin Version: v2.1
Change History:  
2010-07-30: TWikibug:Item6530 - minor doc fixes
2010-04-29: TWikibug:Item6433 - doc improvements
03 Jul 2008: fixed calculation of a topic title; disabled renderWikiWordHandler for TWikis before 4.2, so not replacing the WikiName with its TopicTitle
28 Apr 2008: implemented TopicMethods in DBCALL
05 Feb 2008: addded rss() feature to format strings
4 Jan 2008: TWikibug:Item5319: fix empty separator
11 Dec 2007: renamed PAGETITLE to TOPICTITLE, matching formfield TopicTitle
07 Dec 2007: added PAGETITLE, defaulting to BASEWEB instead of INCLUDINGWEB in all of the tags
14 Nov 2007: protect against data store pollution, at least don't die
12 Sep 2007: made significant speedups to DBQuery fixed sorting to be O(N log(N)) removed topic access check unless absolutly necessary - SvenDowideit@homePLEASENOSPAM.org.au
19 Jun 2007: added TWiki-4.2 upwards compatibility hack to display users as WikiNames; added expand(%TML%) feature
08 May 2007: fixed loading db cache file since recent changes in DBCacheContrib
03 Apr 2007: fixed $date(format) in ATTACHMENTS; fixed 'segfault' in DBRECURSE while formatting sub-results
19 Feb 2007: multiple enhancements to the ATTACHMENTS tag (e.g. icons, actions)
31 Jan 2007: fixed caching "web" property of topics; fixed DBDUMP of topics w/o attachments; added numerical sorting of formfields; added support for the TWiki::Cache; added new tag DBRECURSE to itterate along topic relations
24 Jan 2007: added ATTACHMENTS tag
09 Nov 2006: fixed bug where a topic modification was not detected correctly resulting in an outdated cache when using perl accelerators; added pseudo-variable $topics to DBSTATS to list all topics in a class; added DESTROY methods for caches fixing memory leakage; fixed expansion order of pseudo-variable; speed improved DBQUERY by first checking the match and access rights afterwards (thanks to CDot)
13 Oct 2006: don't use the separator for header and footer format strings; fix links in DBQUERY the same way we do it in DBCALL; added remote parameter to switch on/off fixing links in transcluded content; expansion of $nop and $n in that order
28 Sep 2006: DBQUERY and DBSTATS did not obey twiki access rights
19 Sep 2006: added $key1...$key5 to the pattern matcher and formatter
18 Sep 2006: properly fixed parsing $trunc,$flatten and $encode in format strings; multiple fixes for calls and formatting accross webs
31 Aug 2006: added NO_PREFS_IN_TOPIC; fixed possibly insecure eval
22 Aug 2006: fixed parsing $trunc() and $flatten() in format strings
15 June 2006: generate an inline error instead of an oops on a bad search string to DBQUERY
05 Mai 2006: don't segfault on uncompiled WebDB implementations
30 Mar 2006: added WebDB property createdate formerly only known by the BlogPlugin; dont choke twiki if DBDUMPing a non-existing topic;
27 Mar 2006: added $trunc()
20 Mar 2006: using TWiki::Attrs to parse section names
12 Mar 2006: added hidenull to DBSTATS
10 Mar 2006: use ENV instead of the CGI object to detect the current cgi action
02 Mar 2006: fixed bad init error showing up on speedy/mod_perl
01 Mar 2006: added DBSTATS tag; modularized the plugin for delayed compilation
15 Feb 2006: don't use the query object in scripted mode
14 Feb 2006: forcing to reload the database after a save
10 Feb 2006: more performance on mod_perl/speedy_cgi: don't reload the topic cache if it hasn't changed
03 Jan 2006: fixed INCLUDING(WEB,TOPIC) in DBCALL; don't apply glue in advance anymore when storing topic sections, it's serving a better purpose when done during a DBCALL
26 Jan 2006: fixed internal links in DBCALL; support for STARTSECTION, old SECTION being deprecated
24 Nov 2005: Initial version
TWiki Dependency: $TWiki::Plugins::VERSION 1.1
CPAN Dependencies: none
Other Dependencies: TWiki:Plugins/DBCacheContrib (Version TWiki-4, Rev >= 13562)
Perl Version: 5.8
Benchmarks: SYSTEMWEB%.GoodStyle nn%, FormattedSearch nn%, DBCachePlugin nn%
Plugin Home: http://twiki.org/cgi-bin/view/Plugins/DBCachePlugin
Feedback: http://twiki.org/cgi-bin/view/Plugins/DBCachePluginDev
Appraisal: http://twiki.org/cgi-bin/view/Plugins/DBCachePluginAppraisal

Related Topics: TWikiPlugins, DeveloperDocumentationCategory, AdminDocumentationCategory, TWikiPreferences

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