Azure Table Storage: Order by

On today’ s hardware having 1000’s of rows to hold, in a list, in memory and sort is easily supportable. What the real issue is, how possible is it for you to access the rows in table storage using the Keys and not having to do a table scan. Duplicating rows across multiple tables could get quite cumbersome to maintain.

An alternate solution, would be to temporarily stage your rows into SQL Azure and apply an order by there. This may be effective if your result set is too large to work in memory. For best results the temporary table would need to have the necessary indexes.

Why not do all of this in .net using a List.

For this type of application I would have thought SQL Azure would have been more appropriate.

Azure Storage keeps entities in lexicographical order, indexed by Partition Key as primary index and Row Key as secondary index. In general for your scenario it sounds like UserId would be a good fit for a partition key, so you have the Row Key to optimize for per each query.

If you want the user to see the wish lists latest on top, then you can use the log tail pattern where your row key will be the inverted Date Time Ticks of the DateTime when the wish list was entered by the user.

If you want user to see their wish lists ordered by the item name you could have your item name as your row key, and so the entities will naturally sorted by azure.

When you are writing the data you may want to denormalize the data and do multiple writes with these different row key schemas. Since you will have the same partition key as user id, you can at that stage do a batch insert operation and not worry about consistency since azure table batch operations are atomic.

To differentiate the different rowkey schemas, you may want to prepend each with a const string value. Like your inverted ticks row key value for instance woul dbe something like "InvertedTicks_[InvertedDateTimeTicksOfTheWishList]" and your item names row key value would be "ItemName_[ItemNameOfTheWishList]"