Logically renumbering records
Records stored in the Queue and Recno access methods are accessed by logical record number. In all cases in Btree databases, and optionally in Recno databases (see the DB->set_flags method and the DB_RENUMBER flag for more information), record numbers are mutable. This means that the record numbers may change as records are added to and deleted from the database. The deletion of record number 4 causes any records numbered 5 and higher to be renumbered downward by 1; the addition of a new record after record number 4 causes any records numbered 5 and higher to be renumbered upward by 1. In all cases in Queue databases, and by default in Recno databases, record numbers are not mutable, and the addition or deletion of records to the database will not cause already-existing record numbers to change. For this reason, new records cannot be inserted between already-existing records in databases with immutable record numbers.
Cursors pointing into a Btree database or a Recno database with mutable record numbers maintain a reference to a specific record, rather than a record number, that is, the record they reference does not change as other records are added or deleted. For example, if a database contains three records with the record numbers 1, 2, and 3, and the data items "A", "B", and "C", respectively, the deletion of record number 2 ("B") will cause the record "C" to be renumbered downward to record number 2. A cursor positioned at record number 3 ("C") will be adjusted and continue to point to "C" after the deletion. Similarly, a cursor previously referring to the now deleted record number 2 will be positioned between the new record numbers 1 and 2, and an insertion using that cursor will appear between those records. In this manner records can be added and deleted to a database without disrupting the sequential traversal of the database by a cursor.
Only cursors created using a single DB handle can adjust each other's position in this way, however. If multiple DB handles have a renumbering Recno database open simultaneously (as when multiple processes share a single database environment), a record referred to by one cursor could change underfoot if a cursor created using another DB handle inserts or deletes records into the database. For this reason, applications using Recno databases with mutable record numbers will usually make all accesses to the database using a single DB handle and cursors created from that handle, or will otherwise single-thread access to the database, for example, by using the Berkeley DB Concurrent Data Store product.
In any Queue or Recno databases, creating new records will cause the creation of multiple records if the record number being created is more than one greater than the largest record currently in the database. For example, creating record number 28, when record 25 was previously the last record in the database, will implicitly create records 26 and 27 as well as 28. All first, last, next and previous cursor operations will automatically skip over these implicitly created records. So, if record number 5 is the only record the application has created, implicitly creating records 1 through 4, the DBcursor->c_get interface with the DB_FIRST flag will return record number 5, not record number 1. Attempts to explicitly retrieve implicitly created records by their record number will result in a special error return, DB_KEYEMPTY.
In any Berkeley DB database, attempting to retrieve a deleted record, using a cursor positioned on the record, results in a special error return, DB_KEYEMPTY. In addition, when using Queue databases or Recno databases with immutable record numbers, attempting to retrieve a deleted record by its record number will also result in the DB_KEYEMPTY return.