A transaction ensures that every change made to the entity is saved to the datastore, or, in the case of failure, none of the changes are made. This ensures consistency of data within an entity.
You can perform multiple actions on an entity within a single transaction using the transaction API. For example, say you want to increment a counter field in an object. To do so, you need to read the value of the counter, calculate the new value, then store it. Without a transaction, it is possible for another process to increment the counter between the time you read the value and the time you update the value, causing your app to overwrite the updated value. Doing the read, calculation and write in a single transaction ensures that no other process interferes with the increment.
You can make changes to multiple entities within a single transaction. To support this, App Engine needs to know in advance which entities will be updated together, so it knows to store them in a way that supports transactions. You must declare that an entity belongs to the same entity group as another entity when you create the entity. All entities fetched, created, updated or deleted in a transaction must be in the same entity group.
Entity groups are defined by a hierarchy of relationships between entities. To create an entity in a group, you declare that the entity is a child of another entity already in the group. The other entity is the parent. An entity created without a parent is a root entity. A root entity without any children exists in an entity group by itself. Each entity has a path of parent-child relationships from a root entity to itself (the shortest path being no parent). This path is an essential part of the entity's complete key. A complete key can be represented by the kind and ID or key name of each entity in the path.
The datastore uses optimistic concurrency to manage transactions. While one app instance is applying changes to entities in an entity group, all other attempts to update any entity in the group fail instantly. The app can try the transaction again to apply it to the updated data.
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