My, oh my, has it already been over a year? Unbelievable.

I did play with CouchDB a little back then, and it was very rough. It has come a long long way since then. The potential was there then, and it is being realized now with a lot more potential left in storage.

CouchDB is a database engine, it is a very exciting database engine. It is, if I may describe it in this manner, beautiful. It is beautiful in the very sense of the word. Not simply for what it is, but for what it allows you to do and for it’s pure potential, the possibilities.

Most databases are relational, they consist of tables and tables consist of rows of data. It can be likened to an Excel spreadsheet. You can have multiple sheets in an Excel file, each sheet can be viewed as a table. Each sheet also consists of rows of data, and the columns represent attributes. Say in a schooling system, you can have classes, students, and teachers. So you would have a sheet to represent each of these. The students sheet would contain a row per student, and the classes sheet would contain a row per class and so on. A classes sheet would have attributes like: name, # of credits, schedule, teacher, semester, etc. All the rows in the sheet have the same attributes, so if an attribute were not to apply to a particular row, it would be left empty.

CouchDB has no tables, there is no schema. It stores documents. The documents can be of a certain type, like teacher or student, but unlike a table, not all the documents of a certain type need to contain the same attributes. So if an attribute does not apply to a particular document it simply does not exist in that document. This allows documents to be of the same type and yet be unique (kinda like humans). It is this flexibility and freedom from constraints that makes CouchDB so beautiful.

Developers are very used to the rigid way of relational databases, it is ingrained into the way we are taught to think. The freedom of CouchDB is awesome. But not all is hunky dory, there are still ways to go and there are things that can be easily done in relational databases that take more effort with CouchDB. However, in my mind, it’s worth it. The freedom and flexibility allow your mind to run in so many directions and consider so many possibilities (if you let it). You don’t have to have everything planned out before you start, you can just go with the flow and not worry about being locked in. Did I mention how beautiful this thing is?

CouchDB uses javascript to query information instead of the traditional SQL. The sweetness of this goes beyond the syntactic sugar. Once again, it changes the way in which you think about information.

This is quite the database engine. Sexy, if you will. =D

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