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C'est la Z

MongoDB World 2019

For those of you who don't know, MongoDB is a very popular NoSQL database. NoSQL is an overarching term describing databases that are not relational and don't implement Structured Query Language (SQL). In a relational database your data is stored in tables with columns - think spreadsheet where each row of the table is a record in the database. You link tables together via a common field or row name. NoSQL databases work differently.

MongoDB is a document store. In MongoDB a document is a JSON object. Essentially a Javascript (or Python) dictionary. As a result you do things differently. I plan to write up something more on the differences between SQL and NoSQL in the near future.

I've been using MongoDB on and off for a number of years. I use it for personal projects and also in the software development course I taught at Stuy. The community edition is free and easy to install and it's very easy for a beginner to get started.

Let's say you wanted to store information about a students. You might create this dictionary:

  student = { 'Last' : 'Hugginkis',
              'First' : 'Amanda',
              'ID' : 1245,
              'Homeroom' : '5A',
              'Schedule' : ['Eng','Math','Gym','CS','Lunch','Physcis',"Band"]}

You add this to your database like this:


Later, you can query for all the students in Homeroom 5A:


Super quick and easy. It also comes with a nice REPL - essentially a Javascript interpreter - to play with.

I've spent the last two days at MongoDB World 2019. A great conference if you want to get up to speed on MongoDB. I left reminded of a number of great MongoDB products that I hadn't really used and a few new ones they're just launching:

  • Atlas This is their DB as service. Don't want to administer your own installation? Just spin up an Atlas cluster. The free tier is plenty generous and you and your students can get up and running in under 10 minutes.

  • Compass Back in the day you either interacted with MongoDB pragmatically using a language driver or used their REPL shell. Compass is a complete fully functional GUI. It can connect to your database, a remote one, or an Atlas cluster. A game changer for database management

  • Charts This is really cool. You link MongoDB charts to an Atlas cluster and then can interactively build dashboards and visualizations. You can then embed the visualizations into your own web projects.

  • Field Level Encryption

Encrypting passwords for storage and similar practices are important but can be aslog. MongoDB now takes care of this for you. You can, for instance, tell your database to encrypt the password fields and your done.

  • Data Lake

This blew me away. Basically, it can take your AWS storage and let you query it as if it were a MongoDB database. It works with a variety of file formst - JSON, XML, CSV and more. Basically it transparently turns cloud storage into a database.

  • Stitch This allows for the building of serverless apps. Similar to Firebase but it looks to interact with all the other MongoDB goodness I've mentioned. .

There were a few other neat things I learned about MongoDB and related products but those were the highlights.

As usual, I left the conference energized.

If you don't use MongoDB check it out for yourself and your students. In addition to being a great product, it's also a great company.

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