qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Book Review: CouchDB - The Definitive Guide, by J Chris Anderson, Jan Lehnardt and Noah Slater
I'm always sceptical of "complete" or "definitive" books; however there aren't that many to choose from on this subject, and I wanted a general text rather than one focusing on a particular area. It's a disarmingly lightweight book and read. The NoSQL approach in this case is to do one thing (index-based lookups) and do it well. CouchDB views, which are their implementation of MapReduce, are simply explained, as are data validation and (rather slimly) security. Some of the details are quite likely out of date: the book dates from early 2010 and I obtained it second-hand; but hopefully the principles and techniques remain.

The examples are clearly presented, but there are one or two areas where the text falls short. In particular, there's a glib statement that you can't access multiple documents at once in a single view, which is clearly part of the philosophy behind the product, but there could be more explanation of how to re-think such scenarios, especially as there's a chapter that provides a cookbook for migrating from SQL-based DBMSs. There seem to be some magic JavaScript APIs that I think could be made clearer, or at least pointers could have been given for where to look further. There's also some confusion on whether the B+Tree/MVCC approach retains document versions indefinitely - surely this guarantees only that you will eventually run out of disk space. The online CouchDB documentation does now seem quite heavyweight, so hopefully such things are explained in appropriate detail there.
Tags: books, computing
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