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aY NoSQL, round holes and square pegs

Note: This article was originally published at Planet PHP on 25 June 2010.
Planet PHP

Ivo Jansch:

In last year's conference, there was a talk on CouchDB, introducing a aNoSQL' database as a response to relational databases often being a hassle when web data needs to be stored and manipulated. This year, we could see that NoSQL is catching on and becoming more mainstream. Matthew Weier O'Phinney, project manager of the Zend Framework, discussed NoSQL in detail, and MongoDB (Another NoSQL database) was mentioned in a couple of talks. NoSQL is definitely something to have a look at, and it might be useful even in existing projects. More info can be found on the Wikipedia page.

We saw the same at this year's TEKAX conference. More and more people are realizing that working with SQL is, at least in some cases, an exercise in fitting a square peg to a round hole; NoSQL, however, still presents a movement aoon the rebounda from SQL, so that they seem to be trying to round out a lot of pegs that maybe don't need to be.AOn the other hand, some uses of RDBMSs are a little ridiculous. If you're storing documents inside a MySQL database, you're not using the best tool for the job.

However, the NoSQL community still has a long road ahead of itself, with many issues that need resolving. Right now, fragmentation-the result of the relative youth of these systems1-makes the adoption of any one system risky, while the lack of a common data querying language (or even vocabulary) makes it difficult to future-proof any project based on a document-oriented database system.

Eventually, I suspect that we'll reach some sort of equilibrium in which one of the document-oriented systems will prevail and become as ubiquitous as, say, MySQL has become, or, at least, some sort of bottom-of-the-barrel standard like SQL will become common among the various implementations, so that developers will be able to switch between systems more easily and focus on the differences that make one more appropriate than the others in a particular development scenario. Of course, the various NoSQL leads could simply attempt to get together and find some common ground that can help them grow more organically and cohesively-but this is softwarea so I won't be holding my breath.

  1. Document-oriented databases have been around for a long time, but they were relegated to specialized applications until recently. With greater awareness, there are an increasing number of competing systems being developed in a completely haphazard and disconnected way. a