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Anti-patterns for developing with NoSQL databases

Basho, makers of Riak, published recently an article about the most common patterns that have to be avoided when developing with Riak. Unsurprisingly, most of these rules can must be applied to the majority of NoSQL databases.

Writing an application that can take full advantage of Riak’s robust scaling properties requires a different way of looking at data storage and retrieval. Developers who bring a relational mindset to Riak may create applications that work well with a small data set but start to show strain in production, particularly as the cluster grows.

What I’ve learned after experimenting and building apps with different NoSQL databases can be summarized in just a couple of short generic rules:

  1. if you have the “disadvantage” of being experienced with relational databases and working on an app that will use a NoSQL database, forget everything you know about the relational world. Take out that part of your brain and put it in the jar. Use the other side of your brain. Avoid any temptations of doing comparisons or asking yourself “how would I do this in a relational database?”. You’ll fail.
  2. when using relational databases, most often we start with the data model. “What’s the best way to organize and store our data?” is one of the first questions we’re addressing. Only afterwards we’re figuring out, in the application, how to retrieve data in the format needed by the app.
  3. when using a NoSQL database, focus on your application. “How do I use data in my application?” must be the driving question. Then your NoSQL database API will tell you exactly how to store the data.

    This might make it sound too simple. Indeed, it’s not that simple. Some of the complexity you’ll face comes from figuring out how to keep multiple copies of the data to fit the different ways you need to access it, updating and deleting multiple copies, dealing with the consistency requirements of your app, what availability versus consistency trade-offs your app is OK with.

  4. take the time to learn the most common usage patterns and anti-patterns for the NoSQL database you have picked. If you cannot find the ones that fit your application, talk to the community and build a prototype. Do not ignore point 3 above at any stage.

    Now go over the list of the anti-patterns when developing with Riak.

Original title and link: Anti-patterns for developing with NoSQL databases (NoSQL database©myNoSQL)