One of Obtiva’s long-running customs is a weekly, catered, lunch-and-learn we call Geekfest. Recently, Matt Polito presented his explorations into MongoDB for his side project Breadbox. I appreciated Matt’s demo because he showed us his struggles. Then, Ethan Gunderson, who has taught himself a ton about Mongo over the last 6 months could step in and speak up. As we as a developer community become more open-minded about storing our data in datastores like MongoDB, Neo4j, Riak, etc, we have a lot to learn. First, there’s the syntax and libraries that wrap these storage systems, and these can be picked up quickly. Ultimately, though, the toughest stuff to learn is what I saw Matt struggle with, and what I struggle with. It’s the data modeling, actually thinking about the entities, relationships, calculations, and queries in a different way.
There is most definitely a welcome shift happening in our community. A “right tool for the right job” attitude is seeping into our database toolset, and once some of the “shiny new object” excitement wears off, we will have a few new platforms such as Mongo, CouchDB, and Redis that we are going to be expected to be proficient in, like SQL and RDBMS today. You can choose to start learning this stuff now, or you can wait until you inherit a project where someone else has used them, and you are forced to learn based on their understanding of how best to use them. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there are advantages to being the original author of a system and an early adopter of a new mindset.
Ryan Briones and Ethan obviously see this opportunity and have run with it. They recently started ChicagoDB, “An aspiring group of database nerds learning new ways to scale our data. Relational, NoSQL, etc!” My hope is that these meetings go beyond learning syntax and libraries, and really dig into the mindsets that these different technologies encourage. See you there!