PostgreSQL is a Hot Database Choice yet Again

It seems the venerable PostgreSQL database is garnering a new wave of buzz across the IT industry. Maybe our series of articles on Postgres earlier this year helped contribute to this newfound hipness? Probably not, but modern tech organizations hoping for a cheaper alternative to Oracle while still getting support for NoSQL consider it to be a worthy option.

Let’s look more closely at some of the reasons why PostgreSQL remains one of the hottest databases – relational or not – on the market. Perhaps it makes sense for your team’s next data-centric web or desktop application?

Postgres is actually growing in Popularity!?

PostgreSQL’s increase in popularity caught the attention of InfoWorld magazine, who recently talked about the database’s hot factor earlier this month. In fact, Postgres now ranks as the 4th most popular database in the industry, according to a study by DB-Engines. Not surprisingly, the only three DBs ranked higher are Oracle, MySQL, and SQL Server.

The reasons for the growing popularity of Postgres – especially with younger developers – are numerous. InfoWorld’s writer, Matt Asay notes the improved performance brought by the support for JSON included in PostgreSQL 9.2 and boosted in version 9.4. Another important reason involves programmers growing tired of trying to fit even hipper NoSQL options like MongoDB into solution where a relational database makes the most sense.

Ultimately, in a situation when an old-school DB works best, PostgreSQL’s open source nature is simply more cost effective than Oracle or SQL Server. In fact, Postgres first earned its mojo as a cheaper alternative to Oracle. Still, could this old school database scale fast enough for use in modern web applications?

PostgreSQL and its newfound Scalability

The ubiquitous nature of social networks like Facebook and Twitter puts the onus on modern web applications to be extremely scalable. Most RDBMS options generally provide poor scalability, as did Postgres for most of its existence. Asay notes the introduction of Citus, an extension for PostgreSQL, provides a level of scalability rivaling many of the popular NoSQL databases.

Citus supports Postgres instances across multiple nodes, while providing a distributed model for transactions and SQL queries. These features give this veteran relational database the parallelism required for a massively scalable application able to compete in today’s market place. Take that, Cassandra.

While Citus is available as an open source extension, the company that developed it also offers a commercial version with full support. This is a similar model that EnterpriseDB followed with PostgreSQL itself. Citus provides a great option for shops working with Postgres for development and them implementing Citus for extra scalability before going live.

It also lets companies take advantage of their in-house talent’s database skills without spending on training in the latest NoSQL database options. These bonuses are arguably behind the still growing popularity of PostgreSQL.  Elijah Zupancic‏, the Director of Solutions Engineering for Joyent comments on some of the other core reasons.

“From a developer perspective, it is a pleasure to use. The documentation is wonderful, the data types reflect the types developers work with, and there is little surprising.”

Keep coming back to the Betica Blog for additional insights on software development, testing, and occasionally, databases.

A Source Code Search Engine makes Programming more Efficient

No matter your experience level as a software engineer, being able to quickly find code examples helps make your job a bit easier. Most developers know how to write a complex Google search query, as well as being able to navigate GitHub. Nonetheless, having a dedicated source code search engine offers the potential to become more efficient at writing software.

A nascent software developer feels the same way, and is working on a search engine dedicated to finding those valuable code snippets that inspire a solution to a pressing problem. This approach also offers the potential to make learning new languages an easier process. Let’s take a closer look at his efforts.

Learning New Programming and discovering New Functionality

After being exposed to software engineering as part of his college education, Canadian developer, Anthony Nguyen felt there had to be a better way to find relevant code examples. Sure, a Google search helps somewhat, but what about a dedicated search engine specifically for source code? Nguyen began work on SyntaxDB, a tool he hopes to someday be an essential part of any developer’s toolbox.

Michael Byrne first reported on Nguyen’s efforts earlier this year at Motherboard on Vice.com. If Nguyen makes SyntaxDB a success, it becomes another key to making the modern software development team work more efficiently. Interested developers are able to use this emerging resource today.

Byrne notes the tool’s utility for seeing how a common code pattern or piece of functionality gets written in an unfamiliar language. Considering the rapid rate of change in the software development world, new languages and functional libraries get introduced regularly. Having SyntaxDB at the ready helps to speed up the learning process for any programmer.

The Developer Community helping SyntaxDB build its Content

One current weakness noted by Byrne involves SyntaxDB’s relative lack of reference documentation. At the time of his article, it appeared Nguyen himself produced a lot of the internal content returned in the search results.

A robust community of developers willing to help add material to the SyntaxDB database has come to the rescue; potentially increasing the amount of content referenced by the search engine. It currently provides references to many popular languages, including Java, C, C++, C#, Ruby, Go, Swift, Python, and JavaScript.

Adding extensions to allow SyntaxDB to work within the most popular IDE’s is another way Nguyen needs support. He built one for Visual Studio Code and other contributor wrote one for Atom. Nguyen hopes to eventually integrate SyntaxDB into every major IDE and source code editor – a worthy goal, indeed.

Nguyen also wants input from other developers on how to refine the search engine’s interface. He also encourages developers to submit any corrections to the tool’s current source code examples. His current major project with SyntaxDB involves building an interface to easily allow content contributions from other software engineers.

With a goal of becoming the fastest programming reference in the world, Anthony Nguyen gives hope to developers struggling to learn a new programming language or simply how to do something new. Take some time to use SyntaxDB and offer feedback and even add some content of your own.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for further insights on the growing software development world. As always – thanks for reading!

A Closer Look at the MEAN Stack

The LAMP stack – which stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP – has been standard practice for web development at many shops for nearly a decade. Since the one constant in the technology world is its rapid pace of change, it stands to reason a new standard is emerging in this software development space. The MEAN stack leverages many recent innovations in technology, including NoSQL databases in addition to some popular JavaScript libraries.

What follows is a high level overview of the MEAN stack to give you some food for thought before architecting your next web development project. Leverage these insights to make an informed decision on which development stack works best for your needs.

What is “MEAN?”

The MEAN stack is made up of MongoDB, one of the most preeminent NoSQL databases, used in combination with three popular JavaScript frameworks, ExpressJS, AngularJS, and Node.js. The fact that nearly all code for a MEAN project – from database to client – is written in JavaScript is one of the main reasons for its rapid growth. If your organization boasts a lot of JavaScript coding talent, it makes MEAN worthy of consideration on your next web project.

The Four Components of the MEAN Stack

MongoDB is a NoSQL document database widely popular for all kinds of applications. MongoDB is also available through many Cloud service providers, including Amazon AMS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. It leverages the JSON format for data transfer, making it highly appropriate as the database of choice for MEAN.

A lightweight framework for architecting web applications, ExpressJS was inspired by the popular Ruby library, Sinatra. It is a high performance framework well suited for both scalability and concurrency. It also facilitates the creation of unique APIs specifically for use in a web application.

AngularJS is a Google-developed framework for quickly building web-based user interfaces. It makes the creation of dynamic web pages a breeze; leveraging two-way data binding along with other useful features, including client-side code execution and support for the MVC model. Angular’s extensibility and flexibility enhances its compatibility with other frameworks and libraries, in addition to being a major component of the MEAN stack.

Node.js provides the server side execution environment for a MEAN application. Expect a high scalability factor even with a server farm charged with hosting multiple applications. Built upon version 8 of the Chrome JavaScript runtime engine, Node.js by itself is growing in usage among development teams.

The Advantages of the MEAN Stack

Obviously, the fact that all server and client code is written in JavaScript remains of the major advantages of the MEAN stack. Companies are able to take advantage of their staff’s familiarity with a scripting language that’s been around for two decades. Any overall learning curve is lessened by simply focusing on learning MEAN’s three libraries and MongoDB. 

The scalability features of ExpressJS and Node.js make the MEAN stack suitable for the highly concurrent web applications currently in vogue throughout the technology world. The flexibility of the libraries used in MEAN make it easy to swap out any of the components for a library (or database) more familiar to your development staff. It is definitely worthy of exploration for use in your team’s next web development project.

Keep returning to the Betica Blog for additional dispatches from the wide world of software development. Thanks for reading!