News from the World of Software Development – June 2018

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Welcome to the latest edition of our monthly news digest where we analyze a few of the most interesting recent stories from the software engineering world. If you are interested in last month’s digest, by all means click on the following link. Hopefully, the month’s version provides some food for thought to assist you and your team with your development work!

IBM making Blockchain Development easier for Software Engineers

Blockchain and similar peer-to-peer ledgers continue to make an impact within the technology industry. In fact, software engineers experienced with blockchain development remain highly in demand all over the world, something we previously noted. Unfortunately, the lack of the proper tools for these kinds of applications – let alone finding enough skilled developers – makes programming projects in the space a difficult process.

Here comes IBM to the rescue. Big Blue recently announced the IBM Blockchain Platform Starter Plan, providing developers and businesses the means to bootstrap their efforts in this area of software engineering. News about the new IBM product appeared this week in SD Times.

IBM is a strong supporter of blockchain. In fact, the company introduced IBM Blockchain Starter Services, Blockchain Acceleration Services and Blockchain Innovation Services earlier this year. Big Blue’s VP of blockchain technology, Jerry Cuomo commented on the new platform starter plan.

“What do you get when you offer easy access to an enterprise blockchain test environment for three months? More than 2,000 developers and tens of thousands of transaction blocks, all sprinting toward production readiness,” said Cuomo.

The new platform leverages the open source Hyperledger Fabric framework built by IBM with Digital Asset. Organizations using the platform receive $500 in credit for their own blockchain network. Their developers enjoy a test environment, a suite of educational tools, code samples hosted on GitHub, in addition to network provisioning.

“And while Starter Plan was originally intended as an entry point for developers to test and deploy their first blockchain applications, users also now include larger enterprises creating full applications powered by dozens of smart contracts, eliminating many of the repetitive legacy processes that have traditionally slowed or prevented business success,” added Cuomo.

MongoDB 4.0 embraces the Cloud

One of the most popular NoSQL databases, MongoDB recently introduced its latest version, 4.0, with a host of new features aimed at Cloud deployment. We previously talked about MongoDB when we wrote about the MEAN stack, which uses the database. Coverage of version 4.0 of the database appeared this week in ZDNet.

MongoDB leverages a document model, which allows it to support key-value, graph, and text-based database structures. 4.0’s most relevant new features improve its transaction processing capabilities – notably support for ACID transactions – as well as making it easier to build Cloud-based applications. ACID support is facilitated by a new replication model using stronger consistency combined with fast failover.

The 4.0 feature supporting the Cloud is known as MongoDB Stitch. Stitch is a Cloud-based serverless environment hosted on MongoDB’s Atlas Cloud environment. Significantly, it supports stateful applications. There are currently 23,000 apps hosted on Atlas, with nearly 500 more being added each day.

Version 4.0 also includes support for mobile devices with an embedded version of MongoDB. If your team is using the MEAN stack or curious about it, take the time to learn more about this popular NoSQL database. 

Thanks for checking out the edition of the Betica Blog. Keep coming back for additional insights on the software development world!   

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!

The NoSQL Capabilities of PostgreSQL

Many businesses of all sizes leverage PostgreSQL as an open source option to Oracle and other relational databases. Significant cost savings while maintaining a similar level of performance remains a preeminent reason for this switch. A robust community and the availability of commercial-grade support make Postgres worthy of consideration for your traditional database needs. 

With NoSQL gaining popularity all over the technology world, you may wonder how PostgreSQL supports this new database paradigm. Let’s take a look at what functionality exists today in the database with a quick towards the future as well.

Postgres NoSQL for the Enterprise

We’ve talked about EnterpriseDB’s commercial level version of PostgreSQL previously on the blog. The company also offers a Postgres version with support for document databases and key-value stores – two of the most common NoSQL database types. Known as Postgres NoSQL for the Enterprise, this is something worthy of closer attention at companies looking for an open source mix of relational and NoSQL databases.

This Postgres database solution combines the speed and flexibility of NoSQL with the traditional SQL database functionality required for enterprise use – most notably the support for ACID (atomic, consistent, isolated, and durable) transactions. Database instances also easily integrate into the existing business data infrastructure, no matter the platform. In short, it provides the best of both worlds – relational and NoSQL.

ACID transactions are vital for business organizations that depend on the real-time validity of the relationships within its data. Many current NoSQL databases don’t offer this feature, instead following the BASE paradigm which emphasizes speed and availability over the consistency of the data. Postgres NoSQL lets companies combine unstructured and structured data; mixing the performance of NoSQL with the more formalized governance of traditional SQL.

Postgres NoSQL supports many industry standards for programmatic access and data exchange. These include Ruby, Python, and JavaScript for the former, and the JSON and XML formats in the latter case. The superior performance of PostgreSQL combined with the seamless scalability typical of a NoSQL database solution make EnterpriseDB’s combination of Postgres and NoSQL a valid option for any business desiring a flexible database infrastructure.

The Future of PostgreSQL and NoSQL

In a previous article looking at new features of PostgreSQL 10, we noted the relative lack of NoSQL functionality in this newest version of Postgres, slated for release later this year. The new XMLTABLE feature supports the direct querying of data stored in XML documents. Other performance improvements in version 10 bring the speed of the relational database closer to its other NoSQL brethren.

One recent enhancement in Amazon Web Services deserves mention for companies using a mixture of relational and NoSQL databases. The AWS database migration service now includes NoSQL databases, with MongoDB (as a source) and Amazon’s own DynamoDB (as a target) being the first two to be supported. This means companies with a PostgreSQL instance on AWS are able to stream data from Postgres to a DynamoDB instance.

Companies with an investment in PostgreSQL need to explore EnterpriseDB’s NoSQL option to see if any of its features make sense for adding non-traditional database formats to the corporate data infrastructure.

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