News from the World of Software Development – June 2018

IBM-desktop2

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!   

An Overview of the New MySQL 8.0

mysql desktop

MySQL remains a valid database option for companies looking for an alternative to Oracle or SQL Server. While it may not offer the enterprise-level horsepower of PostgreSQL, it still works well for many scenarios. This is likely why it maintains its status as the most popular open source database in the industry.

Recently, the folks behind MySQL released version 8.0 of the database. New features and functionality abound. Let’s take a high level overview of this new edition to see if there’s anything to help with your own software development projects.

The New Features in MySQL 8.0

The new version of MySQL added a whole host of enhanced SQL functionality. This includes support for window functions, common table expressions, as well as the NOWAIT and SKIP LOCKED statements. Most notably, window functions provide the ability to perform analytics on stored data; this is long-awaited feature as SQL Server added it in 2003.

They also added support for descending indexes which provides a performance improvement, especially when working with large datasets. The new GROUPING() function lets developers build datasets that distinguish super-aggregate rows from the results of GROUP BY queries. Both of these features were highly requested among the MySQL user community.

Boosting overall application performance becomes essential when using MySQL. Version 8.0 gives developers a new syntax for including optimizer hints. You simply place them using something similar to inline comment blocks after a SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, REPLACE, or DELETE statement.

Additionally, the new version adds optimizer hints for a variety of INDEX and JOIN statements.  Now developers can control index merge behavior for each individual query or even the table order when performing a join. The MySQL development team feels the new optimizer hint syntax makes it easier to use while also boosting code readability.

MySQL adds Improved JSON Support

The JSON format is essential for web applications that rely on transferring objects expressed as a data structure. MySQL 8.0 improves its support for JSON in a myriad of ways. First, it adds extended syntax for ranges when using JSON path expressions.

The new JSON table functions lets you use regular SQL statements when working with JSON data. This is a boon for developers especially skilled in writing SQL queries. It essentially creates a relational view of JSON data.

Other new JSON features in MySQL 8.0 include aggregation and merge functions. A boost in sorting performance and the ability to perform partial updates are also welcome. The former helps to optimize large applications while the latter makes replication processes faster.

Other New MySQL 8.0 Features

Another significant new feature in MySQL 8.0 is support for GIS, including the Spatial Reference System. This lets applications using the database to easily calculate global distances given a LAT and LONG. The database now supports bitwise operations on binary data types, making the processing of IPV6 addresses easier.

The MySQL query optimizer also gets some improvements beyond the new hint syntax. Histograms and better handing of data buffering help engineers boost overall app and database performance. Finally, the database boasts improved reliability, availability, and reporting with an eye towards being used at companies following DevOps.

In short, MySQL 8.0 adds a host of new features making the database more attractive to organizations with high-demand applications. The improved DevOps support is also welcome. For more detailed information on MySQL 8.0, simply click on this link.

Thanks for reading this edition of the Betica Blog. Keep returning for additional insights on the software development world.

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.