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<A Gentle Introduction to CouchDB for Relational Practitioners ⁄ >




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CouchDB is a document-oriented database written in Erlang that addresses a particular "sweet spot" in data storage and retrieval needs. This blog post is an introduction to CouchDB for those of us who have a relational database background.

A CouchDB database doesn't have tables. It has a collection of documents, stored in a B+Tree. A document is a collection of attributes and values. Values can be atomic, or complex nested structures such as arrays and sub-documents. When you add a document to a database, CouchDB stores it in the B+Tree, indexed by two attributes with special meaning: _id and _rev.

CouchDB lets you store related data together even if it isn't all the same type of data; you can store documents representing blog posts, users, and comments - all in the same database. This is not as chaotic as it sounds. To get your data back out of CouchDB in sensible ways, you define views over the database. A view stores a subset of the database's documents. You can think of them as materialized partial indexes. You can create a view of blog posts, and a view of comments, and so on. Each view is another B+Tree. It stays up-to-date with the changes you make to the database.



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