NoSQL: Why, How and When


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It's obvious you know a lot about CouchDB and have hacked with it a lot, but I don't think you were able to communicate that in a way that was accessible to most of the audience. At the start of the talk you asked if anyone was using a variation of NoSQL databases in their apps. Of the 30-some people in the room, only a few raised their hands.

The latter part of the talk was you showing us stuff with Futon2, which seemed cool, but I don't think many of us know exactly what was going on half the time. Maybe it was just me, but it was hard to follow.

The code samples you displayed about using PHP to insert and get images was useful, and I would have liked to have seen more examples of code usage, or additional use cases for when CouchDB is a good choice.

Overall, the first part of the talk about the history of NoSQL and the differences between all the different types of NoSQL databases had good structure. But once we got to the second half of installing CouchDB, resty and Sag, it turned into more steam of consciousness and a demo of Futon2, which didn't really involve the audience doing anything with what we just installed.

Overall it was a good presentation. I know a 3 hour tutorial can be a daunting task and a lot of work. It was obvious the presenter was familiar with several NoSQL solutions and their history, and was experienced with CouchDB. I know by the half way mark I was looking forward to haking with CouchDB when I found some time to. You could tell some thought and effort went into the slides by the presenter.

The second half of the presentation, I felt, lost a little bit of the focus. I believe the overall reason for this was because Benjamin knew so many little details about the different nuances of CouchDB, he seemed to talk more about the tiny details instead of staying focused on the primary points and let audience questions bring up some of the tinier nuances. Ultimately, we ran out of time and I had to leave before we could play around with the CouchDB Replication, which would have been fun to experience.

My recommendation to the presenter would be this: Keep the first part the same, it was on point and very informative. Then, figure out the main points you want to discuss in the second half and have pre-built, simplified examples of these points. Let questions control the depth of the explanations. I know it can be a lot of work to get these examples setup, but it pays off in being able to keep the audience's attention and draw out questions. Then, at the end have a more full circle example putting all the principles together. My personal opinion is it is always better to err on the side of finishing earlier than running out of time.

With just a little bit more organization and focus on the second half, this tutorial can go from being good and informative to great and interactive. I hope the presenter doesn't feel offended about my opinion, but rather just some ideas to help focus and improve the presentation.

Thanks Benjamin for the presentation. :)

Anonymous at 13:55 on 27 May 2011

A decent talk, but I don't feel I learned very much...but that was probably because I was concentrating on installing couch, which I never actually used during the talk.

The NoSQL tutorial was definitely one of the more intriguing educational experiences this week. Coming from a background in CMS development and customization, I was very interested in the architecture of BlueInk.

The background on different DBMSs was very well put together, and the explanation of the NoSQL paradigm (along with its uses and pitfalls) was also very good. The transition into CouchDB felt a bit rushed, mostly because it involved installing several of the necessary components. Also Futon demos could have been done in a more progressive fashion, perhaps with the goal of building a small application. They could start with a more basic overview of the interface and then move into advanced features. It is really material for a workshop, which could've taken a whole day.

Altogether a great and challenging presentation -- the type that keep me moving forward as a developer. Thank you!