In the field of bioinformatics, we regularly work with hierarchical and unstructured document data. Unstructured text data from PDFs, image data from radiographs, phylogenetic trees and cladograms, network graphs, streaming ECG data... none of it fits into a traditional SQL database particularly well. As such, we prefer to use document oriented databases.

MongoDB is probably the oldest component in our stack besides Javascript, having been in it for over 5 years. At the time, we were looking for a technology that could simply cache our data visualization state (stored in JSON) in a database as-is without any destructive normalization. MongoDB was the perfect tool; and has been exceeding expectations ever since.

Trivia fact: some of the earliest electronic medical records (EMRs) used a document oriented database called MUMPS as early as the 1960s, prior to the invention of SQL. MUMPS is still in use today in systems like Epic and VistA, and stores upwards of 40% of all medical records at hospitals. So, we saw MongoDB as something as a 21st century version of the MUMPS database.

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