What is CouchDB?
Who uses CouchDB?
Why developers like CouchDB?
Here are some stack decisions, common use cases and reviews by companies and developers who chose CouchDB in their tech stack.
I needed to choose a full stack of tools for cross platform mobile application design & development. After much research and trying different tools, these are what I came up with that work for me today:
For the client coding I chose Framework7 because of its performance, easy learning curve, and very well designed, beautiful UI widgets. I think it's perfect for solo development or small teams. I didn't like React Native. It felt heavy to me and rigid. Framework7 allows the use of #CSS3, which I think is the best technology to come out of the #WWW movement. No other tech has been able to allow designers and developers to develop such flexible, high performance, customisable user interface elements that are highly responsive and hardware accelerated before. Now #CSS3 includes variables and flexboxes it is truly a powerful language and there is no longer a need for preprocessors such as #SCSS / #Sass / #less. React Native contains a very limited interpretation of #CSS3 which I found very frustrating after using #CSS3 for some years already and knowing its powerful features. The other very nice feature of Framework7 is that you can even build for the browser if you want your app to be available for desktop web browsers. The latest release also includes the ability to build for #Electron so you can have MacOS, Windows and Linux desktop apps. This is not possible with React Native yet.
Framework7 runs on top of Apache Cordova. Cordova and webviews have been slated as being slow in the past. Having a game developer background I found the tweeks to make it run as smooth as silk. One of those tweeks is to use WKWebView. Another important one was using srcset on images.
I configured TypeScript to work with the latest version of Framework7. I consider TypeScript to be one of the best creations to come out of Microsoft in some time. They must have an amazing team working on it. It's very powerful and flexible. It helps you catch a lot of bugs and also provides code completion in supporting IDEs. So for my IDE I use Visual Studio Code which is a blazingly fast and silky smooth editor that integrates seamlessly with TypeScript for the ultimate type checking setup (both products are produced by Microsoft).
I use some Ruby scripts to process images with ImageMagick and pngquant to optimise for size and even auto insert responsive image code into the HTML5. Ruby is the ultimate cross platform scripting language. Even as your scripts become large, Ruby allows you to refactor your code easily and make it Object Oriented if necessary. I find it the quickest and easiest way to maintain certain aspects of my build process.
For the user interface design and prototyping I use Figma. Figma has an almost identical user interface to #Sketch but has the added advantage of being cross platform (MacOS and Windows). Its real-time collaboration features are outstanding and I use them a often as I work mostly on remote projects. Clients can collaborate in real-time and see changes I make as I make them. The clickable prototyping features in Figma are also very well designed and mean I can send clickable prototypes to clients to try user interface updates as they are made and get immediate feedback. I'm currently also evaluating the latest version of #AdobeXD as an alternative to Figma as it has the very cool auto-animate feature. It doesn't have real-time collaboration yet, but I heard it is proposed for 2019.
For the UI icons I use Font Awesome Pro. They have the largest selection and best looking icons you can find on the internet with several variations in styles so you can find most of the icons you want for standard projects.
For the backend I was using the #GraphCool Framework. As I later found out, #GraphQL still has some way to go in order to provide the full power of a mature graph query language so later in my project I ripped out #GraphCool and replaced it with CouchDB and Pouchdb. Primarily so I could provide good offline app support. CouchDB with Pouchdb is very flexible and efficient combination and overcomes some of the restrictions I found in #GraphQL and hence #GraphCool also. The most impressive and important feature of CouchDB is its replication. You can configure it in various ways for backups, fault tolerance, caching or conditional merging of databases. CouchDB and Pouchdb even supports storing, retrieving and serving binary or image data or other mime types. This removes a level of complexity usually present in database implementations where binary or image data is usually referenced through an #HTML5 link. With CouchDB and Pouchdb apps can operate offline and sync later, very efficiently, when the network connection is good.
I use PhoneGap when testing the app. It auto-reloads your app when its code is changed and you can also install it on Android phones to preview your app instantly. iOS is a bit more tricky cause of Apple's policies so it's not available on the App Store, but you can build it and install it yourself to your device.
So that's my latest mobile stack. What tools do you use? Have you tried these ones?
As a side project, I was building a note taking app that needed to synchronize between the client and the server so that it would work offline. At first I used Firebase to store the data on the server and wrote my own code to cache Firebase data in local storage and synchronize it. This was brittle and not performant. I figured that someone else must have solved this in a better way so I went looking for a better solution.
I needed a tool where I could write the data once and it would write to client and server, and when clients came back on line they would automatically catch the client up. I also needed conflict resolution. I was thrilled to discover Pouchdb and its server-side counterpart CouchDB. Together, they met nearly all of my requirements and were very easy to implement - I was able to remove a ton of custom code and have found the synchronization to be very robust. Pouchdb 7 has improved mobile support too, so I can run the app on iOS or Android browsers.
My Couchdb instance is actually a Cloudant instance running on IBM Bluemix. For my fairly low level of API usage, it's been totally free, and it has a decent GUI for managing users and replications.
We needed to find a solution how to sync data between different client technologies as iOS, Android, (mobile) Web and Desktop applications. Apart from the usual requirements such as energy efficiency on mobile devices, and smart mobile data consumption we have been focused on the evolution of data schemas with different app versions in the field. See our blog post where we describe details with code examples that made us use CouchDB in an operational environment to sync data.
Using CouchDB does require a mindset shift. You need to get the hang of its flat document store (although documents themselves can be nested #JSON documents) and map/reduce features. Once you get used to the way it works it is refreshing and light to use, very powerful, and very efficient. You are given a lot of control and power in the simplest of ways. If you're starting out with CouchDB there is it's #Mango query language (inspired by #MongoDB) that can serve as a good stepping stone into the CouchDB world from other databases. For me I prefer the raw power and control given by directly creating and querying views.
CouchDB ships with the Fauxton Admin UI which I find very simple yet very powerful and fast. You can easily create and replicate databases, create documents and views, and execute #Mango queries from within it.
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