Couchbase vs RethinkDB

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Couchbase vs RethinkDB: What are the differences?

What is Couchbase? Document-Oriented NoSQL Database. Developed as an alternative to traditionally inflexible SQL databases, the Couchbase NoSQL database is built on an open source foundation and architected to help developers solve real-world problems and meet high scalability demands.

What is RethinkDB? JSON. Scales to multiple machines with very little effort. Open source. RethinkDB is built to store JSON documents, and scale to multiple machines with very little effort. It has a pleasant query language that supports really useful queries like table joins and group by, and is easy to setup and learn.

Couchbase and RethinkDB can be primarily classified as "Databases" tools.

Some of the features offered by Couchbase are:

  • JSON document database
  • N1QL (SQL-like query language)
  • Secondary Indexing

On the other hand, RethinkDB provides the following key features:

  • JSON data model and immediate consistency.
  • Distributed joins, subqueries, aggregation, atomic updates.
  • Secondary, compound, and arbitrarily computed indexes.

"Flexible data model, easy scalability, extremely fast" is the top reason why over 13 developers like Couchbase, while over 46 developers mention "Powerful query language" as the leading cause for choosing RethinkDB.

RethinkDB is an open source tool with 22.3K GitHub stars and 1.73K GitHub forks. Here's a link to RethinkDB's open source repository on GitHub.

According to the StackShare community, Couchbase has a broader approval, being mentioned in 45 company stacks & 20 developers stacks; compared to RethinkDB, which is listed in 37 company stacks and 25 developer stacks.

Advice on Couchbase and RethinkDB
Ilias Mentzelos
Software Engineer at Plum Fintech · | 9 upvotes · 36.1K views
Needs advice

Hey, we want to build a referral campaign mechanism that will probably contain millions of records within the next few years. We want fast read access based on IDs or some indexes, and isolation is crucial as some listeners will try to update the same document at the same time. What's your suggestion between Couchbase and MongoDB? Thanks!

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Replies (2)
Jon Clarke
Enterprise Account Exec at ScyllaDB · | 4 upvotes · 22.2K views

I am biased (work for Scylla) but it sounds like a KV/wide column would be better in this use case. Document/schema free/lite DBs data stores are easier to get up and running on but are not as scalable (generally) as NoSQL flavors that require a more rigid data model like ScyllaDB. If your data volumes are going to be 10s of TB and transactions per sec 10s of 1000s (or more), look at Scylla. We have something called lightweight transactions (LWT) that can get you consistency.

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I have found MongoDB highly consistent and highly available. It suits your needs. We usually trade off partion tolerance fot this. Having said that, I am little biased in recommendation as I haven't had much experience with couchbase on production.

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Needs advice

We Have thousands of .pdf docs generated from the same form but with lots of variability. We need to extract data from open text and more important - from tables inside the docs. The output of Couchbase/Mongo will be one row per document for backend processing. ADOBE renders the tables in an unusable form.

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Replies (3)
Petr Havlicek
Freelancer at · | 12 upvotes · 34.6K views

I prefer MongoDB due to own experience with migration of old archive of pdf and meta-data to a new “archive”. The biggest advantage is speed of filters output - a new archive is way faster and reliable then the old one - but also the the easy programming of MongoDB with many code snippets and examples available. I have no personal experience so far with Couchbase. From the architecture point of view both options are OK - go for the one you like.

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Ivan Begtin
Director - NGO "Informational Culture" / Ambassador - OKFN Russia at Infoculture · | 7 upvotes · 34.6K views

I would like to suggest MongoDB or ArangoDB (can't choose both, so ArangoDB). MongoDB is more mature, but ArangoDB is more interesting if you will need to bring graph database ideas to solution. For example if some data or some documents are interlinked, then probably ArangoDB is a best solution.

To process tables we used Abbyy software stack. It's great on table extraction.

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OtkudznamDamir Radinović-Lukić

If you can select text with mouse drag in PDF. Use pdftotext it is fast! You can install it on server with command "apt-get install poppler-utils". Use it like "pdftotext -layout /path-to-your-file". In same folder it will make text file with line by line content. There is few classes on git stacks that you can use, also.

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Decisions about Couchbase and RethinkDB
Gabriel Pa

After using couchbase for over 4 years, we migrated to MongoDB and that was the best decision ever! I'm very disappointed with Couchbase's technical performance. Even though we received enterprise support and were a listed Couchbase Partner, the experience was horrible. With every contact, the sales team was trying to get me on a $7k+ license for access to features all other open source NoSQL databases get for free.

Here's why you should not use Couchbase

Full-text search Queries The full-text search often returns a different number of results if you run the same query multiple types

N1QL queries Configuring the indexes correctly is next to impossible. It's poorly documented and nobody seems to know what to do, even the Couchbase support engineers have no clue what they are doing.

Community support I posted several problems on the forum and I never once received a useful answer

Enterprise support It's very expensive. $7k+. The team constantly tried to get me to buy even though the community edition wasn't working great

Autonomous Operator It's actually just a poorly configured Kubernetes role that no matter what I did, I couldn't get it to work. The support team was useless. Same lack of documentation. If you do get it to work, you need 6 servers at least to meet their minimum requirements.

Couchbase cloud Typical for Couchbase, the user experience is awful and I could never get it to work.

Minimum requirements The minimum requirements in production are 6 servers. On AWS the calculated monthly cost would be ~$600. We achieved better performance using a $16 MongoDB instance on the Mongo Atlas Cloud

writing queries is a nightmare While N1QL is similar to SQL and it's easier to write because of the familiarity, that isn't entirely true. The "smart index" that Couchbase advertises is not smart at all. Creating an index with 5 fields, and only using 4 of them won't result in Couchbase using the same index, so you have to create a new one.

Couchbase UI The UI that comes with every database deployment is full of bugs, barely functional and the developer experience is poor. When I asked Couchbase about it, they basically said they don't care because real developers use SQL directly from code

Consumes too much RAM Couchbase is shipped with a smaller Memcached instance to handle the in-memory cache. Memcached ends up using 8 GB of RAM for 5000 documents! I'm not kidding! We had less than 5000 docs on a Couchbase instance and less than 20 indexes and RAM consumption was always over 8 GB

Memory allocations are useless I asked the Couchbase team a question: If a bucket has 1 GB allocated, what happens when I have more than 1GB stored? Does it overflow? Does it cache somewhere? Do I get an error? I always received the same answer: If you buy the Couchbase enterprise then we can guide you.

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 This was roughly 4 years ago at this point. We had been using an old iteration of memcache on Windows as the data cache per server for while and had for whatever reason opted to store our session data (to which the application is heavily dependent) in App Fabric. App Fabric had come to EOL and we needed to move away from it. As a quick search showed throughput capacity to be higher and overall features of Redis were better we initially implemented it. The number of changes required were minimal and we were able to migrate away to a more resilient system pretty quickly.
 We hit a snag in that the implementation of the Redis session handler at that point only took a single IP so we had to do use keepalived and HAProxy to display the application consistently between master and slave failovers. This caused issues on occasion of dropped connections to the backend service. We upgraded our client and could put both members into our config files and it stopped timing out. We were all happy in this and it was (for it's own part) a significant upgrade. Generally performance was better for all pages. 
 We found however, that our application was serializing all requests and locking on the thread via session lock for a great many things and this caused us and our users considerable headaches on occasion. We found that the implementation of the couchbase session handler gave us the option of ignoring session write locks and not be required to rewrite dozens of pages to handle the no session requirement as the application was working fine without the need to be threadsafe. Though the maximum throughput was not as good compared to Redis the application performance was considerably better as a result of the change. The multi-master write was a big benefit and the cross data center replication was a nice thing to have as that would allow our users to remain logged in even across DataCenter fail-over events (praying that never happened). Overall we used that for session handling and chose to use couchbase (in a 2nd cluster) to handle memcache requests as that gave us greater capacity to handle larger objects more efficiently. 
 We are, all these years later, looking to move into the newer features of couchbase to give us more and better use of this product that really has been the answer to a bunch of the growing pains we experienced. Since the decision performance has not been on wild rides and stability has never been better. So I sing the praises of couchbase to anyone that will listen.
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Gabriel Pa

We implemented our first large scale EPR application from using CouchDB .

Very fast, replication works great, doesn't consume much RAM, queries are blazing fast but we found a problem: the queries were very hard to write, it took a long time to figure out the API, we had to go and write our own @nodejs library to make it work properly.

It lost most of its support. Since then, we migrated to Couchbase and the learning curve was steep but all worth it. Memcached indexing out of the box, full text search works great.

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Pros of Couchbase
Pros of RethinkDB
  • 18
    High performance
  • 17
    Flexible data model, easy scalability, extremely fast
  • 8
    Mobile app support
  • 6
    You can query it with Ansi-92 SQL
  • 5
    All nodes can be read/write
  • 4
    Local cache capability
  • 4
    Open source, community and enterprise editions
  • 4
    Both a key-value store and document (JSON) db
  • 4
    Equal nodes in cluster, allowing fast, flexible changes
  • 3
    Automatic configuration of sharding
  • 3
    SDKs in popular programming languages
  • 3
    Elasticsearch connector
  • 3
    Easy setup
  • 3
    Web based management, query and monitoring panel
  • 3
    Linearly scalable, useful to large number of tps
  • 3
    Easy cluster administration
  • 3
    Cross data center replication
  • 2
  • 2
    DBaaS available
  • 2
    Map reduce views
  • 1
    FTS + SQL together
  • 1
    Buckets, Scopes, Collections & Documents
  • 48
    Powerful query language
  • 46
    Excellent dashboard
  • 42
  • 41
    Distributed database
  • 38
    Open source
  • 25
  • 16
    Atomic updates
  • 15
  • 9
    MVCC concurrency
  • 9
    Hadoop-style map/reduce
  • 4
    Geospatial support
  • 4
    Real-time, open-source, scalable
  • 2
    Great Admin UI
  • 2
    A NoSQL DB with joins
  • 2
    YC Company
  • 2
    Fast, easily scalable, great customer support
  • 2
    Changefeeds: no polling needed to get updates

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Cons of Couchbase
Cons of RethinkDB
  • 3
    Terrible query language
    Be the first to leave a con

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    - No public GitHub repository available -

    What is Couchbase?

    Developed as an alternative to traditionally inflexible SQL databases, the Couchbase NoSQL database is built on an open source foundation and architected to help developers solve real-world problems and meet high scalability demands.

    What is RethinkDB?

    RethinkDB is built to store JSON documents, and scale to multiple machines with very little effort. It has a pleasant query language that supports really useful queries like table joins and group by, and is easy to setup and learn.

    Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

    What companies use Couchbase?
    What companies use RethinkDB?
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    What tools integrate with Couchbase?
    What tools integrate with RethinkDB?

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    What are some alternatives to Couchbase and RethinkDB?
    MongoDB stores data in JSON-like documents that can vary in structure, offering a dynamic, flexible schema. MongoDB was also designed for high availability and scalability, with built-in replication and auto-sharding.
    Apache CouchDB is a database that uses JSON for documents, JavaScript for MapReduce indexes, and regular HTTP for its API. CouchDB is a database that completely embraces the web. Store your data with JSON documents. Access your documents and query your indexes with your web browser, via HTTP. Index, combine, and transform your documents with JavaScript.
    Partitioning means that Cassandra can distribute your data across multiple machines in an application-transparent matter. Cassandra will automatically repartition as machines are added and removed from the cluster. Row store means that like relational databases, Cassandra organizes data by rows and columns. The Cassandra Query Language (CQL) is a close relative of SQL.
    Redis is an open source, BSD licensed, advanced key-value store. It is often referred to as a data structure server since keys can contain strings, hashes, lists, sets and sorted sets.
    Apache HBase is an open-source, distributed, versioned, column-oriented store modeled after Google' Bigtable: A Distributed Storage System for Structured Data by Chang et al. Just as Bigtable leverages the distributed data storage provided by the Google File System, HBase provides Bigtable-like capabilities on top of Apache Hadoop.
    See all alternatives