I have been avoiding the NoSQL movement for years. Partly because I felt I didn’t really understand SQL Db’s yet and partly because NoSQL DB’s seemed to live in the scary world of *nix’s operating systems. Five months ago I decided I needed to change my attitude and get a proper understanding of NoSQL Db’s. It was time to get my feet wet.
I chose Seven Databases in Seven Weeks as the book to work through because I love the pragmatic bookshelf style of books (they are hands on and well… pragmatic), and I was willing to make an hour or so available each day for 7 weeks (7 weeks seems so doable).
Eric starts off in the beginning of the book by telling you what it wasn’t going to be - one of the big things it wasn’t going to be was an installation manual - each database starts off with the assumption that you have installed it and it is up and running (yes, he does give a few tips, but really you are left to figure it out). This was the first big challenge for me. It took me several weeks to figure out how to download the source for Riaak, build it and run it off Ubuntu (and I’m a better man for it). I struggled getting Gremlin to work with Neo4J and HBase was also hard work.
The actual format of the book works in 3 day stints. Each database has 3 chapters, one for each day. Day One is the basics, Day Two is usually a little more challenging and Day Three hits some of the unique aspects of that particular DB. I found each day took me substantially more than an hour to complete (he might have actually meant real days!). Several of the sections it was quite apparent that Eric was not “holding your hand” but had made a conceptual leap.
In general I found this book challenging BUT it was the same type of challenging I had when learning VIM - addictively challenging.
Five months later I have finally completed the book. I have a basic understanding of Relational, Document, Graph & Key Value Data Stores - enough to know where to focus my energy given a certain problem. I am a lot more competent in Linux and getting things installed. I have learn’t quite a bit and feel like I do when finishing a running race - tired but satisfied. I would definitely recommend this to anyone wanting a deeper understanding of modern databases, but I would warn you it will probably take you longer than 7 weeks and that’s ok.
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