So, in lieu of anything particularly insightful or original, I’ve decided to write some book reviews. I spend a fortune on books, half of which I never get around to reading. I’m hoping that creating a self imposed obligation to write book reviews will help me clear the backlog, and that the reviews might be useful to anyone thinking about making a purchase. And if they’re not, well, at least my blog gets some SEO fodder.
Book Review: MongoDB in Action
MongoDB in Action is a comprehensive guide to MongoDB for application developers. The book begins by explaining what makes MongoDB unique and describing its ideal use cases. A series of tutorials designed for MongoDB mastery then leads into detailed examples for leveraging MongoDB in e-commerce, social networking, analytics, and other common applications.
I was tinkering with a Node.js application over Christmas, and arrived at a point where I needed to implement a database into my app. MongoDB seems to be the DBMS of choice for Node developers, so I bought MongoDB in Action to learn a bit more about it.
I wanted a book that would get me through the introductory content fast, and would enable me to be productive in as short a time as possible. Thankfully, the author had similar goals in mind when writing the book, and split the book up into three parts: Getting Started; Application Development in MongoDB; and MongoDB Mastery.
Part Three covers advanced topics; it is aimed at anyone who might have a hand in database administration. This section covers replication, sharding, and hardware setup, in addition to indexing and query performance optimisation techniques. As a NoSQL novice building relatively small web applications, scale doesn’t feature highly on my list of priorities. However, I enjoyed learning about the problems that normalised data models face when scaling (it seems like the best you can do is stick Memcached in front of the database and upgrade your hardware), and the advantages of a denormalised data model (horizontal scaling) in this regard. I also enjoyed the section on indexing and performance optimisation; the discussion of the need for efficient indices, and how redundant indices can significantly hamper query performance was particularly instructive.
The book is well organised – I didn’t feel the need to read parts out of order to make sense of things. Chapters Five and Six were my favourite chapters: they explain the nuts and bolts of MongoDB, and quickly get you building a real-world, practical application. They were particularly instructive on how to implement CRUD functionality, and the design patterns provided continue to be useful.
The author set out to create a book that would take a developer from being a MongoDB novice, to being a “master” of MongoDB. After reading the book, I wouldn’t exactly call myself a master, but I’m certainly confident enough now to use MongoDB now in my applications, without worrying whether I might’ve been better off using MySQL.