Smart Databases : RethinkDB

I started playing with RethinkDB and it is very interesting and definitely worth a look.

Lets start with a typical example in applications for example the client table. The client table can get modified via UI or SalesForce or by hand or any number of ways. Hence any app cannot just read this table once and keep it in cache, we have to constantly pool to get changes.

This is very frustrating, cause this table rarely changes but if it does change we need to know about the change immediately, so far we have relied on polling or the system that makes the change inform other systems so that they can blow there local cache.

But with RethinkDB it changes all that.

RethinkDB is like a smart database, your client can listen for table changes and whenever that particular table changes the database itself will notify any clients that the table has changed and on top of it will tell you the old and new values.

This is almost revolutionary, (yes I know you can do this in mysql by installing the JDBC driver and a trigger that listens on the table and the trigger can inform other apps but it is way too complicated and good luck getting your ops to install it), but RethinkDB does it for you OUT OF THE BOX. And they now have an awesome JDK driver.

Just awesome sauce.


Recently I have heard a lot about Redis, so I decided to try it out. But first a little intro about Redis. “Redis is a database. To be specific, Redis is a database implementing a dictionary, where every key is associated with a value.” .

Think about Redis as memcache on steroids, Redis extends the basic key/value store paradigm by letting you have values of a certain type and defines operations that are unique to each type.

For example Redis lets you associate a key with a list and then lets you do list specific operations.

lpush mylist 1 --adds 1 to mylist
lpush mylist 2
llen mylist --returns the length of mylist

By the way if you just want to try out Redis without having to download and install, then check out this link.

Supported types are Lists, Sets, Sorted Sets and Strings. Below are some interesting operations (to see the entire list go to this link).

  • Adding elements to either the head or tail of a list.
  • Pop the fist element atomically (very lispy)
  • Union two sets.
  • Sorted Sets are sorted by score that you provide. It also uses the score when inserting new elements.

Redis also persists data by writing to the desk asynchronously this way you can have your entire application just use Redis without the need to have a separate database.

Here is a simple example using Redis

  • Download Redis “wget”.
  • Extract Redis and run ‘make’ in the directory.
  • Run the Redis server ‘./redis-server redis.conf ‘
  • Now you can start playing with the server using redis-cli, try the following

    ./redis-cli set name devender
    ./redis-cli get name