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    Note that this book dates from the early ‘90s. (I couldn’t find a copyright date, but the introduction says

    A forthcoming book on active database systems is [DW94]

    and I didn’t see any reference in the bibliography dated later than 1992.

    This would explain why there are no references to non-relational (“NoSQL”) databases…

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      This would explain why there are no references to non-relational (“NoSQL”) databases…

      There were NoSQL databases in use then, but most were legacy. Think MUMPS (used widely in healthcare… now YottaDB rebrands it as a hip new NoSQL database!), hierarchical pre-System R databases on mainframes, and Pick/MultiValue “lol arrays in SQL”. More mainstream back then would be Domino (replicated document database… yes, that Domino) and dBase (flat).

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        What’s your exposure to MUMPS? My dad has worked with MUMPS in healthcare programming for the last twenty years. I learned the MUMPS REPL as a kid and my first programming internship was at a company my dad used to work for where I learned more MUMPS.

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          I know someone who writes MUMPS for a living in the healthcare industry; that, and if you play with old DEC stuff, they have a very robust MUMPS implementation available. Heck, VistA is public domain, if you want such an example!

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          Domino was Lotus Notes, right? Notes was a huge influence on CouchDB.

          I know there were databases prior to the relational/SQL wave, but my impression is that after SQL took over they were relegated to the dustbin of history for a while … until web developers and proto-big-data analysts got fed up trying to make MySQL scale and began (re)inventing distributable systems like memcached.

          (And yeah, I work at Couchbase, which has considerable DNA from both CouchDB and memcached.)

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            Time again to share this epic tale of Damian Katz rewriting Lotus Notes’ Formula engine:

            http://damienkatz.net/2005/01/formula-engine-rewrite.html

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          This would explain why there are no references to non-relational (“NoSQL”) databases

          Distributed systems aside there’s not a ton of innovation in most “NoSQL” from an implementer’s perspective. One might argue that they’re making different/better tradeoffs but it’s hard to distinguish that from immaturity from the outside.

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            I think you’ve got it backwards: there’s not a ton of novel theory behind a lot of NoSQL, but plenty of interesting implementation to make them fast and scalable.

            ( “distributed systems aside” is a very big aside. :)

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              but plenty of interesting implementation to make them fast and scalable

              They’re interesting case studies, sure, and their relative naïveté can make them easier to grok in a lot of cases. But there’s nothing fundamentally “fast” or “scalable” about throwing out SQL - it’s mostly different points in the design space.

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                Um. Do you have an ax to grind here? Your tone is coming off as kind of db-theory hipster.

                NoSQL is an problematic name, of course, because it isn’t actually about SQL, it’s about non-relational. Several “NoSQL” databases support variants of SQL. What’s more important are things like eventual consistency, partition tolerance, flexible schemas, etc.

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          N.B.: This is the well-known “Alice” book, and it’s still a useful reference for a lot of fundamentals. I usually recommend Gray for this sort of thing, though, and only when folks have already consumed the latest Red Book.

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            I have never managed to read this book. Only skimmed through parts of it. I know however, of a person that has read it twice (in the 90s). And they have my total admiration for that.