Building A New Foundation For CouchDB


March 16th, 2020

55 mins 25 secs

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About this Episode


CouchDB is a distributed document database built for scale and ease of operation. With a built-in synchronization protocol and a HTTP interface it has become popular as a backend for web and mobile applications. Created 15 years ago, it has accrued some technical debt which is being addressed with a refactored architecture based on FoundationDB. In this episode Adam Kocoloski shares the history of the project, how it works under the hood, and how the new design will improve the project for our new era of computation. This was an interesting conversation about the challenges of maintaining a large and mission critical project and the work being done to evolve it.


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  • Your host is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Adam Kocoloski about CouchDB and the work being done to migrate the storage layer to FoundationDB


  • Introduction
  • How did you get involved in the area of data management?
  • Can you starty by describing what CouchDB is?
    • How did you get involved in the CouchDB project and what is your current role in the community?
  • What are the use cases that it is well suited for?
  • Can you share some of the history of CouchDB and its role in the NoSQL movement?
  • How is CouchDB currently architected and how has it evolved since it was first introduced?
  • What have been the benefits and challenges of Erlang as the runtime for CouchDB?
  • How is the current storage engine implemented and what are its shortcomings?
  • What problems are you trying to solve by replatforming on a new storage layer?
    • What were the selection criteria for the new storage engine and how did you structure the decision making process?
    • What was the motivation for choosing FoundationDB as opposed to other options such as rocksDB, levelDB, etc.?
  • How is the adoption of FoundationDB going to impact the overall architecture and implementation of CouchDB?
  • How will the use of FoundationDB impact the way that the current capabilities are implemented, such as data replication?
  • What will the migration path be for people running an existing installation?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges that you are facing in rearchitecting the codebase?
  • What new capabilities will the FoundationDB storage layer enable?
  • What are some of the most interesting/unexpected/innovative ways that you have seen CouchDB used?
    • What new capabilities or use cases do you anticipate once this migration is complete?
  • What are some of the most interesting/unexpected/challenging lessons that you have learned while working with the CouchDB project and community?
  • What is in store for the future of CouchDB?

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Parting Question

  • From your perspective, what is the biggest gap in the tooling or technology for data management today?


The intro and outro music is from The Hug by The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

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