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From Dale Wiles <>
Subject Re: "Personal" Couch DB.
Date Thu, 25 Jun 2009 04:25:54 GMT

"]" is Wojciech Kaczmarek <>
    on Wed, 24 Jun 2009 18:03:12 +0200

] On Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 04:17, Dale Wiles ">" wrote:

] Replication and distribution is where CouchDB really shines and it's not
] scary at all :). It's good especially for business because you can save
] lots of money this way, and many people recognize this value, I'd
] guess much more

The advantages of replication and distribution are obvious from a business
sense.  That's not the target of the mythical "Personal" CouchDB.

] than 10% of users "out there" (btw, define "out there" -- who's the target

I'm glad you asked :0).

My target is my Dad.  Maybe your parents too.

He's a "clever" user.  Not a l33t haxor, but if he gets interested he'll
poke around in a program and make it do interesting things.  I think
clever users are under served in the computer world.

Most databases that people use are "casual" databases.  They tend to be
small, cobbled together and edited by one person.  "Who's turn is it to
buy bagles?  Let me check my list."  Cobble Cobble Cobble.

The most popular database out there is either the text file or a *shudder*
the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.  Most businesses are up to their eyeballs
in them, and they all email them to me.  Even tho they're rotten fits for
the problems, often they're much better fits than the hard core databases
out there.

Anyone can open a blank spreadsheet, force a problem into a bunch of
overly long rows, get no insight into the data, and then save the file.
The data is sitting right there in front of them.  If they want to
replicate the data, they drag it onto a USB fob or email it to Google.
They can then take the spreadsheet to any other computer (because
*everyone* uses their version of Excel (Oy!)).  If they find another
Windows box then they have access to the data.

] While the http interface is a Good Thing to have these days and it
] attracts lots of people, it's not what makes this database different.

What makes it interesting from my perspective is that the data isn't in
scary SQL tables, but in a more normal format that my Dad, or even, dare I
say it, my manager can understand.  However, getting a manager to move from
a safe, pain in the butt spreadsheet to a server based database is a much
bigger step than going from a file based spreadsheet to file based DB.

] My point is that if you have a good hammer then everything looks like a
] nail.

Misapplied that's also called "Dancing in the Turing tar pit."  Everything
is possible, but nothing is interesting.  (Stolen from Alan Perlis.)

I'm not really interested in solving an address list for myself, I've
pretty much got that one beat.  I, personally, play with everything from
Postgress to a 2 line Dump/Eval Perl database.  It's the upside of being a

What I'm looking for, in this context, is a database that someone who's
clever could use to do things like plan a birthday party or wedding.

SQLite is cool for me, but my Dad isn't going to even try to learn SQL and
database normalizing no matter how useful it is in the long run. This
facet of CouchDB is a major plus.  It's one of the reasons that I'm
interested in it.

] But maybe for address list and other simple structured data the
] easiest way to go is using yaml files or sth?

If I want a hacky database I just write nested Perl hashes and eval the
file in.  Works for me, but not really useful in the general sense.

] Which subset of features would you like to see in such serverless
] product?

Everything that it already has, with the exception of anything dies in the
night or moves the data off of that file on my Dad's desk top.  Curse you
zombie robot uprising!

] Maybe it would narrow down to something which exists already?

If you have any favorites that fit the bill, let me know.  I'm a blogger
( as you may have gathered from this
pontificating reply and I'm currently gathering data points for a blog
post tentatively titled "My Dad Married a Data Base from Open Source."  I
live for titles like that!

] > I think a *lot* of potential casual database users would be interested in
] > no hassle/no mystery version of CouchDB they could play with.  It's
] > something to think about.

] IMO CouchDB is no mystery already. Exceptionally easy to configure and
] very well documented.

Your lovable Aunt Gurtrude begs to differ.

Pop writes a DB.  How does get it off his computer and over Gurtie's?
Remember, Gurtie is currently chucking rocks in Iran, so no replicating
across the Internet tubes.  It's going to have to be air dropped in.

] Excuse my skeptic tone,

No problem.

] but I'm raising this because you just can't please everyone.

I agree.  But sometimes you can kill two birds with one stone, and as I
said before, I think the single author database is a huge, mostly untapped

As for CouchDb, I have no idea if a serverless, file on the desk top based
version is practical, trivial or absurd.  Why guess when you can ask?

- Dale

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