The Future of CouchDB

What's the future of CouchDB? It's Couchbase.

Huh? So what about Apache CouchDB? Well, that's a great project. I founded it, coded the earliest versions almost completely myself, I've spent a huge amount of blood, sweat and tears on it. I'm very proud of it and the impact it's had. And now I, and the Couchbase team, are mostly moving on. It's not that we think CouchDB isn't awesome. It's that we are creating the successor to it: Couchbase Server. A product and project with similar capabilities and goals, but more faster, more scalable, more customer and developer focused. And definitely not part of Apache.

With Apache CouchDB, much of the focus has been around creating a consensus based, developer community that helps govern and move the project forward. Apache has done, and is doing a good job of that. But for us, it's no longer enough. CouchDB was something I created because I thought an easy to use, peer based, replicating document store was something the world would find useful. And it proved a lot of the ideas were possible and useful and it's been successful beyond my wildest ambitions. But if I had it all to do again, I'd do many things different.

If it sounds like I'm saying Apache was a mistake, I'm not. Apache was a big part in the success of CouchDB, without it CouchDB would not have enjoyed the early success it did. But in my opinion it's reached a point where the consensus based approach has limited the competitiveness of the project. It's not personal, it's business.

And now, as it turns out, I have a chance to do it all again, without the pain of starting from scratch. Building on the previous Apache CouchDB and Membase projects, throwing out what didn't work, and strengthening what does, and advancing great technologies to make something that is developer friendly, high performance, designed for mission critical deployment and mobile integration, and can move faster and more responsively to users and customers needs than a community based project.

Apache CouchDB, as project and community, is in fine shape. And many of us at Couchbase are still contributing back to it. But the future, the one I'm pushing forward on, is Couchbase Server.

And what is my part in building Couchbase? Right now I'm focusing on getting Couchbase 2.0 ready for serious production use. I'm once again an engineer and coder, back in the trenches, designing and writing code, reviewing code and designs, helping other engineers and solving tough problems. And I'm dead serious about making it the easiest, fastest and most reliable NoSQL database. Easy for developers to use, easy to deploy, reliable on single machines or large clusters, and fast as hell. We are building something you can put your mission critical, customer facing business data on, and not feel like you're running a dirty hack.

Soon, to work more closely with the team (and get rid of my nasty Oakland commute), I'll be relocating my family to the Mountain View area. Shit just got real!

And I'm really excited about the work we've got in the pipeline. We are moving more and more of the core database in C/C++, while still using many of the concurrency and reliability design principles we've proven with the Erlang codebase. And Erlang is still going to be part of the product as well, particularly with cluster management, but most of the performance sensitive portions will be moving to over C code. Erlang is still a great language, but when you need top performance and low level control, C is hard to beat.

Anyway, there so much to talk about, to much for one blog post. One of my New Years resolutions is to blog more, and I've got a ton of interesting things to talk about. The trials of tribulations of building a startup and an engineering culture. What's wrong (and right) with Erlang. Bringing forth UnQL. TouchDB for Mobile. And yes, we'll still interoperate with Apache CouchDB and Memcached. But the future is Couchbase.

Ride with me.


As J. Chris Anderson notes in the comments, Couchbase is completely open source and Apache licensed:

Everything Couchbase does is open source, we have 2 github pages that are very active:

Probably the most fun place to jump into development is the code review:

Let me clarify, if you like Apache CouchDB, stick with it. I'm working on something I think you'll like a lot better. If not, well, there's still Apache CouchDB.

Posted January 4, 2012 11:14 PM