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Apache CouchDB
Couchdb screenshot.png
CouchDB's Futon Administration Interface, User database
Original author(s) Damien Katz, Jan Lehnardt, Noah Slater, Christopher Lenz, J. Chris Anderson, Paul Davis, Adam Kocoloski, Jason Davies, Benoît Chesneau, Filipe Manana, Robert Newson
Developer(s) Apache Software Foundation
Initial release 2005
Stable release 1.6.1 / September 3, 2014 (2014-09-03)
Development status Active
Written in Erlang
Operating system Cross-platform
Type Document-oriented database
License Apache License 2.0

Apache CouchDB, commonly referred to as CouchDB, is an open source database that focuses on ease of use and on being "a database that completely embraces the Web".[1] It is a document-oriented NoSQL database that uses JSON to store data, JavaScript as its query language using MapReduce, and HTTP for an API.[1] CouchDB was first released in 2005 and later became an Apache project in 2008.

Unlike a relational database, CouchDB does not store data and relationships in tables. Instead, each database is a collection of independent documents. Each document maintains its own data and self-contained schema. An application may access multiple databases, such as one stored on a user's mobile phone and another on a server. Document metadata contains revision information, making it possible to merge any differences that may have occurred while the databases were disconnected.

CouchDB implements a form of Multi-Version Concurrency Control (MVCC) in order to avoid the need to lock the database file during writes. Conflicts are left to the application to resolve. Resolving a conflict generally involves first merging data into one of the documents, then deleting the stale one.[2]

Other features include document-level ACID semantics with eventual consistency, (incremental) MapReduce, and (incremental) replication. One of its distinguishing features is multi-master replication, which allows it to scale across machines to build high performance systems. Administration is supported with a built-in Web application called Futon.


CouchDB (Couch is an acronym for cluster of unreliable commodity hardware)[3] is a project created in April 2005 by Damien Katz, former Lotus Notes developer at IBM. Damien Katz defined it as a "storage system for a large scale object database". His objectives for the database were to become the database of the Internet and that it would be designed from the ground up to serve Web applications. He self-funded the project for almost two years and released it as an open source project under the GNU General Public License.

In February 2008, it became an Apache Incubator project and the license was changed to the Apache License.[4] A few months after, it graduated to a top-level project.[5] This led to the first stable version being released in July 2010.[6]

In early 2012, Damien Katz left the project to focus on Couchbase Server.[7]

Since Katz's departure, the Apache CouchDB project has continued, releasing 1.2 in April 2012 and 1.3 in April 2013. In July 2013, the CouchDB community merged the codebase for BigCouch, Cloudant's clustered version of CouchDB, into the Apache project. The BigCouch clustering framework is prepared to be included in an upcoming release of Apache CouchDB.[8]

Main features[edit]

ACID Semantics
CouchDB provides ACID semantics.[9] It does this by implementing a form of Multi-Version Concurrency Control, meaning that CouchDB can handle a high volume of concurrent readers and writers without conflict.
Built for Offline
CouchDB can replicate to devices (like smartphones) that can go offline and handle data sync for you when the device is back online.
Distributed Architecture with Replication
CouchDB was designed with bi-direction replication (or synchronization) and off-line operation in mind. That means multiple replicas can have their own copies of the same data, modify it, and then sync those changes at a later time.
Document Storage
CouchDB stores data as "documents", as one or more field/value pairs expressed as JSON. Field values can be simple things like strings, numbers, or dates; but ordered lists and associative arrays can also be used. Every document in a CouchDB database has a unique id and there is no required document schema.
Eventual Consistency
CouchDB guarantees eventual consistency to be able to provide both availability and partition tolerance.
Map/Reduce Views and Indexes
The stored data is structured using views. In CouchDB, each view is constructed by a JavaScript function that acts as the Map half of a map/reduce operation. The function takes a document and transforms it into a single value that it returns. CouchDB can index views and keep those indexes updated as documents are added, removed, or updated.
All items have a unique URI that gets exposed via HTTP. REST uses the HTTP methods POST, GET, PUT and DELETE for the four basic CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations on all resources.

CouchDB also offers a built-in administration interface accessible via Web called Futon.[10]

Use cases & production deployments[edit]

Replication and synchronization capabilities of CouchDB make it ideal for using it in mobile devices, where network connection is not guaranteed, but the application must keep on working offline.

CouchDB is well suited for applications with accumulating, occasionally changing data, on which pre-defined queries are to be run and where versioning is important (CRM, CMS systems, by example). Master-master replication is an especially interesting feature, allowing easy multi-site deployments.[11]

Enterprises that use CouchDB[edit]

The following is a list of notable enterprises that have used or are using CouchDB:

Data manipulation: documents and views[edit]

CouchDB manages a collection of JSON documents. The documents are organised via views. Views are defined with aggregate functions and filters are computed in parallel, much like MapReduce.

Views are generally stored in the database and their indexes updated continuously. CouchDB supports a view system using external socket servers and a JSON-based protocol.[18] As a consequence, view servers have been developed in a variety of languages (JavaScript is the default, but there are also PHP, Ruby, Python and Erlang).

Accessing data via HTTP[edit]

Applications interact with CouchDB via HTTP. The following demonstrates a few examples using cURL, a command-line utility. These examples assume that CouchDB is running on localhost ( on port 5984.

Action Request Response
Accessing server information
  "couchdb": "Welcome",
Creating a database named wiki
curl -X PUT
{"ok": true}
Attempting to create a second database named wiki
curl -X PUT
  "reason":"The database could not be created, the file already exists."
Retrieve information about the wiki database
  "db_name": "wiki",
  "doc_count": 0,
  "doc_del_count": 0,
  "update_seq": 0,
  "purge_seq": 0,
  "compact_running": false,
  "disk_size": 79,
  "instance_start_time": "1272453873691070",
  "disk_format_version": 5
Delete the database wiki
curl -X DELETE
{"ok": true}
Create a document, asking CouchDB to supply a document id
curl -X POST -H "Content-Type: application/json" --data \
'{ "text" : "Wikipedia on CouchDB", "rating": 5 }' \
  "ok": true,
  "id": "123BAC",
  "rev": "946B7D1C"

Open source components[edit]

CouchDB includes a number of other open source projects as part of its default package.

Component Description License
Erlang Erlang is a general-purpose concurrent programming language and runtime system. The sequential subset of Erlang is a functional language, with strict evaluation, single assignment, and dynamic typing. Modified MPL 1.0, Apache License 2.0 (Release 18.0 and later)
ICU International Components for Unicode (ICU) is an open source project of mature C/C++ and Java libraries for Unicode support, software internationalization and software globalization. ICU is widely portable to many operating systems and environments.
jQuery jQuery is a lightweight cross-browser JavaScript library that emphasizes interaction between JavaScript and HTML. Dual license: GPL and MIT MIT License
OpenSSL OpenSSL is an open source implementation of the SSL and TLS protocols. The core library (written in the C programming language) implements the basic cryptographic functions and provides various utility functions. Apache-like unique
SpiderMonkey SpiderMonkey is a code name for the first ever JavaScript engine, written by Brendan Eich at Netscape Communications, later released as open source and now maintained by the Mozilla Foundation. MPL

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Apache Software Foundation. "Apache CouchDB". Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Smith, Jason. "What is the CouchDB replication protocol? Is it like Git?". StackOverflow. Stack Exchange. Retrieved 14 April 2012. 
  3. ^ Exploring CouchDB, article from IBM Developer Works
  4. ^ Apache mailing list announcement on
  5. ^ Re: Proposed Resolution: Establish CouchDB TLP on
  6. ^ "CouchDB NoSQL Database Ready for Production Use", article from PC World of July 2010
  7. ^ Katz, Damien. "The future of CouchDB". Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  8. ^ Slater, Noah. "Welcome BigCouch". Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  9. ^ CouchDB, Technical Overview
  10. ^ "Welcome to Futon" from "CouchDB The Definitive Guide"
  11. ^ Cassandra vs MongoDB vs CouchDB vs Redis vs Riak vs HBase comparison from Kristóf Kovács
  12. ^ "CouchDB in the wild" article of the product's Web, a list of software projects and websites using CouchDB
  13. ^ Cutler, Kim-Mai (9 June 2012). "Meebo Gets The Classic Google Acq-hire Treatment: Most Products To Shut Down Soon". TechCrunch. AOL Inc. Retrieved 7 January 2016. 
  14. ^ "npm-registry-couchapp". GitHub. npm. 17 June 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2016. 
  15. ^ CouchDB at the BBC as a fault tolerant, scalable, multi-data center key-value store
  16. ^ Email from Elliot Murphy (Canonical) to the CouchDB-Devel list
  17. ^ Canonical Drops CouchDB From Ubuntu One (Slashdot)
  18. ^ View Server Documentation on


External links[edit]