I very much like Curt Monash’s posts on dynamic schemas and schema-on-need… here and here are two examples. They make me think… But I am missing something… I mean that sincerely not just as a setup for a critical review. Let’s consider how dynamism is implemented here and there…so that I can ask a question of the audience.

First imagine a simple unschema’d row:

Rob KloppDatabase Fog Bloghttps://robklopp.wordpress.com42

A human with some context could see that there is a name string, a title string, a URL string, and an integer string. If you have the right context you would recognize that the integer holds the answer to the question: “What is the meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything?”… see here… otherwise you are lost as to the meaning.

If you load this row into a relational database you could leave the schema out and load a string of 57 characters… or load the data parsed into a schema with Name, Title, URL, Answer. If you load this row into a key-value pair you can load it into an unschema’d row with the Key = Row and the Value equal to the string… or parse the data into four key-value pairs.

In any case you have to parse the data… If you store the data in an unschema’d format you have to parse the data and bind value to keys to columns late… if you store the data parsed then this step is unnecessary. To bind the data late in SQL you might create a view from your program… or more likely you would name the values parsed with SQL string functions. To parse the data into key-value pairs you must do the equivalent. The same logic holds true for more complex parsing. A graph database can store keys, values, and relationships… but these facets have to be known and teased out of the data either early or late. An RDBMS can do the same.

So what is the benefit of a database product that proclaims late binding as an advantage? Is it that late binding is easier to do than in an RDBMS? What am I missing?

Please do not respond with a list of other features provided by NewSQL and NoSQL databases… I understand many of the trade-offs… what I want to know is:

  • What can they do connected to binding values to names that an RDBMS cannot? And if there is no new functionality…
  • Is there someway they allow for binding that is significantly easier?

By the way, the Hitchhiker’s Guide is silent on the question of whether 42 is a constant or ever-changing. I think that I’ll ask Watson.