Couchbase releases commercial implementation of SQL++ with N1QL for analytics

Couchbase Inc., announced Thursday launch of N1QL for Analytics, its commercial query language implementation compatible with the SQL++ language framework. SQL++ specifies how to create principled, next generation query languages that bring together the full power of SQL with the flexibility of JSON, helping advance the adoption of document-oriented data and the JSON data format.

The development of the SQL++ framework began nearly a decade ago as UC San Diego’s NSF-funded FORWARD project with subsequent contributions and funding from Couchbase and Informatica, and support from UC Irvine and UC Riverside.

The road to SQL++ began nearly a decade ago when the limitations of SQL, the most common database query language, were realized, as SQL does not provide a complete and efficient solution for querying JSON or semi-structured data in JSON form.

Semi-structured data accounts for 85 percent of all business data and will continue to grow as machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) gain momentum.

To address this gap, Couchbase developed N1QL to provide a comprehensive query language that combines the query power of SQL with the flexibility of JSON data, while independently, UC San Diego’s Computer Science and Engineering Professor, Yannis Papakonstantinou, and his team developed SQL++, a formally-defined, declarative language framework for semi-structured data, specifying a range of possibilities for future languages.

Also contributing to the advancement of SQL++ was the NSF-funded AsterixDB project with contributions from UC Irvine and UC Riverside, led by UCI professor Mike Carey. AsterixDB initially had its own query language, AQL, but has now embraced SQL++.

As a key commercial implementation of the SQL++ framework, Couchbase N1QL for Analytics serves as the query language for the new Analytics Service that was also announced Thursday as part of the latest release of the Couchbase Data Platform.

As a language deriving from SQL++, Couchbase N1QL for Analytics is easy to learn, especially for developers who are familiar with the syntax of SQL due to the similarities. With developers not having to “learn from scratch,” adoption of semi-structured and NoSQL databases by enterprises with existing investments in relational systems becomes a much simpler process.

“With the SQL++ framework you can make a declarative query language that queries semistructured data, like JSON, while drawing on SQL,” said Yannis Papakonstantinou, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, UC San Diego. “Couchbase N1QL for Analytics aligns with the SQL++ framework and the requirements of querying semi-structured data. It is a query language for the new era of big data, because it operates on semi-structured data but is fully declarative, as SQL is, giving you the best of both worlds.”

“It’s been very exciting to be part of the community that has been driving the future language of the NoSQL world, and it’s equally exciting to see the fruits of those efforts – especially with the first commercial implementation of SQL++ being derived from the Apache AsterixDB query engine,” said Mike Carey, Bren Professor, UC Irvine. “Since the turn of the millennium, enterprises have been asking for declarative queries on semi-structured data. And today, it’s here.”

“We started the journey to develop a SQL for JSON some four years ago. Our mission was to not develop yet another query language, but preserve and advance one of the most important contributions of the relational systems: SQL for flexible data model in JSON,” said Ravi Mayuram, SVP of Engineering and CTO, Couchbase. “We called it N1QL, which is short for non-1st normal form query language – essentially for JSON. Hundreds of enterprises have developed mission critical apps using N1QL and got the attention of like minded academics and database experts. With the launch of N1QL for Analytics, we have advanced and refined N1QL to be the first commercially available implementation of SQL++.”


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