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Quickstart Couch Db

Notes on Couch DB#

  • Couch DB is a database, a NoSQL database (non relational database)
  • Documents are stored, uniquely named in the db
  • It provides a Restful API for creating, reading, updating and deleting documents
  • CouchDB is stored in semi-structured documents

Documents are the primary unit of data

The Couch DB update model is lockless and optimistic

Single document updates either succeed or fail

Documents are indexed in B-trees by their name (Doc id) and a sequence ID. Each update generates a new sequential number

Getting Started#

Install couch db using one of the installation guides

Setup couch db, I will be using the single node setup.

Visit Fauxton (The Couch DB web interface) at:

Ensure it is running by issuing a GET request to port 5984

$ http :5984
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Cache-Control: must-revalidate
Content-Length: 208
Content-Type: application/json
Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2019 08:16:53 GMT
Server: CouchDB/2.3.1 (Erlang OTP/21)
X-Couch-Request-ID: 3d97d2fecc
X-CouchDB-Body-Time: 0

    "couchdb": "Welcome",
    "features": [
    "git_sha": "c298091a4",
    "uuid": "d13db32f8059f98e73f8b88cd88b3cfa",
    "vendor": {
        "name": "The Apache Software Foundation"
    "version": "2.3.1"

Get a list of databases

$ http :5984/_all_dbs


Create a database

$ http -a couch:pass PUT :5984/cricket

    "ok": true

Delete a database

$ http -a couch:pass DELETE :5984/whale

    "ok": true

Use Fauxton to create a database and a document

When you write your first programs, we recommend assigning your own UUIDs. Generating your own UUIDs makes sure that you’ll never end up with duplicate documents.

Running Queries#

Traditional relational databases allow you to run any queries you like as long as your data is structured correctly. In contrast, CouchDB uses predefined map and reduce functions in a style known as MapReduce.

  • Map functions are called once with each document as the argument
  • When writing CouchDB map functions, your primary goal is to build an index that stores related data under nearby keys

Example document:

    "_id": "a611132e5c11476f1363ffdb35001b8a",
    "_rev": "1-be5d5870c9ef76734789df431d0ffe7b",
    "item": "apple",
    "prices": {
        "Fresh Mart": 1.59,
        "Price Max": 5.99,
        "Apples Express": 0.79

Map function:

function(doc) {
    var shop, price, key;
    if (doc.item && doc.prices) {
        for (shop in doc.prices) {
            price = doc.prices[shop];
            key = [doc.item, price];
            emit(key, shop);

It’s important to check for the existence of any fields before you use them

Couch DB Core API#

  • CouchDB is a database management system (DMS) - it can hold mutilple databases
  • A database is a bucket that holds related data

Create a DB#

$ http -a couch:pass PUT :5984/test
    "ok": true

If it fails a second time:

http -a couch:pass PUT :5984/test
    "error": "file_exists",
    "reason": "The database could not be created, the file already exists."

Couchdb stores each database in a single file

Delete a db#

$ http -a couch:pass delete :5984/test

Be careful with this, it is hard to bring your data back without a backup


  • Couch DB’s central data structure
  • Couch DB uses JSON to store documents
  • Each document in CouchDB has an ID, unique per database.
  • UUID’s: UUIDs are random numbers that have such a low collision probability that everybody can make thousands of UUIDs a minute for millions of years without ever creating a duplicate.
Creating a document#
http PUT :5984/hello-world/6e1295ed6c29495e54cc05947f18c8af title='There is Nothing Left to Lose' artist='Foo Fighters'

    "id": "6e1295ed6c29495e54cc05947f18c8af",
    "ok": true,
    "rev": "1-4b39c2971c9ad54cb37e08fa02fec636"
Get a UUID#

You can get a uuid with:

http :5984/_uuids
    "uuids": [

You can get more than 1 uuid with:

http :5984/_uuids?count=10
    "uuids": [
Get a document#
$ http GET :5984/hello-world/6e1295ed6c29495e54cc05947f18c8af
    "_id": "6e1295ed6c29495e54cc05947f18c8af",
    "_rev": "1-4b39c2971c9ad54cb37e08fa02fec636",
    "artist": "Foo Fighters",
    "title": "There is Nothing Left to Lose"

_rev stands for revision


Whenever you change a field in couch you load and save an entire new revision (or version) of the document

If you want to update or delete a document, couchdb expects you to include the _rev field of the revision you wish to change. This prevents you from overwriting data you didn’t know existed - or whoever changes the file first…wins.

If you don’t pride a _rev field:

$ http PUT :5984/hello-world/6e1295ed6c29495e54cc05947f18c8af title='There is Nothing Left to Lose' artist='Foo Fighters' year=1997
    "error": "conflict",
    "reason": "Document update conflict."

If you add the revision version

$ http PUT :5984/hello-world/6e1295ed6c29495e54cc05947f18c8af title='There is Nothing Left to Lose' artist='Foo Fighters' year=1997 _rev=1-4b39c2971c9ad54cb37e08fa02fec636
    "id": "6e1295ed6c29495e54cc05947f18c8af",
    "ok": true,
    "rev": "2-a0ecd0b4133f5d5824078835d510c231"

CouchDB accepted your write and also generated a new revision number. The revision number is the MD5 hash of the transport representation of a document with an N- prefix denoting the number of times a document got updated

This is called MVCC (Multi-Version Concurrency Control) - chosen because HTTP is stateless.

CouchDB does not guarantee that older versions are kept around. Don’t use the _rev token in CouchDB as a revision control system for your documents.

Documents in Detail#

Get a UUID

$ http :5984/_uuids

Create the document

$ http PUT :5984/hello-world/a611132e5c11476f1363ffdb3500bcd0 title="Blackened Sky" artist="Biffy Clyro" year=2002
HTTP/1.1 201 Created
Cache-Control: must-revalidate
Content-Length: 95
Content-Type: application/json
Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2019 10:12:29 GMT
ETag: "1-c593a87983eabbc39bb70f04cb0e57a6"
Location: http://localhost:5984/hello-world/a611132e5c11476f1363ffdb3500bcd0
Server: CouchDB/2.3.1 (Erlang OTP/21)
X-Couch-Request-ID: bd37be00af
X-CouchDB-Body-Time: 0
    "id": "a611132e5c11476f1363ffdb3500bcd0",
    "ok": true,
    "rev": "1-c593a87983eabbc39bb70f04cb0e57a6"

An ETag is returned and is the same as rev


  • Files attached to a document
  • Attachments get their own URL where you can upload data

Adding an attachment:

$ http put :5984/hello-world/a611132e5c11476f1363ffdb3500bcd0/chart.png?rev=1-c593a87983eabbc39bb70f04cb0e57a6 @~/Desktop/chart.png Content-Type:image/png
    "id": "a611132e5c11476f1363ffdb3500bcd0",
    "ok": true,
    "rev": "2-3b33267677cceecb6c209ac2fb391abf"

The attachment will be added to the document:

$ http :5984/hello-world/a611132e5c11476f1363ffdb3500bcd0
    "_attachments": {
        "chart.png": {
            "content_type": "image/png",
            "digest": "md5-y9V09vx/4l7/UWfzwTaDmw==",
            "length": 422288,
            "revpos": 2,
            "stub": true
    "_id": "a611132e5c11476f1363ffdb3500bcd0",
    "_rev": "2-3b33267677cceecb6c209ac2fb391abf",
    "artist": "Biffy Clyro",
    "title": "Blackened Sky",
    "year": "2002"

_attachments a list of keys and values of JSON objects containing attachment data

A request with ?attachments=true will return a base64 encoded attachment