How MongoDB Powers The Social Platform Taking London By Storm
May 18, 2015 | Updated: June 4, 2015
Many of the largest and most sophisticated companies in the world rely on MongoDB, including over a third of the Fortune 100. In addition to well established businesses using the modern database, innovative start ups from around the world put MongoDB at the heart of their data strategy.
This blog series highlights three UK-based start ups transforming their industries with MongoDB. This week, Urber. In part one of this series we looked at innovative ticketing site DICE.
Urber is a city blogging platform where users share what they love about their city; from food reviews to art events and everything in-between.
We developed the social platform when we realized that there was simply no great place to collectively share city stories, news and tips. The response has already been fantastic - over the last quarter we’ve seen 70% growth in our total number of users and 100% growth in the amount of content on the site.
However, building a platform with a high-level of functionality that could also scale like this, posed some interesting development challenges.
In order to create a data strategy on which to build our business, the development team turned to MongoDB for its high scalability and ease of development.
Urber is what’s known as a ‘document handling platform’. In development terms, it is classical CRUD (create, read, update, delete) without much of the D. The central data entity for us is an article, which aligns well with the MongoDB philosophy and how it models with data.
Although there are a number of related data entities to an article (for example, comments, loves, reposts), these are most frequently needed along with the rest of the article data, as that’s when social data becomes really powerful.
For instance, if you're reading about a new restaurant then you will want to know how many stars it received in a review. You may also be interested in its geographical nearness to you and if anyone in your network has eaten there. This ability to easily connect information that makes MongoDB’s document object model a fit for social media platforms, and our articles in particular. We no longer need a more traditional relational database.
Flexibility is a key ingredient for success in the life of a startup or indeed any business that relies on rapidly evolving technology.
In my experience, flexibility in developing and evolving the application’s data model has been highly desirable but also rather difficult to manage. As document oriented databases have matured, capabilities are definitely changing. MongoDB has shown that much of that work can be effectively removed, so we can build applications faster and continuously innovate.
Our development team is able to keep pace with the changing data needs of the evolving platform thanks largely to MongoDB. The ability to augment data structures without the overhead of maintaining relational data structures has been key. It makes the development team’s life simple, which means we can focus on the important task of growing the business.
How MongoDB helps us scale
Our goal is to emulate the success of other social media platforms such as Twitter or Tumblr. A huge undertaking but we truly believe that we have the potential to achieve it and we need technology that can get us there. In the past quarter we’ve seen a year on year increase of 70% in users and more than 100% growth in content.
We have a close integration with Twitter. On Urber, users can tag Twitter handles in their articles and mention people or places they are writing about, as well as share t links automatically. MongoDB handles the unstructured social media data that Twitter produces seamlessly.
The goal of Urber is to provide readers with insider knowledge. We’re creating an experience and we hope to be the it place for city news, stories and inspiration. Establishing a start-up is always difficult, but one thing we’ve not lost sleep over is whether we have the right technology stack to support us. MongoDB is helping Urber expand in ways we couldn’t even imagine when we started.
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