CS377: Database Design - NoSQL

Activity Goals

The goals of this activity are:
  1. To explain the difference between a relational table and a NoSQL Collection
  2. To utilize MongoDB to store unstructured records

The Activity


Consider the activity models and answer the questions provided. First reflect on these questions on your own briefly, before discussing and comparing your thoughts with your group. Appoint one member of your group to discuss your findings with the class, and the rest of the group should help that member prepare their response. Answer each question individually from the activity on the Class Activity Questions discussion board. After class, think about the questions in the reflective prompt and respond to those individually in your notebook. Report out on areas of disagreement or items for which you and your group identified alternative approaches. Write down and report out questions you encountered along the way for group discussion.

Model 1: Unstructured Data Stores

MongoDB Collections from mongodb.com


  1. Create a Cluster at MongoDB.com, and a user to access it. Allow network access, and click the Connect button to obtain a database connection string. The repl.it example code comments contain instructions on how to pass the database parameters (like the password) as environment variables, so that you do not have to embed them in your program code. Run the given example against your collection.
  2. What is the format of the data being stored in a NoSQL collection?
  3. Do you think you could lookup relational data in a NoSQL collection? Why or why not?
  4. How might a NoSQL collection make things easier when dealing with a web service that communicates JSON between the browser and the server?
  5. How might a collection compare to a table, and what is a document in this model?
  6. Are collections typically normalized? How can you tell?
  7. What are the implications of denormalized, unstructured data stores?
  8. In the code example, what is the collection and what is the document?
  9. Which field do you think is indexed in the collection?
  10. Try inserting an additional document in the code example above, but with a different set of fields. Does it work? Based on this, do NoSQL collections have schemas?

Embedded Code Environment

You can try out some code examples in this embedded development environment! To share this with someone else, first have one member of your group make a small change to the file, then click "Open in Repl.it". Log into your Repl.it account (or create one if needed), and click the "Share" button at the top right. Note that some embedded Repl.it projects have multiple source files; you can see those by clicking the file icon on the left navigation bar of the embedded code frame. Share the link that opens up with your group members. Remember only to do this for partner/group activities!


Submit your answers to the questions using the Class Activity Questions discussion board. You may also respond to questions or comments made by others, or ask follow-up questions there. Answer any reflective prompt questions in the Reflective Journal section of your OneNote Classroom personal section.