Development with MongoMapper

A question popped up:

Mongo is schema-less, that means we can create new fields when needed, I read the mongo mapper document, it still needs to write model code like below, so we have to change the code below when we need new field, is this kind of limitation to use the schema-less database mongodb?

class User
  include MongoMapper::Document

  key :first_name, String
  key :last_name, String
  key :age, Integer

Strict answer: NO, you do not have to change the model code to add a new “column” to your “table.”

I like to think of MongoMapper as making my domain classes behave more like an object-oriented database than a data management layer.

During rapid development, having a database that just follows along with your model makes for speedy feature creation and prototyping. Though “migrations” being first-class citizens, of sort, in Rails is a great step forward for managing development changes with traditional schema databases, MongoDB doesn’t even require that level of concern.

That said, it also implies you, as the developer/designer/architect, are treated as an individual willing to take on the responsibility of wielding this amount of “power” (just like Ruby does).

Therefore, even though you do not technically have to add keys to your MongoMapper document class, if you are talking about core aspects of your domain, I would add the keys so as to make it clear what you are modeling.

Now, there may be certain cases where a class is just storing a bunch of random key-value pairs that are not key elements of your domain, with the sole purpose of merely showing them later. Maybe you are parsing data or taking a feed of lab results, for example, and just need to format the information without searching or sorting or much of anything. In this situation, you do not need to care about adding the (unknown) keys to the model class.

As the saying goes, “just because you *can* do something does not mean you *should* do something.”

Leave a Reply