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MongoDB is really easy to get started with. It's easy to install on a VM, and it's easy to try it out on Heroku. There's drivers for a bunch of languages, and its API works in a way that fits well with the way programmers already think. It dispenses with pretty much everything that makes getting started with a new database hard (schemas, new syntax, unfamiliar concepts, needing to edit server configs).

MongoDB "just works" out of the box for testing and development. It's practically the perfect database for any testing and development work. And their marketing documentation tells you that it'll just work in production and will scale really well. That makes a lot of people try MongoDB, and they're mostly very happy with it.

...the problems arise later. Because while MongoDB lives up to the hype for testing and development, it doesn't completely live up to the hype for production uses. It doesn't always scale that well. It isn't always as durable as you might hope. Performance isn't always very good. For some use cases, the default settings aren't appropriate; for other use cases the database design itself isn't appropriate. Backups and replication aren't quite as easy as you'd hope.

In short, the problem comes because MongoDB is as good or better than, say, Postgres or Riak during development in basically every way, but it's only better than Postgres or Riak in a few specialized ways during production.

Example: Riak basically won't work at all in a multi-tenant setup. Two competing services will provide you with a free development MongoDB instance on Heroku, but nothing of the kind exists for Riak; you basically need to roll your own cluster. That makes MongoDB really easy for someone thinking "hey, I wonder if Mongo would work for this proof of concept I'm working on" (hint: it will). Of course, MongoDB replication and scaling is honestly mediocre, while Riak's is basically magic. This makes Riak a better choice for someone who needs to scale a cluster of database servers - but you only find out that sort of thing first-hand during production. At which point, you make an angry blog post that hits Hacker News. And while plenty of people never run into MongoDBs weak areas, they never post anything that hits the Hacker News frontpage. :)

TL;DR: A lot of people hate MongoDB because it's amazingly easy to get started with, but harder later on, and they then feel betrayed. Other databases have smoother learning curves.




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