View basics

Views allow you to extract specific fields and information from data and create an index.

The purpose of a view is to take the unstructured or semistructured data stored within your Couchbase Server database, extract the fields and information that you want, and produce an index of the selected information. Storing information in Couchbase Server using JSON makes the process of selecting individual fields for output easier. The resulting generated structure is a view on the stored data. The view that is created during this process lets you iterate, select, and query the information in your database from the raw data objects that have been stored.

The following diagram shows a brief overview of this process.

In the above example, the view takes the Name, City and Salary fields from the stored documents and then creates an array of this information for each document in the view. A view is created by iterating over every document within the Couchbase bucket and outputting the specified information. The resulting index is stored for future use and updated with new data stored when the view is accessed. The process is incremental and therefore has a low ongoing impact on performance. Creating a new view on an existing large data set might take a long time to build, but updates to the data are quick.

The view definition specifies the format and content of the information generated for each document in the database. Because the process relies on the fields of stored JSON, if the document is not JSON or the requested field in the view does not exist, the information is ignored. This enables the view to be created even if some documents have minor errors or lack the relevant fields altogether.

One of the benefits of a document database is the ability to change the format of documents stored in the database at any time without requiring a wholesale change to applications or a costly schema update before doing so.