Neo4j 3.0 Released

Neo Technology, the creator and chief commercial supporter of the Neo4j open source NoSQL graph database implemented in Java, today announced the availability of Neo4j 3.0. The latest release introduces a new set of language drivers specifically built for Java, JavaScript, Python, and C#/.NET, as well as a new binary wire protocol called Bolt.

The company has been working on the architecture to support an official in-house set of language drivers for the graph database for some time, Philip Rathle, vice president of products at Neo Technology, told ADTmag.

"The community has been building drivers for their favorite languages for years," he said. "I think there are three Python drivers and at least five ways to write Java code against Neo4j. There's a .NET driver, but the author hasn't had time to work on it in a while. By owning [the languages] and doing that development ourselves, it ends up being a service to the community. What the community driver authors have told us is that this relieves them from all the low-level network protocol negotiation, so they can build more value-add stuff on top of it."

Neo Technology isn't doing away with its REST interface, Rathle said, but adding the new, lightweight Bolt binary wire protocol will "radically change the way developers and applications interact with the database," Rathle said, providing "lightning fast access to the graph."

"We've always been very developer focused," he added, "but this is really a developer release."

The company has also launched a new companion cloud service called Neo4j Browser Sync. The free service is designed to augment Neo4j's free developer tooling by making it possible for users to save and synchronize their favorite scripts and settings.

The list of updates in this release also includes: a new storage engine that eliminates previous upper scaling limits; support for Java Stored Procedures, which allows things like schema introspection to be added to the database and combined with Bolt and the company's Cypher query language; new cost-based query optimizer for writes, as well as improvements to Cypher performance throughout; a new configuration and logging structure that supports modern deployment scenarios.

"Convenience is the killer app for mainstream tech adoption," said James Governor, RedMonk co-founder and analyst, in a statement. "Neo4j 3.0 aims to be more developer-friendly thanks to Bolt and drivers for the most popular programming languages in their specific distribution systems."

The company is calling Neo4j 3.0 "a landmark release propelling graph databases into the mainstream." It's a big step in the evolution of the graph database, which was first released in 2010. Neo Technology aims to "bring graph databases to the masses," Neo CEO Emil Eifrem told ADTmag in an earlier interview. Eifrem has been working on Neo4j since the open source project launched in 2000.

Neo4j was in the news earlier this month, cited by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ ) as a key tool used in their analysis of the 2.8TB of data that make up The Panama Papers. The graph database technology was deployed through the Linkurious graph visualization tool. Linkurious is a Neo4j partner. Mar Cabra, the ICIJ's Data and Research Unit Editor, called it "a revolutionary discovery tool that's transformed the investigative journalism process."

Analysts at Forrester Research Inc. estimate that more than 25 percent of enterprises will be using a graph database by 2017. That growth will span virtually all industries, the analysts predict, in areas ranging from digital content management and bioinformatics, to ID management and the Internet of Things.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].