Got a little graph database in you? Then you may be a “graphista” in the eyes of graph database developer Neo Technology, which yesterday unveiled a new release of its Neo4j graph database that it says will usher in the era of mainstream graph processing.

Graph databases are prominently used by social media companies, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, to determine connections among vast numbers of users. But the ability of graph databases to model and query connected data has uses beyond social media, including accelerating the development of applications in customer service and even bioinformatics.

With the launch of Neo4j 2.0 this week, the company hopes to take graph databases to the next level, and to enable even non-technical people to begin using and developing with graph database technology.

Major new features include the addition of labels to the Neo4j schema. Labels will enable developers to tell the database more about the data, and speed up development. An update to the Cypher query language in Neo4j 2.0 will allow developers to develop applications with one-tenth of the coding that would be required in a traditional SQL database. The company also added the Neo4j Browser to provide an interactive experience with the graph, including rapid prototyping of Cypher queries performing visual data discovery.

Rik van Bruggen’s Neo4j-based graph on Belgium beers: http://blog.neo4j.org/2013/01/fun-with-beer-and-graphs.html
Early adopters, such as socal app developer Zeebox, have good things to say about Neo4j 2.0. “For the first time, the data model in the developer’s head is actually the data model in the database, which accelerates productivity,” says Zeebox chief architect Glen Ford. Volker Pacher, a senior developer at online auction site eBay, says: “Our Neo4j solution is literally thousands of times faster than the prior MySQL solution, with queries that require 10-100 times less code. At the same time, Neo4j allowed us to add functionality that was previously not possible.”

“Five years from now we will look back on Neo4j 2.0 and think that’s when it began,” stated Neo Technology CEO Emil Eifrem in a press release. “That was the pivotal point when graphs started becoming a tool on equal footing with SQL and MapReduce for data management.”

The graph database portion of the larger NoSQL market could see a break out year in 2014. “The graph database and graph analysis sector is beginning to come into its own,” 451 Research recently concluded in a new report, which found the technology could play an important role in solving seemingly intractable technology problems across a range of industries.

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