MongoDB World 2018 a Review and Retrospective

Every year MongoDB hosts a conference called MongoDB World. 2018 saw the conference return to New York City and the Midtown Hilton on the 26th and 27th of June. There were a lot of exciting announcements made, sessions to attend, and people to meet.

I had a slightly different experience than many of the over 2,000 attendees at the conference. I received invitations to a few different events and presented in a couple of different sessions. I’d like to spend this post talking about my experience at MongoDB World 2018. Hopefully, it provides you with some motivation to attend the event next year. Or, if New York is too far to travel, to attend a local MongoDB community event.

MongoDB World Day 1 – 26 June 2018

The first day of the conference had a few different offering. First, there were hands-on full-day workshops. These allowed people to get some detailed, hands-on exposure to MongoDB. Topics ranged from data modeling to security. While I didn’t attend any of these sessions I heard great things about them from others.
So how did I spend day one of MongoDB World 2018? The developer advocacy team at MongoDB put on an amazing day of learning. It also provided access to some key team members. Jay Gordon was our host for Developer Advocacy Day and did a great job on the agenda. There was a nice mix of MongoDB team access along with career-oriented talks.

Developer Advocacy Day at MongoDB World

Several MongoDB employees were there for the majority of the day including Michael Lynn (Global Director of Developer Advocacy), Joe Drumgoole (Director, Developer Advocacy, EMEA), and Aydrian Howard (Developer Advocate). They were around to answer questions from the 60 or so developers in this invite only session. Additionally, several MongoDB Masters in attendance that were a joy to talk with. Additionally seeing, and meeting, people from around the country and world was exciting.


There were sessions coving many of MongoDB’s product offerings, such as Stitch and Atlas. Francesca Krihely provided some excellent information on the MongoDB Accelerator Program, which was great to learn about.

We had the opportunity to have MongoDB Co-Founder and CTO Elliot Horowitz joined us for a Q&A session. He answered several questions about MongoDB past, present, and future. This was the day before many big announcements so many answers were pretty broad in scope. But, having access to Mr. Horowitz in this close-knit environment was awesome.
Another great session was the panel discussion of MongoDB product and engineers. This provided another rare opportunity to get questions answered about specific product features. Further, it allowed us to get an idea about some of the internals of the various products MongoDB offers.

Career Oriented Discussions

Taking Care of your Engineering Manager

Jenna Zeigen from Slack provided a nice talk about things to think about as an individual contributor in an engineering department. It was great to hear her insights as a former manager. Check out her slides here.


There was a very informative talk by Brandy Morgan on social media marketing. She covered things to do and consider for managing business and personal branding. She did a nice job of walking through some techniques to increase one’s social media presence. If doing so is of interest to you, she is launching a new company and site in September 2018 to provide advice. Sign up for now to get on the waitlist, or view her talk here.

Community Involvement

I presented a talk to this group of developers. The topic was Getting Involved in Community to Advance Your Career. I talked about my journey in the MongoDB community, some ways to get involved, and how that involvement can benefit your career. Including personal examples from my own life. The slide deck is available here, and I’d be happy to answer any questions on how to get started.

MongoDB World Day 2 – 27 June 2018


Mr. Lynn and I presented a talk during the first session on Wednesday. The talk was MongoDB & NodeJS: Zero to Hero in 80 Minutes. There were some unplanned technical issues during the talk making us have to change presentation plans mid-way. However, we made it through and received some positive feedback for the session overall. If you’re interested, you can explore the GitHub repository here to learn more about Node.js and MongoDB.

Video Interview

Jay Gordon grabbed me again for a quick sit down interview to discuss my thoughts on the event.

MDBW18 Interview
Jay Gordon (left) & Ken W. Alger Interview
Innovation Awards

Wednesday night after the conference ended, the 2018 Innovation Award ceremony occurred. MongoDB recognized companies “who are using MongoDB to dream big and deliver incredibly bold, innovative solutions that are moving forward industries and changing lives for the better.”

Companies like accenture, Charles Schwab, and Coinbase, among others, received awards for their creative and innovative development solutions backed by MongoDB. It was great to be in the room with them. Learning how MongoDB is being leveraged is always interesting.

Learning about how 7-Eleven is utilizing Atlas was fascinating. Medical device provider, Humana, won for their implementation for the Internet of Things category. As someone who is interested in IoT, I found that interesting

Zola Award at MongoDB World 2018
2018 William Zola Award for Community Excellence. Ken W. Alger (left) with Michael Lynn (right), Global Director of Developer Advocacy, MongoDB

Wrap Up

MongoDB World 2018 was a spectacular event. They haven’t announced yet where MongoDB 2019 will be. Wherever it is, I would highly recommend you attend.


New R Driver Option in MongoDB 3.6

In a previous post, I discussed some options for using MongoDB with the R Language. While the information in that post is still accurate, MongoDB 3.6 introduces a new R driver option. Unlike the drivers previously discussed, this new R driver is under active development.

New R Driver

The new R driver, mongolite, can be found on GitHub and is easily installed from the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN) using the install.packages("mongolite") command on Windows or OS-X. The driver, or client, is authored by Jeroen Ooms who also has provided some nice documentation in PDF format. Let’s head into RStudio and take a look at using the new R driver.

Accessing MongoDB

Let’s use the same dataset as in the previous post and, with mongoimport, get the data into a MongoDB collection. The database again will be called kenblog and the collection is scores. Here again is a sample document in the collection:

   "_id" : ObjectId("5627207b33ff2cf40effc25e"),
   "student" : 2,
   "type" : "quiz",
   "score" : 74

After using the install.packages("mongolite") command, we can put the power of R to work. We establish a connection to our database:

> require("mongolite")
Loading required package: mongolite
> connection <- mongo(collection = "scores", db = "kenblog", url = "mongodb://localhost")

The mongo connection method accepts the following arguments:

  • collection
  • db
  • url
  • verbose
  • options

The collection and db arguments allow for the specification of the names of the respective database information. url is the mongo connection string in URI format. If you need additional output from the connection one can set the verbose boolean value to TRUE. Additional connection options, such as SSL information, can also be passed in.

With a connection established, let’s query our scores collection for exam data.

examQuery <- connection$find('{"type": "exam"}')

This brings in our 585 exam documents. We can then create a vector of the exam scores and have a look at their summary.

> exam_scores <- examQuery[c('score')] 
> summary(exam_scores)
 Min.   : 60.00  
 1st Qu.: 72.00  
 Median : 79.00  
 Mean   : 79.45  
 3rd Qu.: 86.00  
 Max.   :100.00 

Personally, I’m already liking the syntax of this new R driver for doing queries and working with MongoDB in R.

Other methods that will be familiar to MongoDB users are drop() to drop a collection, aggregate for aggregation pipeline operations, and insert for creating information in the database. There are many additional methods that can be used that allow for map-reduce operations and importing or exporting JSON or BSON data, and many more.

Further, with support for features such as indexing, encryption, and authentication, this new R driver is much more robust than previous options.

Wrap Up

Connecting to MongoDB from R is pretty straightforward and simple using the new R driver. It is the new “official” and supported method to leverage the power of R with the flexibility and power of MongoDB.

R is a great statistical language and can definitely be used to query and analyze MongoDB collections. If you are using R in your work today, this new way of connecting with MongoDB is definitely worth a look. If R is still new to you, Learning R: A Step-by-Step Function Guide to Data Analysis is a great way to get started. Or the R For Dummies book may be of interest as well.

Follow me on Twitter @kenwalger to get the latest updates on my postings.

There are a few MongoDB specific terms in this post. I created a MongoDB Dictionary skill for the Amazon Echo line of products. Check it out and you can say “Alexa, ask MongoDB for the definition of a document?” and get a helpful response.