Press Release

UnQL Query Language Unveiled by Couchbase and SQLite

SQL-like language holds promise of NoSQL database interoperability

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – CouchConf San Francisco – July 29, 2011 – Couchbase, the leading NoSQL database company, and SQLite, maker of the world’s most widely deployed SQL database engine, today announced the release into the public domain of a jointly developed NoSQL query language. Unstructured Data Query Language, or UnQL (pronounced “Uncle”), is a collaborative effort to bring a familiar and standardized data definition and manipulation language to the NoSQL domain. Both Couchbase and SQLite have committed to delivering products that embody the language. Available at, further development of the language is open to participation from users, vendors and the academic community.

News Highlights:

  • UnQL is SQL-like in syntax, providing familiarity for application developers who grew up with that language, while providing additional capabilities to allow for selection and manipulation of complex document structures.
  • Damien Katz, Couchbase founder and inventor of CouchDB, the most widely deployed NoSQL database engine and D. Richard Hipp, inventor of SQLite, the most widely deployed SQL database engine led the initial efforts on UnQL. Both are committed to the implementation of UnQL in forthcoming product releases.  
  • Selecting and operating on self-describing documents without a rigidly defined schema requires expressiveness unavailable in today’s SQL database solutions. With UnQL, developers get the structured table format of the relational database model plus the added flexibility of the NoSQL schema-free design.

Supporting Quotes:

  • Damien Katz, Couchbase CTO and creator of CouchDB: “The work we’ve done on UnQL has been very gratifying. UnQL stems from our belief that a common query language is necessary to drive NoSQL adoption in the same way SQL drove adoption in the relational database market. I look forward to continuing my work alongside SQLite to push this new language forward.”
  • D. Richard Hipp, inventor of SQLite: “Relational database technology – and the SQL query language – have served us very well for over forty years, but modern applications require far more flexibility at the data layer than those of generations past. UnQL builds upon our experience with SQL, supplementing that language with syntax and concepts appropriate for the unstructured, self-describing data formats of post-modern applications.”
  • Erik Meijer, Partner Architect, Microsoft: “One of the main arguments in our recent CACM article on coSQL was the industry needs a common query language and data model to feed the ecosystem for key-value stores. The UnQL language presents an important practical next step in this process. We are looking forward to working with Couchbase and other industry leaders in the NoSQL space on taking the design to the next level.”
  • Stephen O’Grady, Principal Analyst, RedMonk: “One of the primary use cases for non-relational databases is the storage and retrieval of unstructured information. What’s been lacking has been a standardized interface to this data, an unstructured equivalent to SQL. UnQL aims to address precisely this problem.”

Additional Resources:

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