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Document database company MongoDB has launched a new product that it promises will simplify application development. MongoDB Stitch is a backend as a service tool (BaaS) that makes it easy for developers to integrate third-party services into their applications without having to constantly write boilerplate code or compromise security.

The range of web services has proliferated since MongoDB was founded ten years ago, and modern web and mobile apps often have to connect to a number of them to create a first-rate end user experience.

Building apps to this standard typically requires developers to write a lot of "glue code" to incorporate different third party services on a continuous basis as they change. Such code is repetitive to write, prone to errors, and takes time away from building the central product at the front end of the application.

Stitch is designed to remove these barriers by giving developers an API to MongoDB that lets them configure the different services they want to include in their application.

"Think about a mobile app," Mongo Cloud VP Sahir Azam explained to Computerworld UK. "You might be writing user registration information into MongoDB, but then you need to bill that customer via a third party service like Stripe. You might need to integrate with Twilio to send a text message confirming somebody's account and registration.

"There's all manner of third party services that need to be combined to ultimately create a business process for an application. What Stitch does is it allows you to create pipelines and workflows very cleanly in a UI that ties together all those services and guarantees interaction within them.

"For example, you're not going to want to charge a credit card twice and add the Stripe API twice - that would be a problem - but it may be completely fine to send multiple text messages if one didn't go through. So it's having that rules-based approach instead of having to code that all into the front end of an application or build middleware code to connect the dots."

MongoDB Stitch history

"MongoDB" is an abbreviation of "humongous database", a fitting choice of name for a company whose objective is saving time on database management.

"The one thing we focus on the most is making developers productive," MongoDB CTO Elliot Horowitz told Computerworld UK at MongoDB World, the company's annual developer conference in Chicago. "If you look at any data around where companies spend money, developer time is the bulk of it."

The latest manifestation of this goal also bears a name that reflects its primary purpose: to sew a variety of third party services into a single application, and combine different development tools in the same simple interface.

The initial pre-built integrations include Facebook, AWS, Twilio, Slack, MailGun and PubNub. Developers can also add further cloud or microservices using the Stitch HTTP service.

They can keep data safe and protect privacy by writing granular access rules around security, which is much less error-prone than customising code in the middleware layer.

Stitch has launched as a public beta for MongoDB Atlas, and is slated to be available for all MongoDB users in both cloud and on-premise version by the end of the year. Pricing will be based on usage.

MongoDB has become a popular choice of database for developers of web and mobile applications for providing high performance at a fraction of the cost of market leader Oracle's MySQL. The enhanced ease of use promised by Stitch adds another competitive advantage.

New cloud

Last year the company announced MongoDB Atlas, a cloud-hosted database service initially only available on Amazon Web Services (AWS). More than 25,000 have signed up to the service to build their applications in the cloud since then, from online dating website eHarmony to biotech product developer Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Read next: MongoDB enters the Database as a Service market with Atlas

The growing demand for Atlas from non-AWS customers and enterprises with multi-cloud strategies is behind the second major launch made at MongoDB World.

"As of this morning, you can now deploy Atlas clusters on any public cloud of your choice," announced Horowitz.

This means customers now have a choice of running that the product on both Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure, as well as the previous AWS option.

"By extending availability of MongoDB Atlas across AWS and now to Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure, we're ensuring that MongoDB users everywhere can easily leverage the database with the cloud services they want, all without worrying about the operational overhead of running the database according to best practices," said Azam.  

The service is available in an elastic pricing model that is metered on hourly usage, and as a free version for developers to protoype applications.

A new business intelligence (BI) tool called Mongo Charts was also revealed at the event. The analytics tool that lets users quickly create detailed graphs and dashboards from their MongoDB data. It is expected to be available this autumn.

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