An Introduction to Neo4j
Written by Nikos Vaggalis   
Tuesday, 03 November 2020

Learn about Neo4j and Cypher in less than a day with a free course that  introduces you to graph databases and how to use the Cypher graph language to query and update a Neo4j database.

The Introduction to Neo4j Online Course captivates from the very first video, which is about the evolution of storing and relating data,starting from punch cards and then moving to relational databases which store data in tables and conform to ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability). It shows the other side of the coin too - that relational database systems can't really cope when handling joins between many tables. Subsequently the first cracks started to appear when classic database systems were found ill-equipped for the Big Data era as they couldn't handle the amount of data our world now generates. For that reason NoSQL databases sprang into life. but in the quest to improve performance they got rid of ACID.

The next step was document databases where you could index the content of the documents so you could look up a document based on its contents too. But then the need arose to be able to find data referencing each other, hence the emergence of Graph databases. Built for use with online transaction processing (OLTP) systems, they can store relationships and connections as first-class entities and under ACID too.

An intro to the basic elements of a Graph database follows, that is the nodes and the relationships, and is explained how to shift the modeling of data from relational to graphs.

The next chapters detail Neo4j's architecture and how to use its graph language, which resembles ASCII approach to performing queries. There are also instructions on how to setup a development environment by installing Neo4j Desktop, creating a Database in Neo4j Aura, or in a Neo4j Sandbox. This enables you to do the accompanying exercises: 

  • Exercise 1: Retrieving nodes
  • Exercise 2: Filtering queries using property values
  • Exercise 3: Filtering queries using relationships
  • Exercise 4: Filtering queries using the WHERE clause
  • Exercise 5: Controlling query processing
  • Exercise 6: Controlling results returned
  • Exercise 7: Working with Cypher data 

After learning to do queries you then get to make Nodes and Relationships. The class ends with more specific Neo4j material: 

  • Using parameters in your Cypher statements
  • Analyzing Cypher execution
  • Monitoring queries
  • Managing constraints and node keys for the graph
  • Importing data into a graph from CSV files
  • Managing indexes for the graph
  • Accessing Neo4j resources 

And that's it! Quick and easy to follow. And you'll even get a certificate at then end if you answer the quizzes at the end of each section correctly. If you take out the Neo4j specific stuff, the course is also perfectly usable for getting into the Graph databases mindset; at least I did. Or it might even whet your appetite for more. Whatever your reason, it's a good presentation. 


More Information

Introduction to Neo4j Online Course

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 03 November 2020 )