Tag Archives: github

The Power of Open Source Software


One of the benefits of Open Source Software is that if you want to change how something is done, you can. At Neo Technology, we have a small team of “Field Engineers” who don’t really work ON the product but rather WITH the product. We help our customers with issues of all kinds, answer questions, give suggestions and whatever we need to do to make people’s project successful. A little while back I had a support ticket for a traversal that was taking longer than they hoped it would.

Think about a social network, one of the things you may want to do is tell the user how big their friends network is. But why stop there? How about their friends of friends or even friends of friends of friends network? These are the kind of questions graph databases excel at compared to relational databases. Let’s take a look at what they were doing:
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Translating Cypher to Java


The expressive power of Cypher is already awesome and getting better with the Neo4j 2.0 release. Let’s take a step back from the bleeding edge and see Cypher in 1.9.4 and how it can be translated into Java. First a simple example where we look up a User node by an index and return a list of usernames belonging to the people who are that user’s friends:

START me = node:Users(username='maxdemarzi')
MATCH me -[:FRIENDS]-> people
RETURN people.username

The Cypher statement expresses what I want even better than my botched explanation in English. So how would we do this in the Neo4j Java API?
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Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives is a mind bending look at how no matter how individual we think we are, the people around us have a great amount of influence in our lives. One of the authors James Fowler was at GraphConnect 2012 and gave a presentation on this idea:
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Visualizing the news with Vivagraph.js


Today I want to introduce you to VivaGraphJS – a JavaScript Graph Drawing Library made by Andrei Kashcha of Yasiv. It supports rendering graphs using WebGL, SVG or CSS formats and currently supports a force directed layout. The Library provides an API which tracks graph changes and reflect changes on the rendering surface which makes it fantastic for graph exploration.

Today we will be integrating it with Neo4j and the Alchemy API.

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Permission Resolution with Neo4j – Part 3


Let’s add a couple of performance tests to the mix. We learned about Gatling in a previous blog post, we’re going to use it here again. The first test will randomly choose users and documents (from the graph we created in part 2) and write the results to a file, the second test will re-use the results of the first one and run consistently so we can change hardware, change Neo4j parameters, tune the JVM, etc. and see how they affect our performance.

The full code for the Random Permissions test is here, I’ll just highlight the main parts:
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Permission Resolution with Neo4j – Part 2


Let’s try tackling something a little bigger. In Part 1 we created a small graph to test our permission resolution graph algorithm and it worked like a charm on our dozen or so nodes and edges. I don’t have fast hands, so instead of typing out a million node graph, we’ll build a graph generator and use the batch importer to load it into Neo4j. What I want to create is a set of files to feed to the batch-importer.
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Facebook Graph Search with Cypher and Neo4j

Update: Facebook has disabled this application

Your app is replicating core Facebook functionality.


Facebook Graph Search has given the Graph Database community a simpler way to explain what it is we do and why it matters. I wanted to drive the point home by building a proof of concept of how you could do this with Neo4j. However, I don’t have six months or much experience with NLP (natural language processing). What I do have is Cypher. Cypher is Neo4j’s graph language and it makes it easy to express what we are looking for in the graph. I needed a way to take “natural language” and create Cypher from it. This was going to be a problem.
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Pathfinding with Neo4j Unmanaged Extensions

In Extending Neo4j I showed you how to create an unmanaged extension to warm up the node and relationship caches. Let’s try doing something more interesting like exposing the A* (A Star) search algorithm through the REST API. The graph we created earlier looks like this:
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Extending Neo4j

One of the great things about Neo4j is how easy it is to extend it. You can extend Neo4j with Plugins and Unmanaged Extensions. Two great examples of plugins are the Gremlin Plugin (which lets you use the Gremlin library with Neo4j) and the Spatial Plugin (which lets you perform spatial operations like searching for data within specified regions or within a specified distance of a point of interest).

Plugins are meant to extend the capabilities of the database, nodes, or relationships. Unmanaged extensions are meant to let you do anything you want. This great power comes with great responsibility, so be careful what you do here. David Montag cooked up an unmanaged extension template for us to use on github so lets give it a whirl. We are going to clone the project, compile it, download Neo4j, configure Neo4j to use the extension, test the extension and tweak it a bit.
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CrunchBase on Neo4j

NeoTechnology was featured on TechCrunch after raising a Series B round, and it has an entry on CrunchBase. If you look at CrunchBase closely you’ll notice it’s a graph. Who invested in what, who co-invested, what are the common investment themes between investors, how are companies connected by board members, etc. These are questions we can ask of the graph and are well suited for graph databases.
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