Making the most of Compose - Human Design

This is the first in a series of case studies of Compose database users and how Compose enables them to do their business. This is Making the most of Compose.

When your business is all about providing the highest quality experiences for your clients, the last thing you want to worry about is your databases. At Human Design, they have solved that problem by using Compose's MongoDB for all the full stack solutions they create for their non-profit clients. We talked to Matt Null of Human Design to find out more.

Driven by a desire to help make a better world, Matt Null and John Weiss got together three years ago to found Human Design. The company which is now twenty five strong operates from its Boulder, Colorado HQ and has developed projects like Racing Extinction for the Oceanic Preservation Society, the Sustainable Development Goals Action Campaign for the United Nations and saving lives from textual distraction with Katasi's Groove mobile app. Human Design's mission is to take on projects that have a positive impact on society through their work.

The company is "kind of full-service" says Matt. They do everything from mobile apps, websites, marketing campaigns – "pretty much anything digital, we can do."

Human Design have been using Compose since before it was called Compose, when it was MongoHQ offering plain hosted MongoDB. As a full stack JavaScript developer, Human Design have a wide range of options to choose from when it comes to databases. Compose's innovative elastic scaling has made it their first choice for MongoDB says Matt, calling it "really nice, so you don't have to upgrade and do a whole migration. It's just really convenient, and that's one of my favorite features."

Historically, the company has deployed its apps using the Heroku platform and uses Heroku's Compose add-on to connect those apps to the Compose MongoDB instances. The applications tend to be Node.js based and MongoDB "plays really well with Node." The stack selection for each client is based on "a combination of familiarity and what the client really needs. We've built really large platforms, and they are all backed by Mongo and it works well."

Human Design's process is all about getting the right elements for their stack and they keep it light and agile using Mithril.js as their JavaScript framework. "It's named after the armor that Frodo wore in Lord of the Rings, because it's lightweight, and it's strong" says Matt mentioning that the framework's author joined the company. The front-end and Node.js apps talk to Compose's MongoDB at the back-end and that means Human Design can deliver to all platforms, and to all scales, without exceptional stack changes. Matt also notes that everything is the same stack – "And, you know, we host everything on the cloud, as well – nothing internal, no internal machines. The way that our developers work is, they all work locally, and then we deploy to a staging instance of the app" using Compose databases too.

Using Compose also means Human Design can hand off projects to customers who want to take control without having to relocate databases and know that the storage and backup needs of the application are being monitored and managed by Compose. It's also the start of the process that impresses Matt, "That's what's great about Compose - how quickly I can just have a DB up and running, with staging and a live version."