Realm revives object database for mobile dev

Ngoc Huynh

The Realm Mobile Platform brings the object database’s ease of use to mobile apps.

Realm is introducing version 1.0 of its Realm Mobile Platform, which uses the company’s object database for synchronizing data on mobile devices. It supports development of “offline first” native mobile experiences.

The platform features the Realm Mobile Database, which is an embedded object database supporting Android and Apple iOS clients, and Realm Object Server, for object synchronization and event handling to synchronize data across devices. The Object Server can be deployed on servers or in the cloud.

Object databases had been considered eye-opening data management technology back in the 1990s, Realm Chief Marketing Officer Paul Kopacki acknowledged. “It was always a great idea. The world wasn’t ready for it 20 years and the technology and the technology wasn’t all the way there.”

But Realm now sees a local, object database as more of a fit for mobile applications. Business logic doesn’t have to be translated to SQL tables like it would with a relational database — an unnatural transformation, he said. “It’s painful, it’s slow, it makes your code a lot more convoluted.”

Realm does feature a data connector API to link a mobile application with back-end databases like Oracle, MongoDB, Hadoop, and Postgres. This benefits developers because they do not need to write complex networking code, handle serialization/deserialization, or write logic to deal with conflicts or no-connection scenarios. Also featured in the platform is a built-in backup capability to preserve app data.

An example of how the platform would work: A real-time collaboration application, with two devices sharing a whiteboard. Realm would provide services like synchronization, conflict resolution and offline accommodation.

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