Any Android application requires dedicated storage space. And various databases help developers in this. However, a lot depends on the choice of the database, and the wrong choice can bury the perfect application. When creating an app for Android, there are two most popular databases SQLite and Realm. Many developers cannot choose between them for a long time since each has its own pros and cons. Today we will compare these two databases and find out what is better for developing Android applications. Without further ado, let’s get started.
What Databases Are Used in Android Development?
A developer always chooses between two paths when it comes to storing data for an Android application. There is an option to store all data on a remote server, and there are many options for implementing such functionality. But if the development requires storing data directly on a mobile device, the choice is narrowed down to two databases: SQLite and Realm.
SQLite is one of the most famous free Android development databases. Its notable feature is that it is open-source, which makes it very flexible since any developer can customize it to fit their project and needs. The database itself is written in C with support for over 30 different programming languages. The combination of these characteristics allows this database to remain one of the most popular for more than 20 years.
However, not everything is so rosy, and this database also has certain drawbacks. In order to eliminate these shortcomings, another database called Realm was released.
Realm is a non-relational database management system that has the functionality to declare relationships between objects. The main focus of the Realm database is mobile development. Despite the fact that Realm came out much later than SQLite, the popularity of this database does not lag behind its older brother. This is due to the fact that Realm is designed to solve many of the shortcomings and roughnesses of SQLite.
In order for you to have a context for Realm’s popularity, it is worth highlighting the main problems of SQLite.
Main SQLite Drawbacks
After such a loud name, you should not be prejudiced against SQLite. It’s still a great database that does a good job of small projects. But when it comes to larger and more complex applications, developers must be prepared to face the following challenges.
One of the main flaws of this database is security problems caused by some peculiarities of the SQLite structure. The database is stored in just a single file, which can be placed anywhere and may seem quite convenient. However, such conveniences free the hands of hackers who can overwrite sensitive data. We recommend you place the database file in a safe place that is not in the root directory.
One more problem you face after your database grows in size. The larger the database, the more complex queries you need to write, which greatly complicates the task for programmers, especially those who do not have little experience with a structured query language.
If you are an experienced SQLite user, most likely, this point is not about you. However, beginners can face certain difficulties. The complex and massive structure of this database will seem especially complicated.
Advantages of Realm
As soon as Realm was given a touch by the developers, many immediately felt the huge benefits of the new database. It’s time to talk about them.
Compared to SQLite, working with Realm is like taking a walk in the park. This is due to significantly less code that developers need to write. In addition to the small amount of code, Realm is striking in its ease of implementation. Because Realm is an ORM platform, developers can save and read an object without having to worry about internal collections.
Another undoubted advantage of Realm is its speed. Multiple tests have shown that Realm works much faster than SQLite, even in the most complex algorithms.
Competent and detailed documentation is essential for any development tool. After all, if developers have any questions about the functionality, they need a source of accurate information. Realm has detailed documentation, and the official website has a lot of useful information.
Realm was released in 2017, and in 4 years, it has received many additional new features that set this database apart from the SQLite background. For example, Realm has full JSON support. In addition, Realm boasts encryption support and notifications about data changes within the database.
What Is Room?
Despite the fact that Realm solves a lot of SQLite problems, Google decided to release a separate library for SQLite called Room, which is intended to smooth out some of the rough edges. This library provides a level of abstraction over SQLite, which makes working with the system much easier, much easier, and more efficient. Apart from that, Room has some great benefits that many developers will appreciate:
- Encryption. Since the very existence of SQLite, developers have noted an encryption problem. Room adds this feature to SQLite to help keep this database behind Realm.
- LiveData. Room provides an easy way to start using LiveData without any delay.
- Size. Room is extremely small and has a 50 KB size, while the Realm database can be from 3 to 4 MB.
- Data migration. Data migration has also always been a headache for those using SQLite. Room brought a very convenient and fast way to organize data transfer in SQLite database.
As you can see, we don’t have a flawless winner in this battle. SQLite has its own flaws, which Realm fixes. But at the same time, we have a Room library that fixes all SQLite flaws, and right now, SQLite and Realm are pretty much the same. And when we say the same, we mean the same good databases for Android development.
Vitaly Kuprenko is a technical writer at Cleveroad, a mobile and web app development company in Ukraine. He enjoys writing about tech innovations and digital ways to boost businesses.