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Realm is an open-source object database management system, initially for mobile (Android/iOS), also available for platforms such as Xamarin or React Native, and others, including desktop applications (Windows), and is licensed under the Apache License.
In 2016 September, the Realm Mobile Platform was announced, followed by the first stable release in January 2017. It allows two-way synchronization between the Realm Object Server, and the client side databases that belong to the given logged-in user. Both a developer, and a commercial edition was released, along with a business license for integrating with other database management systems such as PostgreSQL.
Realm's development began in the end of 2010 by Alexander Stigsen, along with Bjarne Christiansen, under the name TightDB. The company started in 2011 at Y Combinator. It was promoted as NoSQL with configurable durability, and the ability to share the same groups of data across multiple processes, but also even multiple devices and clusters.
Realm announced version 1.0 in June 2016, and released a platform for real-time two-way synchronization (beta in 2016 September, release in 2017 January), and provided a NodeJS SDK for server-side applications.
In May 2017, UWP support was announced.
The most notable features of Realm are the following:
- As Realm is an object store, its typed language-specific APIs map typed objects directly into the Realm file - therefore classes are used as the schema definition.
- Relationships between objects are allowed via "links". Each "link" creates a "backlink" as an inverse relationship to whichever objects are linking to the current object.
- The query results returned by Realm are thread-local views to the current "database version" (as Realm handles concurrency with MVCC architecture), and these views "automatically update" when a transaction is committed from any thread, as long as Realm is able to update its instance version (which is possible on threads that are able to receive change notifications). When this happens, Realm calls change listeners that are added to its query results (if they've changed).
- Each thread-local view returns proxy objects that only read from/write to the database when an accessor method is called, meaning all database access is lazy-loaded. Please note that writes are allowed only while in a write transaction.
- As each query result and each proxy object is a view to the underlying data, any change made to the database is reflected in all objects that point to the same data. Realm generally calls this behavior "zero-copy architecture" (along with the previously mentioned lazy-loaded data access).
Development and distribution
Realm is developed mostly open-source on Github, where source code for language-specific bindings and the core database are available. Aspects of Realm related to the sync feature are however proprietary and closed-source.
Programming language support
- Java (Android only)
- C# (Xamarin, Win32, UWP)
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