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Couchbase NoSQL Database Goes Mobile

NoSQL database vendor Couchbase Inc. is seeking to let developers build always-available, data-driven apps for mobile users wherever they are, even when they don't have connectivity to the cloud.

The Couchbase Mobile suite was released yesterday, featuring three components, including an embedded, small-footprint, JSON-based NoSQL database called Couchbase Lite. The new mobile database is a smaller version of the company's cloud-hosted Couchbase Server database, also part of the suite. Now developers can build apps that store data in a device's embedded database so they work even when a user is offline. When connectivity to the server is restored, Couchbase Sync Gateway -- the third component -- will synchronize the data with Couchbase Server.

The company said its NoSQL database is better suited than traditional relational database management systems (RDBMS) to handle the varied types of unstructured data generated by mobile users. It claims no existing product synchronizes unstructured data shared between a device and the cloud.

The Couchbase Sync Gateway synchronizes data on mobile devices when connected to the cloud.
[Click on image for larger view.] The Couchbase Sync Gateway synchronizes data on mobile devices when connected to the cloud.
(source: Couchbase Inc.)

Along with most mobile development tools these days, the database is cross-platform. Couchbase is working with Xamarin Inc. and Adobe PhoneGap so developers using the lightweight database can easily target multiple OSes.

The initial release of Couchbase Lite features native support for iOS, Android and Java. Couchbase is partnering with Xamarin to provide a version for the Microsoft .NET Framework, released yesterday in beta.

Xamarin and PhoneGap provide cross-platform functionality in different ways.

Xamarin provides a native mobile application development platform that lets developers write C# code that is compiled for native optimization. Projects can share app and business logic, data access and networking code.

A Couchbase Lite plug-in for the open source PhoneGap framework lets developers use HTML 5, CSS and JavaScript to write hybrid apps that are wrapped in a container and use web views instead of native frameworks for layout.

"With Couchbase Mobile, we reimagined how mobile applications should be built," said Couchbase CEO Bob Wiederhold in a statement. "Until now, mobile applications were built with the requirement that data must be stored in the cloud because it has been too hard to store and sync data from the device. Couchbase Mobile changes all that. Our mobile products give developers everything they need to build always-available and always-responsive applications in a fraction of the time it currently takes. With Couchbase Mobile, the network no longer impacts application performance. When the network is unavailable, the app just works.”

Couchbase said the new offering was nearly three years in the making, with first beta version released in September 2013.

"We no longer live in the pre-mobile world," the company quoted Gartner analyst Lyn Robison as saying. "Companies are moving to a mobile-first mindset and enterprise IT is being called on to support that. But mobile application development teams have been challenged by a lack of infrastructure products at the data layer. A native mobile database with integrated sync will significantly reduce the hurdles faced by mobile application developers in today's enterprise, allowing them to deliver apps that deliver business value all the time, with or without a connection.”

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for 1105 Media.

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