How SQLite helps in Mobile app development


Android comes up with a built-in implementation of SQLite database. SQLite is a lightweight database which is embedded in every Android device. A user can use this space to save data with the help of a helper class known as SQliteOpenHelper. It basically stored data in SQL database and execute CRUD functions.

SQLite is an opensource SQL database that stores data to a text file on a device. SQLite supports all the relational database features. It is a lightweight database as it requires limited memory at runtime. SQLite is different from other databases. It supports relational database features. It is used to store user data. SQLite is ACID-compliant and implements most of the SQL standard, generally following PostgreSQL syntax. However, SQLite uses a dynamically and weakly typed SQL syntax that does not guarantee the domain integrity.

You can perform many operations in SQLite database like Create, Read, Update, Delete i.e (CRUD) operations. It supports standard relations database features, like SQL syntax, transactions & SQL statements. SQLite is considerable, the lighter version of SQL database, where most of the SQL commands don’t run on SQLite database.

The main package is android.database.sqlite that contains the classes to manage your own databases.

The SQLite supports only 3 Data Types:

Text(like string) - for storing data type store

Integer(like int) - for storing integer primary key

Real(like double) - for storing long values

Why use the SQLite database in Android?

  • It is well regarded. It is Open source, Lightweight.

  • Organizing your data in a database usually makes it a lot easier to manage all the application data.

  • Especially for the case of complex calculations, it is good to store the result once in the database and not recalculate it multiple times on demand.

  • If your application gets closed the in-memory data will be lost, but after that, you will be able to restore the state from the database if you have one.

  • The database will untie your UI from the internet connection and thus you will be able to display results even if there is no internet connection.

  • Using the database you will be able to fetch the updated data from a background service, without impacting your UI.

  • SQLite is very well-suited as a device-resident data manager.  It is an application library and not a client-server database, making it very flexible for applications to use.

  • SQLite has a simple API that you use from inside your code.  You generate SQL strings, pass them to the appropriate API functions, the data manager parses and executes the SQL, and returns control to your code.

  • You would only store data in SQLite that you actually need in the device.  You can also choose to have a backend data manager if your application has a notion of accessing data from multiple phones, some notion of sharing between different users of the app, etc.

  • Content can be updated continuously and atomically so that little or no work is lost in a power failure or crash.

  • SQL queries are many times smaller than the equivalent procedural code, and since the number of bugs per line of code is roughly constant, this means fewer bugs overall.

  • SQLite database content can be viewed using a wide variety of third-party tools. Content stored in an SQLite database is more likely to be recoverable decades in the future, long after all traces of the original application have been lost. Data lives longer than code.

  • Small edits only overwrite the parts of the file that change, reducing write time and wear on SSD drives.

Situations where SQLite works well

  • Embedded devices and the internet of things. Because an SQLite database requires no administration, it works well in devices that must operate without expert human support.

  • SQLite is a good fit for use in cellphones, set-top boxes, televisions, game consoles, cameras, watches, kitchen appliances, thermostats, automobiles, machine tools, airplanes, remote sensors, drones, medical devices, and robots: the "internet of things".

  • Client/server database engines are designed to live inside a lovingly-attended datacenter at the core of the network. SQLite works there too, but SQLite also thrives at the edge of the network, fending for itself while providing fast and reliable data services to applications that would otherwise have dodgy connectivity.

  • SQLite is often used as the on-disk file format for desktop applications such as version control systems, financial analysis tools, media cataloging, and editing suites, CAD packages, record keeping programs, and so forth. The traditional File/Open operation calls sqlite3_open() to attach to the database file. Updates happen automatically as application content is revised so the File/Save menu option becomes superfluous. The File/Save_As menu option can be implemented using the backup API.

  • There are many benefits to this approach, including improved performance, reduced cost and complexity, and improved reliability. See technical notes "aff_short.html" and "appfileformat.html" and "fasterthanfs.html" for more information.

  • SQLite works great as the database engine for most low to medium traffic websites (which is to say, most websites). The amount of web traffic that SQLite can handle depends on how heavily the website uses its database.

  • People who understand SQL can employ the sqlite3 command-line shell (or various third-party SQLite access programs) to analyze large datasets. Raw data can be imported from CSV files, then that data can be sliced and diced to generate a myriad of summary reports.

  • More complex analysis can be done using simple scripts written in Tcl or Python (both of which come with SQLite built-in) or in R or other languages using readily available adaptors. Possible uses include website log analysis, sports statistics analysis, a compilation of programming metrics, and analysis of experimental results. Many bioinformatics researchers use SQLite in this way.

  • Many applications use SQLite as a cache of relevant content from an enterprise RDBMS. This reduces latency since most queries now occur against the local cache and avoid a network round-trip. It also reduces the load on the network and on the central database server. And in many cases, it means that the client-side application can continue operating during network outages.

  • Developers report that SQLite is often faster than a client/server SQL database engine in this scenario. Database requests are serialized by the server, so concurrency is not an issue. Concurrency is also improved by "database sharding": using separate database files for different subdomains.

  • Because an SQLite database is a single compact file in a well-defined cross-platform format, it is often used as a container for transferring content from one system to another. The sender gathers content into an SQLite database file, transfers that one file to the receiver, then the receiver uses SQL to extract the content as needed.

  • Many programs use fopen(), fread(), and fwrite() to create and manage files of data in home-grown formats. SQLite works particularly well as a replacement for these ad hoc data files.

  • It makes good sense to include SQLite in the mix of supported databases and to statically link the SQLite engine in with the client. That way the client program can be used standalone with an SQLite data file for testing or for demonstrations.


You can share your experiences with us in the comment section. Thank you!

Stock photo from Denis Mikheev

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