Sights of the Realm: Mobile app DB hooks up with IBM Watson for image, text, face recog

And the code's on GitHub

Realm, which makes an object-based database for mobile applications, on Monday plans to introduce a version of its software for businesses with mobile apps that want to integrate application data with other services.

Realm Mobile Platform Professional Edition, said chief marketing officer Paul Kopacki in a phone briefing with The Register, represents an effort to make the company's real-time object-based database appealing to a broader audience.

"This is a about our vision to bring our ideas for a better data layer to developers," said Kopacki. "We see a world where mobile apps are much better and more powerful than they are today."

Realm offers a free open source, client-side version of its database called the Realm Mobile Database. The Realm Mobile Platform Developer Edition, also free but not open source, can synchronize client-side data with server-side data in real-time, more or less. And the Realm Mobile Platform Enterprise Edition includes extra features like server-side event handling, simplified integration with other systems, and hand-holding, sometimes referred to as technical support.

The Realm Mobile Database can be used with Android (Java), iOS (Objective-C, Swift), Xamarin (C#), and web apps (JavaScript, by way of React Native or Node.js). The company's Platform products work with Android or iOS.

The Professional Edition fits between the latter two options. Like the Enterprise Edition, it provides server-side event handling, can easily be integrated with other services, and includes support. But it doesn't sport the mid-five-figure price tag. Starting at $1,500 per month, it's aimed at developers and organizations with revenue-producing applications rather than those hoping to capitalize on a promising idea.

"Event handling is a powerful server-side bit of functionality that allows the server to trigger logic based on changes in the data," said Kopacki. "Maybe your app is gathering customer data and you want to get that to Salesforce on the backend. With Developer Edition, you couldn't really do it on server side."

For developers dealing with a mobile app, Realm's utility comes from the database's presence both on client devices and on the associated app's backend server. The software keeps both database instances in sync to the extent allowed by network conditions.

Having data available on the device helps the app respond quickly to interaction, insulates it from network access problems, and makes it unnecessary to write code to handle the process of fetching remote data and dealing with associated errors.

To help illustrate how to use Realm's Professional Edition effectively, the company has worked with IBM to create Realm Scanner, an open source mobile application that demonstrates how to use IBM Watson to implement image, text, or facial recognition using the Watson Visual Recognition API. The source code of the app is available on GitHub. ®

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