Sync or Stink: Why Some Apps Can't Handle Mobile Data

Mobile apps have transformed the way businesses work with data. For example, by automating and digitizing what were previously manual and error-prone tasks, mobile apps have made frontline workers more productive and the operational data they generate more actionable.

But that is only true when those workers have modern mobile apps that are fully integrated with back-end systems at the core of the network. Most mobile apps are often slow to load and sync data unreliably, frequently returning stale data or just outright crashing.

The reason for this is that data sync is hard. A lot of developer teams take a DIY approach to building sync. But building a sync tool that works in an offline-first environment, like mobile, can take months of complex work and require thousands of lines of code. And when development teams build mobile sync themselves, they often oversimplify the solution — so app data may only sync a few times a day or won’t sync bidirectionally. Building sync the right way — keeping data up-to-date in real-time whenever devices are connected — requires complicated networking and conflict resolution code. MongoDB Realm eliminates this complexity

We cover many of the technical difficulties of developing sync tools, including the pitfalls of DIY approaches, in our recent white paper, “Unlocking Value in Mobile Apps: 3 Best Practices for Mobile Data Sync.”

Data sync is absolutely essential for delivering good customer experiences, harnessing the value of mobile data for the business, and ultimately proving that investments in mobile technology are worth it. From getting real-time information to frontline workers to tracking fleets and getting timely inventory updates, mobile data has the potential to deliver true competitive advantage, but only if you’re working with a highly performant mobile platform.

When apps work right, users reward you by using the app and, hopefully, leaving positive feedback. Another good sign of a well-built app is that users ask for new features. Development teams that don’t have to worry about complicated conflict resolution code and an overly complex app architecture can focus on quickly developing new features and, in turn, creating better app experiences.

MongoDB Realm and Realm Sync include pre-built conflict resolution out of the box. The Realm Mobile Database — used alongside Realm Sync — is object-oriented, so it’s intuitive to mobile developers. Realm enables developers to focus on delivering competitive differentiation instead of worrying about building complicated data sync and conflict resolution tools. This speeds development and enables teams to turn around feature requests faster.

Realm Sync works alongside Realm Mobile Database to synchronize data bi-directionally between the Realm Mobile Database on the client and MongoDB Atlas on the back end.