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Atlas Device SDKs

Model Data - Swift SDK

On this page

  • Object Types & Schemas
  • Realm Schema
  • Model Inheritance
  • Swift Structs
  • Properties
  • View Models with Realm
  • Relationships
  • To-One Relationship
  • To-Many Relationship
  • Inverse Relationship

Realm applications model data as objects composed of field-value pairs that each contain one or more supported data types.

Realm objects are regular Swift or Objective-C classes, but they also bring a few additional features like live queries. The Swift SDK memory maps Realm objects directly to native Swift or Objective-C objects, which means there's no need to use a special data access library, such as an ORM. Instead, you can work with Realm objects as you would any other class instance.

Every Realm object conforms to a specific object type, which is essentially a class that defines the properties and relationships for objects of that type. Realm guarantees that all objects in a realm conform to the schema for their object type and validates objects whenever they're created, modified, or deleted.


The following schema defines a Dog object type with a string name, optional string breed, date of birth, and primary key ID.

A realm schema is a list of valid object schemas that a realm may contain. Every Realm object must conform to an object type that's included in its realm's schema.

By default, the Swift SDK automatically adds all classes in your project that derive from RLMObject or RLMEmbeddedObject to the realm schema.


Configure Your Realm Schema

To control which classes Realm adds to a realm schema, see Provide a Subset of Classes to a Realm.

If a realm already contains data when you open it, Realm validates each object to ensure that an object schema was provided for its type and that it meets all of the constraints specified in the schema.


Learn How to Work With a Realm

For code examples that show how to configure and open a realm in the Swift SDK, see Configure & Open a Realm - Swift SDK.

You can subclass Realm models to share behavior between classes, but there are limitations. In particular, Realm does not allow you to:

  • Cast between polymorphic classes: subclass to subclass, subclass to parent, parent to subclass

  • Query on multiple classes simultaneously: for example, "get all instances of parent class and subclass"

  • Multi-class containers: List and Results with a mixture of parent and subclass


Check out the code samples for working around these limitations.

New in version 10.10.0: While you can't mix @Persisted and @objc dynamic property declarations within a class, you can mix the notation styles across base and subclasses. For example, a base class could have a @Persisted var foo: Int property, and a subclass could have an @objc dynamic var bar = 0 property, with both persisted. However, the @objc dynamic property would be ignored if the @Persisted property were within the same base or subclass.

Realm does not support Swift structs as models for a variety of reasons. Realm's design focuses on "live" objects. This concept is not compatible with value type structs. By design, Realm provides features that are incompatible with these semantics, such as:

That said, it is sometimes useful to detach objects from their backing realm. This typically isn't an ideal design decision. Instead, developers use this as a workaround for temporary limitations in our library.

You can use key-value coding to initialize an unmanaged object as a copy of a managed object. Then, you can work with that unmanaged object like any other NSObject.

let standaloneModelObject = MyModel(value: persistedModelObject)

Your Realm object model is a collection of properties. On the most basic level, when you create your model, your declarations give Realm information about each property:

  • The data type and whether the property is optional or required

  • Whether Realm should store or ignore the property

  • Whether the property is a primary key or should be indexed

Properties are also the mechanism for establishing relationships between Realm object types.

The Realm Swift SDK uses reflection to determine the properties in your models at runtime. Your project must not set SWIFT_REFLECTION_METADATA_LEVEL = none, or Realm cannot discover children of types, such as properties and enum cases. Reflection is enabled by default if your project does not specifically set a level for this setting.

New in version 10.21.0.

You can work with a subset of your Realm object's properties by creating a class projection. A class projection is a class that passes through or transforms some or all of your Realm object's properties. Class projection enables you to build view models that use an abstraction of your object model. This simplifies using and testing Realm objects in your application.

With class projection, you can use a subset of your object's properties directly in the UI or transform them. When you use a class projection for this, you get all the benefits of Realm's live objects:

  • The class-projected object live updates

  • You can observe it for changes

  • You can apply changes directly to the properties in write transactions

Realm doesn't use bridge tables or explicit joins to define relationships as you would in a relational database. Realm handles relationships through embedded objects or reference properties to other Realm objects. You read from and write to these properties directly. This makes querying relationships as performant as querying against any other property.

Realm supports to-one, to-many, and inverse relationships.

A to-one relationship means that an object relates to one other object. You define a to-one relationship for an object type in its object schema. Specify a property where the type is the related Realm object type. For example, a dog might have a to-one relationship with a favorite toy.


To learn how to define a to-one relationship, see Define a To-One Relationship Property.

A to-many relationship means that an object relates to more than one other object. In Realm, a to-many relationship is a list of references to other objects. For example, a person might have many dogs.

A List represents the to-many relationship between two Realm types. Lists are mutable: within a write transaction, you can add and remove elements to and from a list. Lists are not associated with a query and are usually declared as a property of an object model.


To learn how to define a to-many relationship, see Define a To-Many Relationship Property.

Relationship definitions in Realm are unidirectional. An inverse relationship links an object back to an object that refers to it. You must explicitly define a property in the object's model as an inverse relationship. Inverse relationships can link back to objects in a to-one or to-many relationship.

A LinkingObjects collection represents the inverse relationship between two Realm types. You cannot directly add or remove items from a LinkingObjects collection.

Inverse relationships automatically update themselves with corresponding backlinks. You can find the same set of Realm objects with a manual query, but the inverse relationship field reduces boilerplate query code and capacity for error.

For example, consider a task tracker with the to-many relationship "User has many Tasks". This does not automatically create the inverse relationship "Task belongs to User". To create the inverse relationship, add a User property on the Task that points back to the task's owner. When you specify the inverse relationship from task to user, you can query on that. If you don't specify the inverse relationship, you must run a separate query to look up the user to whom the task is assigned.


You cannot manually set the value of an inverse relationship property. Instead, Realm updates implicit relationships when you add or remove an object in the relationship.

Relationships can be many-to-one or many-to-many. So following inverse relationships can result in zero, one, or many objects.


To learn how to define an inverse relationship, see Define an Inverse Relationship Property.

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