How can I sync data between a webserver and an android app?

Syncing data between your webserver and an android app requires a couple of different components on your android device.

Persistent Storage:

This is how your phone actually stores the data it receives from the webserver. One possible method for accomplishing this is writing your own custom ContentProvider backed by a Sqlite database. A decent tutorial for a content provider can be found here:
ContentProvider defines a consistent interface to interact with your stored data. It could also allow other applications to interact with your data if you wanted. Behind your ContentProvider could be a Sqlite database, a Cache, or any arbitrary storage mechanism.
While I would certainly recommend using a ContentProvider with a Sqlite database you could use any java based storage mechanism you wanted.

Data Interchange Format:

This is the format you use to send the data between your webserver and your android app. The two most popular formats these days are XML and JSON. When choosing your format, you should think about what sort of serialization libraries are available. I know off-hand that there's a fantastic library for json serialization called gson:, although I'm sure similar libraries exist for XML.

Synchronization Service

You'll want some sort of asynchronous task which can get new data from your server and refresh the mobile content to reflect the content of the server. You'll also want to notify the server whenever you make local changes to content and want to reflect those changes. Android provides the SyncAdapterpattern as a way to easily solve this pattern. You'll need to register user accounts, and then Android will perform lots of magic for you, and allow you to automatically sync. Here's a good tutorial:

As for how you identify if the records are the same, typically you'll create items with a unique id which you store both on the android device and the server. You can use that to make sure you're referring to the same reference. Furthermore, you can store column attributes like "updated_at" to make sure that you're always getting the freshest data, or you don't accidentally write over newly written data.

Source: StackOverFlow


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