If you've been developing mobile applications for a while, or even if you're new to the field, you're probably aware that there can be quite a gap between which technologies are most hyped and discussed in the technology trade publications and which technologies actually work for your customers. While wireless data proponents excitedly trumpeted the arrival of WAP a couple of years back, the reality was that WAP was not a one-size-fits-all solution for every mobile application. While it's perfectly acceptable for users who are interested in retrieving quick bursts of information (customer information, stock quotes, delivery info, and so on), WAP isn't a good fit for data-intensive applications or for those apps that require a rich user interface. The need to manipulate larger amounts of data, combined with the slow speedsand often the unavailabilityof current wireless data networks leads many applications to require a local relational database on the mobile laptop or PDA. As you might expect, the traditional database powerhousesIBM, Oracle, Sybase, and Microsofthave all developed mobile database offerings that work in conjunction with their enterprise database products. In addition, a number of smaller companies, including PointBase and Cloudscape, have found a successful niche in the mobile market.
This article marks the start of a series of reviews of several popular mobile database products, including Sybase SQL Anywhere Studio 8.0, Oracle9i Lite, Microsoft SQL Server CE, and the PointBase RDBMS. As we will see, each of these products includes support for a variety of programming languages and operating environments. In addition, they all include synchronization support for replicating data to/from enterprise data sources.
To kick things off, let's look at the latest version of the market-leading database from Sybase: SQL Anywhere Studio 8.0.