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Room Persistence Library

Room provides an abstraction layer over SQLite to allow fluent database access while harnessing the full power of SQLite.

Apps that handle non-trivial amounts of structured data can benefit greatly from persisting that data locally. The most common use case is to cache relevant pieces of data. That way, when the device cannot access the network, the user can still browse that content while they are offline. Any user-initiated content changes are then synced to the server after the device is back online.

The core framework provides built-in support for working with raw SQL content. Although these APIs are powerful, they are fairly low-level and require a great deal of time and effort to use:

Room takes care of these concerns for you while providing an abstraction layer over SQLite.

There are 3 major components in Room:

These components, along with their relationships with the rest of the app, appear in Figure 1:

The app uses the Room database to get the data access
  objects, or DAOs, associated with that database. The app then uses each DAO to
  get entities from the database and save any changes to those entities back to
  the database. Finally, the app uses an entity to get and set values that
  correspond to table columns within the database.
Figure 1. Room architecture diagram

The following code snippet contains a sample database configuration with 1 entity and 1 DAO:

User.java

@Entity
public class User {
    @PrimaryKey
    private int uid;

    @ColumnInfo(name = "first_name")
    private String firstName;

    @ColumnInfo(name = "last_name")
    private String lastName;

    // Getters and setters are ignored for brevity,
    // but they're required for Room to work.
}

UserDao.java

@Dao
public interface UserDao {
    @Query("SELECT * FROM user")
    List<User> getAll();

    @Query("SELECT * FROM user WHERE uid IN (:userIds)")
    List<User> loadAllByIds(int[] userIds);

    @Query("SELECT * FROM user WHERE first_name LIKE :first AND "
           + "last_name LIKE :last LIMIT 1")
    User findByName(String first, String last);

    @Insert
    void insertAll(User... users);

    @Delete
    void delete(User user);
}

AppDatabase.java

@Database(entities = {User.class}, version = 1)
public abstract class AppDatabase extends RoomDatabase {
    public abstract UserDao userDao();
}

After creating the files above, you get an instance of the created database using the following code:

AppDatabase db = Room.databaseBuilder(getApplicationContext(),
        AppDatabase.class, "database-name").build();

Entities

When a class is annotated with @Entity and is referenced in the entities property of a @Database annotation, Room creates a database table for that entity in the database.

By default, Room creates a column for each field that's defined in the entity. If an entity has fields that you don't want to persist, you can annotate them using @Ignore, as shown in the following code snippet:

@Entity
class User {
    @PrimaryKey
    public int id;

    public String firstName;
    public String lastName;

    @Ignore
    Bitmap picture;
}

To persist a field, Room must have access to it. You can make a field public, or you can provide a setter and getter for it. If you use setter and getter methods, keep in mind that they're based on JavaBeans conventions in Room.

Primary key

Each entity must define at least 1 field as a primary key. Even when there is only 1 field, you still need to annotate the field with the @PrimaryKey annotation. Also, if you want Room to assign automatic IDs to entities, you can set the @PrimaryKey's autoGenerate property. If the entity has a composite primary key, you can use the primaryKeys property of the @Entity annotation, as shown in the following code snippet:

@Entity(primaryKeys = {"firstName", "lastName"})
class User {
    public String firstName;
    public String lastName;

    @Ignore
    Bitmap picture;
}

By default, Room uses the class name as the database table name. If you want the table to have a different name, set the tableName property of the @Entity annotation, as shown in the following code snippet:

@Entity(tableName = "users")
class User {
    ...
}

Caution: Table names in SQLite are case insensitive.

Similar to the tableName property, Room uses the field names as the column names in the database. If you want a column to have a different name, add the @ColumnInfo annotation to a field, as shown in the following code snippet:

@Entity(tableName = "users")
class User {
    @PrimaryKey
    public int id;

    @ColumnInfo(name = "first_name")
    public String firstName;

    @ColumnInfo(name = "last_name")
    public String lastName;

    @Ignore
    Bitmap picture;
}

Indices and uniqueness

Depending on how you access the data, you might want to index certain fields in the database to speed up your queries. To add indices to an entity, include the indices property within the @Entity annotation, listing the names of the columns that you want to include in the index or composite index. The following code snippet demonstrates this annotation process:

@Entity(indices = {@Index("name"),
        @Index(value = {"last_name", "address"})})
class User {
    @PrimaryKey
    public int id;

    public String firstName;
    public String address;

    @ColumnInfo(name = "last_name")
    public String lastName;

    @Ignore
    Bitmap picture;
}

Sometimes, certain fields or groups of fields in a database must be unique. You can enforce this uniqueness property by setting the unique property of an @Index annotation to true. The following code sample prevents a table from having two rows that contain the same set of values for the firstName and lastName columns:

@Entity(indices = {@Index(value = {"first_name", "last_name"},
        unique = true)})
class User {
    @PrimaryKey
    public int id;

    @ColumnInfo(name = "first_name")
    public String firstName;

    @ColumnInfo(name = "last_name")
    public String lastName;

    @Ignore
    Bitmap picture;
}

Relationships between objects

Because SQLite is a relational database, you can specify relationships between objects. Even though most object-relational mapping libraries allow entity objects to reference each other, Room explicitly forbids this. To learn about the technical reasoning behind this decision, see Room doesn't allow object references between entities.

Even though you cannot use direct relationships, Room still allows you to define Foreign Key constraints between entities.

For example, if there's another entity called Book, you can define its relationship to the User entity using the @ForeignKey annotation, as shown in the following code snippet:

@Entity(foreignKeys = @ForeignKey(entity = User.class,
                                  parentColumns = "id",
                                  childColumns = "user_id"))
class Book {
    @PrimaryKey
    public int bookId;

    public String title;

    @ColumnInfo(name = "user_id")
    public int userId;
}

Foreign keys are very powerful, as they allow you to specify what occurs when the referenced entity is updated. For instance, you can tell SQLite to delete all books for a user if the corresponding instance of User is deleted by including onDelete = CASCADE in the @ForeignKey annotation.

Nested objects

Sometimes, you'd like to express an entity or plain old Java object (POJOs) as a cohesive whole in your database logic, even if the object contains several fields. In these situations, you can use the @Embedded annotation to represent an object that you'd like to decompose into its subfields within a table. You can then query the embedded fields just as you would for other individual columns.

For instance, our User class can include a field of type Address, which represents a composition of fields named street, city, state, and postCode. To store the composed columns separately in the table, include an Address field in the User class that is annotated with @Embedded, as shown in the following code snippet:

class Address {
    public String street;
    public String state;
    public String city;

    @ColumnInfo(name = "post_code")
    public int postCode;
}

@Entity
class User {
    @PrimaryKey
    public int id;

    public String firstName;

    @Embedded
    public Address address;
}

The table representing a User object then contains columns with the following names: id, firstName, street, state, city, and post_code.

If an entity has multiple embedded fields of the same type, you can keep each column unique by setting the prefix property. Room then adds the provided value to the beginning of each column name in the embedded object.

Data Access Objects (DAOs)

The main component in Room is the Dao class. DAOs abstract access to the database in a clean way.

A Dao can be either an interface or an abstract class. If it is an abstract class, it can optionally have a constructor that takes a RoomDatabase as its only parameter.

Methods for convenience

There are multiple convenience queries that you can represent using a DAO class. This document includes several common examples.

Insert

When you create a DAO method and annotate it with @Insert, Room generates an implementation that inserts all parameters into the database in a single transaction.

The following code snippet shows several example queries:

@Dao
public interface MyDao {
    @Insert(onConflict = OnConflictStrategy.REPLACE)
    public void insertUsers(User... users);

    @Insert
    public void insertBothUsers(User user1, User user2);

    @Insert
    public void insertUsersAndFriends(User user, List<User> friends);
}

If the @Insert method receives only 1 parameter, it can return a long, which is the new rowId for the inserted item. If the parameter is an array or a collection, it should return long[] or List<Long> instead.

For more details, see the reference documentation for the @Insert annotation, as well as the SQLite documentation for rowid tables.

Update

The Update convenience method modifies a set of entities, given as parameters, in the database. It uses a query that matches against the primary key of each entity.

The following code snippet demonstrates how to define this method:

@Dao
public interface MyDao {
    @Update
    public void updateUsers(User... users);
}

Although usually not necessary, you can have this method return an int value instead, indicating the number of rows updated in the database.

Delete

The Delete convenience method removes a set of entities, given as parameters, from the database. It uses the primary keys to find the entities to delete.

The following code snippet demonstrates how to define this method:

@Dao
public interface MyDao {
    @Delete
    public void deleteUsers(User... users);
}

Although usually not necessary, you can have this method return an int value instead, indicating the number of rows removed from the database.

Methods using @Query

@Query is the main annotation used in DAO classes. It allows you to perform read/write operations on a database. Each @Query method is verified at compile time, so if there is a problem with the query, a compilation error occurs instead of a runtime failure.

Room also verifies the return value of the query such that if the name of the field in the returned object doesn't match the corresponding column names in the query response, Room alerts you in one of the following two ways:

Simple queries

@Dao
public interface MyDao {
    @Query("SELECT * FROM user")
    public User[] loadAllUsers();
}

This is a very simple query that loads all users. At compile time, Room knows that it is querying all columns in the user table. If the query contains a syntax error, or if the user table doesn't exist in the database, Room displays an error with the appropriate message as your app compiles.

Passing parameters into the query

Most of the time, you need to pass parameters into queries to perform filtering operations, such as displaying only users who are older than a certain age. To accomplish this task, use method parameters in your Room annotation, as shown in the following code snippet:

@Dao
public interface MyDao {
    @Query("SELECT * FROM user WHERE age > :minAge")
    public User[] loadAllUsersOlderThan(int minAge);
}

When this query is processed at compile time, Room matches the :minAge bind parameter with the minAge method parameter. Room performs the match using the parameter names. If there is a mismatch, an error occurs as your app compiles.

You can also pass multiple parameters or reference them multiple times in a query, as shown in the following code snippet:

@Dao
public interface MyDao {
    @Query("SELECT * FROM user WHERE age BETWEEN :minAge AND :maxAge")
    public User[] loadAllUsersBetweenAges(int minAge, int maxAge);

    @Query("SELECT * FROM user WHERE first_name LIKE :search "
           + "OR last_name LIKE :search")
    public List<User> findUserWithName(String search);
}

Returning subsets of columns

Most of the time, you need to get only a few fields of an entity. For example, your UI might display just a user's first name and last name, rather than every detail about the user. By fetching only the columns that appear in your app's UI, you save valuable resources, and your query completes more quickly.

Room allows you to return any Java-based object from your queries as long as the set of result columns can be mapped into the returned object. For example, you can create the following plain old Java-based object (POJO) to fetch the user's first name and last name:

public class NameTuple {
    @ColumnInfo(name="first_name")
    public String firstName;

    @ColumnInfo(name="last_name")
    public String lastName;
}

Now, you can use this POJO in your query method:

@Dao
public interface MyDao {
    @Query("SELECT first_name, last_name FROM user")
    public List<NameTuple> loadFullName();
}

Room understands that the query returns values for the first_name and last_name columns and that these values can be mapped into the fields of the NameTuple class. Therefore, Room can generate the proper code. If the query returns too many columns, or a column that doesn't exist in the NameTuple class, Room displays a warning.

Passing a collection of arguments

Some of your queries might require you to pass in a variable number of parameters, with the exact number of parameters not known until runtime. For example, you might want to retrieve information about all users from a subset of regions. Room understands when a parameter represents a collection and automatically expands it at runtime based on the number of parameters provided.

@Dao
public interface MyDao {
    @Query("SELECT first_name, last_name FROM user WHERE region IN (:regions)")
    public List<NameTuple> loadUsersFromRegions(List<String> regions);
}

Observable queries

When performing queries, you'll often want your app's UI to update automatically when the data changes. To achieve this, use a return value of type LiveData in your query method description. Room generates all necessary code to update the LiveData when the database is updated.

@Dao
public interface MyDao {
    @Query("SELECT first_name, last_name FROM user WHERE region IN (:regions)")
    public LiveData<List<User>> loadUsersFromRegionsSync(List<String> regions);
}

Reactive queries with RxJava

Room can also return RxJava2 Publisher and Flowable objects from the queries you define. To use this functionality, add the android.arch.persistence.room:rxjava2 artifact from the Room group into your build Gradle dependencies. You can then return objects of types defined in RxJava2, as shown in the following code snippet:

@Dao
public interface MyDao {
    @Query("SELECT * from user where id = :id LIMIT 1")
    public Flowable<User> loadUserById(int id);
}

For more details, see the Google Developers Room and RxJava article.

Direct cursor access

If your app's logic requires direct access to the return rows, you can return a Cursor object from your queries, as shown in the following code snippet:

@Dao
public interface MyDao {
    @Query("SELECT * FROM user WHERE age > :minAge LIMIT 5")
    public Cursor loadRawUsersOlderThan(int minAge);
}

Caution: It's highly discouraged to work with the Cursor API because it doesn't guarantee whether the rows exist or what values the rows contain. Use this functionality only if you already have code that expects a cursor and that you can't refactor easily.

Querying multiple tables

Some of your queries might require access to multiple tables to calculate the result. Room allows you to write any query, so you can also join tables. Furthermore, if the response is an observable data type, such as Flowable or LiveData, Room watches all tables referenced in the query for invalidation.

The following code snippet shows how to perform a table join to consolidate information between a table containing users who are borrowing books and a table containing data about books currently on loan:

@Dao
public interface MyDao {
    @Query("SELECT * FROM book "
           + "INNER JOIN loan ON loan.book_id = book.id "
           + "INNER JOIN user ON user.id = loan.user_id "
           + "WHERE user.name LIKE :userName")
   public List<Book> findBooksBorrowedByNameSync(String userName);
}

You can also return POJOs from these queries. For example, you can write a query that loads a user and their pet's name as follows:

@Dao
public interface MyDao {
   @Query("SELECT user.name AS userName, pet.name AS petName "
          + "FROM user, pet "
          + "WHERE user.id = pet.user_id")
   public LiveData<List<UserPet>> loadUserAndPetNames();

   // You can also define this class in a separate file, as long as you add the
   // "public" access modifier.
   static class UserPet {
       public String userName;
       public String petName;
   }
}

Testing DAOs

The recommended approach for testing DAO classes is to use instrumentation tests. Since instrumentation tests don't require a UI, they run faster than tests that do. For each test, you can create an in-memory database to ensure that the test doesn't have any side effects, such as changing the database files on the disk.

Room also supports specifying the database implementation so you can test it by providing the JUnit implementation of the SupportSQLiteOpenHelper. This approach is usually not recommended because the SQLite version running on the device may differ from the SQLite version on your host machine.

To learn more about testing Architecture Components, see the testing section of the Guide to App Architecture. You can also find examples of tests in the Android Architecture Components samples.

Using type converters

Sometimes, your app needs to use a custom data type whose value you would like to store in a single database column. To add this kind of support for custom types, you provide a TypeConverter, which converts a custom class to and from a known type that Room can persist.

For example, if we want to persist instances of Date, we can write the following TypeConverter to store the equivalent Unix timestamp in the database:

public class Converters {
    @TypeConverter
    public static Date fromTimestamp(Long value) {
        return value == null ? null : new Date(value);
    }

    @TypeConverter
    public static Long dateToTimestamp(Date date) {
        return date == null ? null : date.getTime();
    }
}

The preceding example defines 2 functions, one that converts a Date object to a Long object and another that performs the inverse conversion, from Long to Date. Since Room already knows how to persist Long objects, it can use this converter to persist values of type Date.

Next, you add the @TypeConverters annotation to the AppDatabase class so that Room can use the converter that you've defined for each entity and DAO in that AppDatabase:

AppDatabase.java

@Database(entities = {User.class}, version = 1)
@TypeConverters({Converters.class})
public abstract class AppDatabase extends RoomDatabase {
    public abstract UserDao userDao();
}

Using these converters, you can then use your custom types in other queries, just as you would use primitive types, as shown in the following code snippet:

User.java

@Entity
public class User {
    ...
    private Date birthday;
}

UserDao.java

@Dao
public interface UserDao {
    ...
    @Query("SELECT * FROM user WHERE birthday BETWEEN :from AND :to")
    List<User> findUsersBornBetweenDates(Date from, Date to);
}

You can also limit the @TypeConverters to different scopes, including individual entities, DAOs, and DAO methods. For more details, see the reference documentation for the @TypeConverters annotation.

Database migration

As you add and change features in your app, you need to modify your entity classes to reflect these changes. When a user updates to the latest version of your app, you don't want them to lose all of their existing data, especially if you can't recover the data from a remote server.

Room allows you to write Migration classes to preserve user data in this manner. Each Migration class specifies a startVersion and endVersion. At runtime, Room runs each Migration class's migrate() method, using the correct order to migrate the database to a later version.

Caution: If you don't provide the necessary migrations, Room rebuilds the database instead, which means you'll lose all of your data in the database.

Room.databaseBuilder(getApplicationContext(), MyDb.class, "database-name")
        .addMigrations(MIGRATION_1_2, MIGRATION_2_3).build();

static final Migration MIGRATION_1_2 = new Migration(1, 2) {
    @Override
    public void migrate(SupportSQLiteDatabase database) {
        database.execSQL("CREATE TABLE `Fruit` (`id` INTEGER, "
                + "`name` TEXT, PRIMARY KEY(`id`))");
    }
};

static final Migration MIGRATION_2_3 = new Migration(2, 3) {
    @Override
    public void migrate(SupportSQLiteDatabase database) {
        database.execSQL("ALTER TABLE Book "
                + " ADD COLUMN pub_year INTEGER");
    }
};

Caution: To keep your migration logic functioning as expected, use full queries instead of referencing constants that represent the queries.

After the migration process finishes, Room validates the schema to ensure that the migration occurred correctly. If Room finds a problem, it throws an exception that contains the mismatched information.

Testing migrations

Migrations aren't trivial to write, and failure to write them properly could cause a crash loop in your app. To preserve your app's stability, you should test your migrations beforehand. Room provides a testing Maven artifact to assist with this testing process. However, for this artifact to work, you need to export your database's schema.

Exporting schemas

Upon compilation, Room exports your database's schema information into a JSON file. To export the schema, set the room.schemaLocation annotation processor property in your build.gradle file, as shown in the following code snippet:

build.gradle

android {
    ...
    defaultConfig {
        ...
        javaCompileOptions {
            annotationProcessorOptions {
                arguments = ["room.schemaLocation":
                             "$projectDir/schemas".toString()]
            }
        }
    }
}

You should store the exported JSON files—which represent your database's schema history—in your version control system, as it allows Room to create older versions of your database for testing purposes.

To test these migrations, add the android.arch.persistence.room:testing Maven artifact from Room into your test dependencies, and add the schema location as an asset folder, as shown in the following code snippet:

build.gradle

android {
    ...
    sourceSets {
        androidTest.assets.srcDirs += files("$projectDir/schemas".toString())
    }
}

The testing package provides a MigrationTestHelper class, which can read these schema files. It also implements the JUnit4 TestRule interface, so it can manage created databases.

A sample migration test appears in the following code snippet:

@RunWith(AndroidJUnit4.class)
public class MigrationTest {
    private static final String TEST_DB = "migration-test";

    @Rule
    public MigrationTestHelper helper;

    public MigrationTest() {
        helper = new MigrationTestHelper(InstrumentationRegistry.getInstrumentation(),
                MigrationDb.class.getCanonicalName(),
                new FrameworkSQLiteOpenHelperFactory());
    }

    @Test
    public void migrate1To2() throws IOException {
        SupportSQLiteDatabase db = helper.createDatabase(TEST_DB, 1);

        // db has schema version 1. insert some data using SQL queries.
        // You cannot use DAO classes because they expect the latest schema.
        db.execSQL(...);

        // Prepare for the next version.
        db.close();

        // Re-open the database with version 2 and provide
        // MIGRATION_1_2 as the migration process.
        db = helper.runMigrationsAndValidate(TEST_DB, 2, true, MIGRATION_1_2);

        // MigrationTestHelper automatically verifies the schema changes,
        // but you need to validate that the data was migrated properly.
    }
}

Testing your database

When running tests for your app, you shouldn't need to create a full database if you are not testing the database itself. Room allows you to easily mock the data access layer in your tests. This process is possible because your DAOs don't leak any details of your database. When testing the rest of your application, you should create mock or fake instances of your DAO classes.

There are 2 ways to test your database:

Testing on your host machine

Room uses the SQLite Support Library, which provides interfaces that match those in the Android Framework classes. This support allows you to pass custom implementations of the support library to test your database queries.

Even though this setup allows your tests to run very quickly, it isn't recommended because the version of SQLite running on your device—and your users' devices—might not match the version on your host machine.

Testing on an Android device

The recommended approach for testing your database implementation is writing a JUnit test that runs on an Android device. Because these tests don't require creating an activity, they should be faster to execute than your UI tests.

When setting up your tests, you should create an in-memory version of your database to make your tests more hermetic, as shown in the following example:

@RunWith(AndroidJUnit4.class)
public class SimpleEntityReadWriteTest {
    private UserDao mUserDao;
    private TestDatabase mDb;

    @Before
    public void createDb() {
        Context context = InstrumentationRegistry.getTargetContext();
        mDb = Room.inMemoryDatabaseBuilder(context, TestDatabase.class).build();
        mUserDao = mDb.getUserDao();
    }

    @After
    public void closeDb() throws IOException {
        mDb.close();
    }

    @Test
    public void writeUserAndReadInList() throws Exception {
        User user = TestUtil.createUser(3);
        user.setName("george");
        mUserDao.insert(user);
        List<User> byName = mUserDao.findUsersByName("george");
        assertThat(byName.get(0), equalTo(user));
    }
}

For more information about testing your database migrations, see Migration Testing.

Room doesn't allow object references between entities

Key takeaway: Room disallows object references between entity classes. Instead, you must explicitly request the data that your app needs.

Mapping relationships from a database to the respective object model is a common practice and works very well on the server side. Even when the program loads fields as they're accessed, the server still performs well.

However, on the client side, this type of lazy loading isn't feasible because it usually occurs on the UI thread, and querying information on disk in the UI thread creates significant performance problems. The UI thread typically has about 16 ms to calculate and draw an activity's updated layout, so even if a query takes only 5 ms, it's still likely that your app will run out of time to draw the frame, causing noticeable visual glitches. The query could take even more time to complete if there's a separate transaction running in parallel, or if the device is running other disk-intensive tasks. If you don't use lazy loading, however, your app fetches more data than it needs, creating memory consumption problems.

Object-relational mappings usually leave this decision to developers so that they can do whatever is best for their app's use cases. Developers usually decide to share the model between their app and the UI. This solution doesn't scale well, however, because as the UI changes over time, the shared model creates problems that are difficult for developers to anticipate and debug.

For example, consider a UI that loads a list of Book objects, with each book having an Author object. You might initially design your queries to use lazy loading such that instances of Book use a getAuthor() method to return the author. The first invocation of the getAuthor() call queries the database. Some time later, you realize that you need to display the author name in your app's UI, as well. You can add the method call easily enough, as shown in the following code snippet:

authorNameTextView.setText(user.getAuthor().getName());

However, this seemingly innocent change causes the Author table to be queried on the main thread.

If you query author information ahead of time, it becomes difficult to change how data is loaded if you no longer need that data. For example, if your app's UI no longer needs to display Author information, your app effectively loads data that it no longer displays, wasting valuable memory space. Your app's efficiency degrades even further if the Author class references another table, such as Books.

To reference multiple entities at the same time using Room, you instead create a POJO that contains each entity, then write a query that joins the corresponding tables. This well-structured model, combined with Room's robust query validation capabilities, allows your app to consume fewer resources when loading data, improving your app's performance and user experience.

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