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Database Persistence

Since v4.0, there are various options for persisting Store data to and from SQLite databases, via a range of third-party modules.

There are currently seven SQLite-based persistence options:

PersisterStorage
Sqlite3PersisterSQLite in Node, via sqlite3
SqliteWasmPersisterSQLite in a browser, via sqlite-wasm
ExpoSqlitePersisterSQLite in React Native, via expo-sqlite
CrSqliteWasmPersisterSQLite CRDTs, via cr-sqlite-wasm
ElectricSqlPersisterElectric SQL, via electric
LibSqlPersisterLibSQL for Turso, via libsql-client
PowerSyncPersisterPowerSync, via powersync-sdk

(Take a look at the vite-tinybase-ts-react-crsqlite template, for example, which demonstrates Vulcan's cr-sqlite to provide persistence and synchronization via the third of these.)

Each creation function takes a database reference, and a DatabasePersisterConfig object to describe its configuration. There are two modes for persisting a Store with a database:

  • A JSON serialization of the whole Store, which is stored in a single row of a table (normally called tinybase) within the database. This is configured by providing a DpcJson object.
  • A tabular mapping of Table Ids to database table names (and vice-versa). Values are stored in a separate special table (normally called tinybase_values). This is configured by providing a DpcTabular object.

Note that changes made to the database (outside of a Persister) are picked up immediately if they are made via the same connection or library that it is using. If the database is being changed by another client, the Persister needs to poll for changes. Hence both configuration types also contain an autoLoadIntervalSeconds property which indicates how often it should do that. This defaults to 1 second.

Using JSON Serialization

To get started, we'll use JSON serialization to save a Store to SQLite in the browser, via the sqlite-wasm module.

Firstly, use the module to initiate a database. Here it will be created in memory, but typically you would use the origin private file system (OPFS) as a storage back-end.

import {createSqliteWasmPersister} from 'tinybase/persisters/persister-sqlite-wasm';
import {createStore} from 'tinybase';
import sqlite3InitModule from '@sqlite.org/sqlite-wasm';

const sqlite3 = await sqlite3InitModule();
let db = new sqlite3.oo1.DB(':memory:', 'c');

Next create a simple Store with a small amount of data:

const store = createStore().setTables({pets: {fido: {species: 'dog'}}});

The Persister itself is created with the createSqliteWasmPersister method. This requires a reference to the the sqlite3 module itself and the database. We're not providing any configuration so it will use JSON serialization into the default table (namely one called tinybase).

const jsonPersister = createSqliteWasmPersister(store, sqlite3, db);

Now we can use the Persister to save data to the Store. Of course you can also use the startAutoSave method to make it automatic.

await jsonPersister.save();

And we can check the database to ensure the data has been stored:

console.log(db.exec('SELECT * FROM tinybase;', {rowMode: 'object'}));
// -> [{_id: '_', store: '[{"pets":{"fido":{"species":"dog"}}},{}]'}]

If the data in the database is changed...

db.exec(
  'UPDATE tinybase SET store = ' +
    `'[{"pets":{"felix":{"species":"cat"}}},{}]' WHERE _id = '_';`,
);

...it can be picked up by loading it explicitly or with auto-loading:

await jsonPersister.load();
console.log(store.getTables());
// -> {pets: {felix: {species: 'cat'}}}

jsonPersister.destroy();

Please see the DpcJson documentation for more detail on configuring this type of persistence.

Using Tabular Mapping

More flexibly, you can map distinct Store Tables to database tables and back again. This is likely a more suitable approach if you are binding TinyBase to existing data.

To use this technique, you must provide a DatabasePersisterConfig object when you create the Persister, and specify how you would like Store Tables (and Values) to correspond to tables in the database.

It is important to note that both the tabular mapping in ('save') and out ('load') of an underlying database are disabled by default. This is to ensure that if you pass in an existing populated database you don't run the immediate risk of corrupting or losing all your data.

This configuration therefore takes a tables property object (with child load and save property objects) and a values property object. One of these at least is required for the Persister to do anything!

Let's demonstrate. We start by creating a new database and resetting the data in the Store to put into it:

db = new sqlite3.oo1.DB(':memory:', 'c');
store.setTables({
  pets: {felix: {species: 'cat'}, fido: {species: 'dog'}},
  species: {dog: {price: 5}, cat: {price: 4}},
});

The persister itself has a more complex configuration as described above:

const tabularPersister = createSqliteWasmPersister(store, sqlite3, db, {
  mode: 'tabular',
  tables: {
    save: {pets: 'pets', species: 'animal_species'},
    load: {pets: 'pets', animal_species: 'species'},
  },
});

Notice how there is a symmetric mapping of Store Table to database table and vice-versa. It is deliberate that this must be spelled out like this, so that your intent to connect to (or especially mutate) existing data is very explicit.

Again, we can save the Store...

await tabularPersister.save();

...and see the resulting data in the SQLite database:

console.log(db.exec('SELECT * FROM pets;', {rowMode: 'object'}));
// -> [{_id: 'felix', species: 'cat'}, {_id: 'fido', species: 'dog'}]
console.log(db.exec('SELECT * FROM animal_species;', {rowMode: 'object'}));
// -> [{_id: 'dog', price: 5}, {_id: 'cat', price: 4}]

And, as expected, making a change to the database and re-loading brings the changes back into the Store:

db.exec(`INSERT INTO pets (_id, species) VALUES ('cujo', 'wolf')`);
await tabularPersister.load();
console.log(store.getTable('pets'));
// -> {felix: {species: 'cat'}, fido: {species: 'dog'}, cujo: {species: 'wolf'}}

tabularPersister.destroy();

Store Values are saved into a separate table, normally called tinybase_values. See the DpcTabularValues documentation for examples of how to use that.

Working With An Existing Database

In theory, it's possible to bind TinyBase to a SQLite database that already exists. You will obviously want to list the tables of interest in the load section of the configuration.

Do be aware that TinyBase is an in-memory data structure, and so you will not want to do this if your database tables are particularly large and complex.

Also be very careful when setting the save configuration, since it will mean that TinyBase writes its version of the data back to the database (optionally removing empty columns). If there is data that does not survive the round trip (because of schema constraints or data typing), it will be lost.

The Persister maps a column in the database table to provide and store the Store Table's Row Ids. By default, this is a database column called _id, but you can set it to be something else, per table. It is required that this column is a primary or unique key in the database so that the Persister knows how to update existing records.

So for example, imagine your existing database table looks like this, with the first column of each table being a primary key:

> SELECT * FROM the_pets_table;
+--------+---------+-------+
| pet_id | species | color |
+--------+---------+-------+
| fido   | dog     | brown |
| felix  | cat     | black |
+--------+---------+-------+

> SELECT * FROM the_species_table;
+------------+-------+
| species_id | price |
+------------+-------+
| dog        | 5     |
| cat        | 4     |
+------------+-------+

For this, you may consider the following configuration for your Persister:

const databasePersisterConfig: DatabasePersisterConfig = {
  mode: 'tabular',
  tables: {
    load: {
      the_pets_table: {tableId: 'pets', rowIdColumnName: 'pet_id'},
      the_species_table: {tableId: 'species', rowIdColumnName: 'species_id'},
    },
    save: {
      pets: {tableId: 'the_pets_table', rowIdColumnName: 'pet_id'},
      species: {tableId: 'the_species_table', rowIdColumnName: 'species_id'},
    },
  },
};

This will load into a Store (and save back again) with Tables that look like this:

{
  "pets": {
    "fido": {"species": "dog", "color": "brown"},
    "felix": {"species": "cat", "color": "black"}
  },
  "species": {
    "dog": {"price": 5},
    "cat": {"price": 4}
  }
}

Summary

With care, you can load and save Store data from and to a SQLite database in a variety of ways and via different modules. This is new in v4.0, so feedback on the functionality is welcomed!

Next we move on to look at how to fully synchronize TinyBase Stores using more complex CRDT frameworks, such as Yjs and Automerge, in the Third-Party CRDT Persistence guide.