Dropbox’s New Datastore API Lets Third-Party Apps Sync Data

In a bold move that takes the company beyond its traditional file syncing roots, Dropbox launched Datastore, an API that manages structured data, such as bookmarks, contacts, to do-list items, and game states. Dropbox made the announcement at its first DBX developer conference on Tuesday.

Datastores are “containers” or embedded databases for apps with sync built right in. The data syncing works similar to Dropbox's file syncing. Even when a device goes offline, an app continues to work with local data. When a user goes back online, Datastore syncs everything back up again.

Datastore is smart enough to handle changes made to data at the same time. For instance, if a user simultaneously updates a contact’s phone number and email address on two separate devices, Datastore will examine the structure of the app data and merge those changes without sync conflicts or any action from the user.

The company wrote in a blog post:

“When you use an app built with datastores your data will be up-to-date across all devices whether you’re online or offline. Imagine a task-tracking app that works on both your iPhone and the web. If it’s built with the Datastore API, you can check off items from your phone during a cross-country flight and add new tasks from your computer and Dropbox will make sure the changes don’t clobber each other.”

According to Techcrunch, Dropbox cofounder Drew Houston told reporters at DBX that the company had no plans to charge for the new service. The company will stick to the current business model of charging subscription fees for pro and business users.

Right now, Datastore supports single-user use cases, but multi-user scenarios are in the works, according to Dropbox employee Steve M., who made the comment in a Datastore discussion.

With the Datastore API, developers can avoid the headache of having to create their own sync platforms from scratch. Those interested should check out the Datastore API beta, available in iOS, Android, and JavaScript.

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