Wednesday, June 18, 2014

CloudKit: Moves Like Azure

Tom Harrington:

CloudKit makes a refreshing change from iCloud Core Data in that there’s a lot less magic going on in the framework. Using iCloud to sync Core Data is very slick, in that you can essentially treat changes from the cloud as if they had been made on a different thread. Changes get saved, you get notified, and you merge those changes and update the app state. Your code never concerns itself directly with the cloud aspects of its data. That’s when it works, of course. It does appear that iCloud with Core Data works much better than it did when I last tangled with it, but it’s still a magic box that abstracts away all of the work of dealing with the cloud.

In contrast CloudKit is not actually a sync mechanism. Instead it’s a transfer mechanism, where your app must explicitly initiate all data transfers. Starting with the CKDatabase class, your app gets local references to cloud-based databases. CloudKit’s API deals with that database as a specifically cloud-based entity. When new changes are available, you need to fetch CKRecord instances and convert them into something that fits your local model. When you have new outgoing changes, you need to create or update the appropriate CKRecord, again converting data as needed.

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As a result, using CloudKit will likely mean more code in your app than using iCloud with Core Data. On the other hand, CloudKit’s more direct and less magical approach to dealing with cloud-based data should be more reliable.

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