Last year was a busy one in the world of Offline First, with the community doing great things to spread the word about the importance of building applications so they always function, even without a network connection. There were some great discussions – appropriately both online and offline – which saw the birth of a tonne of new and interesting projects.

What was missing in 2016 was an in-person event for fans of offline first application development in Europe. But that will change in 2017, when Offline Camp comes to Berlin – a hub for camp supporters and Apache CouchDB™ community members – for its third gathering. Offline Camp Berlin, announced this week, will take place April 28 – May 1, at Schloss Blankensee. Just be sure to register soon, as there are only 30 spots available!

Register for Offline Camp Berlin

As we look forward to Offline Camp Berlin, here is a quick look at five key developments that happened in the world of offline first in 2016 (see the Offline First Medium publication for a full run-down):

1. Offline Camp in the Catskills & California Coast

The Offline First community got together at two awesome events last year – camps where offline first enthusiasts got together and shared their offline first projects. The first Camp took place in the Catskill Mountains in June and the second took place in Santa Margarita, California in November.

These camps are an opportunity for attendees to explore the entire spectrum of offline first, including Progressive Web Apps, UX, mobile, desktop and Internet of Things (IoT) apps, and the business use cases. Offline Camp is an open, participatory, “un-conference” event with a relaxed atmosphere and a more intimate setting than a traditional conference or seminar. Everyone there is encouraged to stand up, participate, share and listen.

To stay up to date on the latest on these events, check out the Offline First event calendar.

2. HospitalRun

HospitalRun is a great example of why people are so passionate about offline first, and a reminder of its importance. Designed to allow medical records to be carried to remote clinics, HospitalRun is tailor-made for usability at healthcare facilities in the developing world.

HospitalRun is an open source Ember application that uses PouchDB – the in-browser version of Apache CouchDB – to function when there’s no internet connection, and CouchDB to sync when there is. HospitalRun shows the world-changing potential of offline first.

You can hear more by listening to CURE International CTO Joel Worrall’s passion talk from the first Offline Camp in June.

3. Apache CouchDB 2.0 Release

Last year was a big one for Apache CouchDB users, with the release of CouchDB 2.0, which added new capabilities brought in from the BigCouch fork created by the IBM Cloudant team. The whole notion of offline replication comes from CouchDB, so offline first is a key driver for CouchDB users.

CouchDB 2.0 allows users to access a big data cluster pulling up and down to all of their devices. Some of the biggest benefits this clustering brings with CouchDB 2.0 are:

  • Fault tolerance: data can be stored on more than one machine, eliminating the need for manual failover instances.
  • Performance: data sharding distributes workloads across multiple nodes in a cluster, reducing the amount of work of each individual machine.
  • Capacity: storing data in multiple nodes means that you’re not limited to the capacity of one machine, providing required scalability.

Listen to the New Builders podcast interview with leading CouchDB committers Jan Lenhardt and Robert Newson, discussing the CouchDB 2.0 launch.

4. PouchDB

PouchDB is the open source, JavaScript database designed to run within a browser. Inspired by CouchDB, Pouch is a great tool for developers looking to build applications that can work offline as well as online. June 2016 saw the release of version 5.4.0, which finally unbundled its core modules, breaking up its old architecture to support users who want their PouchDB experience to be slimmer or more customised.

Over its six-year life cycle to date, the codebase of PouchDB had steadily crept up. It also includes some large native dependencies that could take a long time to run on the first installation of node programs. This decoupling of modules has opened up a lot of possibilities to mix-and-match when building your own version of PouchDB.

Listen to two New Builders podcast interviews with leading PouchDB community members on hand for Offline Camp California – Nolan Lawson and Max Ogden,.

5. Build One Yourself

The IBM Watson Data Platform Developer Advocate team has been busy at work, creating a showcase of great examples of how to build a simple offline first experience for users.

To take one example, Glynn Bird has put together a great guide on how to build a progressive web app with offline first capability. Glynn discusses the various choices with building an app, and talks you through offline rendering, offline first storage and offline maps. It’s a great diving-in point for you to go and build your own offline first app.

Read more about Cloudant, IBM’s offline first, fully managed DBaaS offering here

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