ObjectBox Database Java 3.1 – Flex type

ObjectBox Database Java 3.1 – Flex type

We are happy to announce version 3.1 of ObjectBox for Java and Kotlin. The major feature of this version is the new Flex type. For a long time, ObjectBox worked on rigid data schemas, and we think that this is a good thing. Knowing what your data looks like is a feature – similar to programming languages that are statically typed. Fixed schemas make data handling more predictable and robust. Nevertheless, sometimes there are use cases which require flexible data structures. ObjectBox 3.1 allows exactly this.

Flex properties

Expanding on the string and flexible map support in 3.0.0, this release adds support for Flex properties where the type must not be known at compile time. To add a Flex property to an entity use Object in Java and Any? in Kotlin. Then at runtime store any of the supported types.

For example, assume a customer entity with a tag property:

Then set a String tag on one customer, and an Integer tag on another customer and just put them:

When getting the customer from its box the original type is restored. For simplicity the below example just casts the tag to the expected type:

A Flex property can be not justString or Integer. Supported types are all integers (Byte, Short, Integer, Long), floating point numbers (Float, Double), String and byte arrays.

It can also hold a List<Object> or a Map<String, Object> of those types. Lists and maps can be nested.

Behind the scenes Flex properties use a FlexBuffer converter to store the property value, so some limitations apply. See the FlexObjectConverter class documentation for details.

Query for map keys and values

If the Flex property contains integers or strings, or a list or map of those types, it’s also possible to do queries. For example, take this customer entity with a properties String to String map:

Why is properties not of type Object? ObjectBox supports using Map<String, String> (or Map<String, Object>) directly and will still create a Flex property behind the scenes.

Then put a customer with a premium property:

To query for any customers that have a premium key in their properties map, use the containsElement condition:

Or to only match customers where the map key has a specific value, here a specific premium tier, use the containsKeyValue condition:

What’s next?

ObjectBox database is free to use. Check out our docs and this video tutorial to get started today.

We strive to bring joy to mobile developers and appreciate all kinds feedback, both positive and negative. You can always raise an issue on GitHub or post a question on Stackoverflow. Otherwise, star the ObjectBox Java repository and up-vote the features you’d like to see in the next release.

 

Beginner C++ Database Tutorial: How to use ObjectBox

Beginner C++ Database Tutorial: How to use ObjectBox

Introduction

As a direct follow up from the ObjectBox database installation tutorial, today we’ll code a simple C++ example app to show how the database can be used. Before starting to program, let’s briefly overview what we want to achieve with this tutorial and what is the best way to work through it.

Overview of the app we want to build

In short, we will make a console calculator app with an option to save results into memory. These will be stored as objects of the Number class. Every Number will also have an ID for easy reference in future calculations. Apart from the function to make calculations, we will create a function to enter memory. It will list all the database entries and have an option to clear memory. By coding all of this, we will make use of such standard ObjectBox operations as put, get, getAll and removeAll.

Our program will consist of seven files: 

  • the FlatBuffers schema file, that defines the model of a class we want to store in the database
  • the header file, for class function definitions
  • the source file, for function implementation
  • the four files with objectbox binding code that will be created by objectbox-generator

How to use this tutorial

While looking at coding examples is useful in many cases, the best way to learn such a practical skill like programming is to solve problems independently. This is why we included an exercise for each step. You are encouraged to make the effort and do each of them, even if you don’t know the answer straight away. Only move to the next step after you test each part of your program and make sure that everything works as intended. Ideally, you should only use the code snippets presented here to check yourself or look for hints when you feel stuck. Bear in mind that sometimes there might be several different ways to achieve the same results. So if something that we ask you to do in this tutorial doesn’t work for you, try to come up with your own solution.

How to create the FlatBuffers file?

First, we’ll create the FlatBuffers schema (.fbs) for our app. This is required for the objectbox-generator to generate binding code that will allow us to use the ObjectBox library in our project. 

The FlatBuffers schema consists of a table, which defines the object we want to store in the database, and the properties of this object. Each property consists of a name and a type. We want to keep our example very simple, so just two properties is enough.

  1. To replicate a calculator’s memory, we want ObjectBox to store some numbers. We can define the Number object by giving the table a corresponding name.
  2. Inside the table, we want to have two properties: id and contents. The contents of each Number object is the number itself (double), while id is an ulong that our program will assign to each of them for easy identification.

Exercise: create a file called numbers.fbs and define the table in the format

Reveal code

Generating binding code

Now that the FlatBuffers file is ready, we can generate the binding code. To do this, run the objectbox-generator for our FlatBuffers file:

The following files will be generated:

  • objectbox-model.h
  • objectbox-model.json
  • numbers.obx.hpp
  • numbers.obx.cpp

The header file

This is where the main chunk of our code will be. It will contain the Calculator class and all the function definitions.

  1. Start by including the three ObjectBox header files: objectbox.hpp, objectbox-model.h and numbers.obx.hpp. Our whole program will be based on one class, called Calculator. It should only have two private members: Store and Box. Store is a reference to the database and will manage Boxes. Each Box stores objects of a particular class. In this example, we only need one Box. Let’s call it numberBox, as it will store Numbers that we want to save in the memory of our calculator.

Exercise: create a file called calculator.hpp and define the Calculator class with two private members: reference to the obx library member Store and a Box of Numbers.

Reveal code

2. After the constructor, we define the run function. It will be responsible for the menu of our program. There should be two main options: to perform calculations and enter memory. As discussed above, we want this app to do two things: perform calculations and show memory. We’ll define these as separate functions, called Calculate and Memory. The first one is quite standard, so we won’t go into a detailed explanation here. The only thing you should keep in mind is that we need to account for the case when the user wants to  operate on a memory item. To deal with this, we’ll process input in a function called processInput.

Exercise: define the parametrised constructor which takes a reference to Store as a parameter. Then define the run and Calculate functions.

Reveal code

3. The final part of this function is for saving results into memory. We start by asking the user if they want to do that. If the answer is positive, we create a new instance of Number and set the most recent result as a value of its contents. To save our object in the database, we can operate with put(object) on our Box. put is one of the standard ObjectBox operations, which is used for creating new objects and overwriting existing ones. 

Exercise: create an option to store the result in memory, making use of the ObjectBox put operation.

Reveal code

4. Next, we should define processInput, which will read input as a string and check whether it has the right format. Now, to make it recognise the memory items, we have to come up with a standard format for these. Remember, we defined an ID property for our Numbers. Every number in our database has an ID, so we can refer to them as, e.g. m1, m2, m3 etc. To read the numbers from memory, we can make use of the get(obx_id) operation. It returns a unique pointer to the corresponding Number, whose contents we need to access and use as our operand.

Exercise: define the processInput function, which detects when something like m1 was used as an operand and updates x, y, and op according to the input.

Reveal code

5. The last function in our header file will be Memory. It should list all the numbers contained in the database and have an option to clear data. We can read all the database entries by calling the getAll ObjectBox operator. It returns a vector of unique pointers. To clear memory, you can simply operate with removeAll on our Box.

Exercise: define the Memory function, which lists all the memory items, and can delete all of them by request.

Reveal code

The source file

To tie everything together, we create a source (.cpp) file. It should contain only the main function that initialises the objectbox model, creates an instance of the Calculator app, and runs it. To create the ObjectBox model, use

then passing options as a parameter when you initialise the Store.

Exercise: create the source file

Reveal code

Final notes

Now you can finally compile and run your application. At this point, a good exercise would be to try and add some more functionality to this project. Check out the ObjectBox C++ documentation to learn more about the available operations.

Other than that, if you spot any errors in this tutorial or if anything is unclear, please come back to us. We are happy to hear your thoughts.

Beginner C++ tutorial: ObjectBox installation

Beginner C++ tutorial: ObjectBox installation

This ObjectBox beginner tutorial is for people who have limited knowledge of C++ development (no prior experience with external libraries is required). It will walk you through the installation process of all the development tools needed to get started with ObjectBox on Windows. By the way, ObjectBox is a database with intuitive native APIs, so it won’t take you long to start using it.

Firstly, we will need to set up a Linux subsystem (WSL2) and install such tools as:

  • CMake, which will generate build files from the ObjectBox source code to work on Linux;
  • Git, which will download the source code from the ObjectBox repository.

Then, we will install ObjectBox and run a simple example in Visual Studio Code.

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL2)

In this section, you will set up a simple Linux subsystem that you can use to build Objectbox in C++.

  1. Install WSL (Note: this requires a reboot; it also configures a limited HyperV that may cause issues with e.g. VirtualBox).
    Warning: to paste e.g. a password to the Ubuntu setup console window, right-click the title bar and select Edit → Paste. CTRL + V may not work.
  2. (optional, but recommended) install Windows Terminal from Microsoft Store and use Ubuntu from there (does not have the copy/paste issue, also supports terminal apps better).
Windows Terminal in the Microsoft Store

3. Within Windows Terminal, open Ubuntu by choosing it from the dropdown menu.

Drop-down menu in Windows Terminal, through which a new tab for Ubuntu can be opened

4. Get the latest packages and upgrade:

5. Install build tools

Install ObjectBox using CMake

Now that you have WSL2 and all the packages, we can switch to VS Code and install ObjectBox with the help of CMake.

  1. In Ubuntu, create a new directory and then open it in Visual Studio Code:

2. Install the following extensions:

Extensions tab in Visual Studio Code, showing what needs to be installed in this tutorial: C/C++, CMake Tools and Remote - WSL

3. Create a text file called CMakeLists.txt with the following code. It will tell CMake to get the ObjectBox source code from its Git repository and link the library to your project.

4. Create a simple main.cpp file that will help us verify the setup:

5. Follow this official guide for VS code and CMake to select Clang as the compiler, configure and build ObjectBox. As a result, .vscode and build folders will be generated. So your directory should now look like this:

Explorer tab in Visual Studio Code, showing the two new folders that were generated after a successful build

Running the tasks-list app example

Finally, we can check that everything works and run a simple example.

1. Click the “Select target to launch” button on the status bar and select “myapp” from the dropdown menu. Then launch it. You should see it output the correct version as in the screenshot.

"Select launch target" menu in Visual Studio Code
Output of main.cpp, verifying the version of ObjectBox used and demonstrating that the C++ build files were generated correctly.

2. Before proceeding with the example, you need to download the most recent ObjectBox generator for Linux from releases. Then come back to the Windows Terminal and type

to open the current directory in Windows Explorer. Copy the objectbox-generator file in there.

3. Back in VS Code, you should now run the generator for the example code:

If you get a “permission denied” error, try this to make the generator file executable for your user:

4. Now choose objectbox-c-examples-tasks-cpp-gen as the target and run it. You should see the menu of a simple to-do list app as shown on the screenshot. It stores your tasks, together with their creation time and status. Try playing around with it and exploring the code of this example app to get a feel of how ObjectBox can be used.

Output of the Objectbox C++ tasks-list app example showing its menu with available commands

Note: if you see a sync error (e.g. Can not modify object of sync-enabled type “Task” because sync has not been activated for this store), please delete the first line from the tasklist.fbs file and run the objectbox generator once again. Or, if you want to try sync, apply for our Early Access Data Sync. There is a separate example (called objectbox-c-examples-tasks-cpp-gen-sync) that you can run after installing the Sync Server.

ObjectBox Database Java / Kotlin 3.0 + CRUD Benchmarks

ObjectBox Database Java / Kotlin 3.0 + CRUD Benchmarks

The Android database for superfast Java / Kotlin data persistence goes 3.0. Since our first 1.0-release in 2017 (Android-first, Java), we have released C/C++, Go, Flutter/Dart, Swift bindings, as well as Data Sync and we’re thrilled that ObjectBox has been used by over 800,000 developers. 

We love our Java / Kotlin community ❤️ who have been with us since day one. So, with today’s post, we’re excited to share a feature-packed new major release for Java and Kotlin alongside CRUD performance benchmarks for MongoDB Realm, Room (SQLite) and ObjectBox.

What is ObjectBox?

ObjectBox is a high performance database and an alternative to SQLite and Room. ObjectBox empowers developers to persist objects locally on Mobile and IoT devices. It’s a NoSQL ACID-compliant object database with an out-of-the-box Data Sync providing fast and easy access to decentralized edge data (Early Access).

New Query API

A new Query API is available that works similar to our existing Dart/Flutter Query API and makes it easier to create nested conditions:

In Kotlin, the condition methods are also available as infix functions. This can help make queries easier to read:

Unique on conflict replace strategy

One unique property in an @Entity can now be configured to replace the object in case of a conflict (“onConflict”) when putting a new object.

This can be helpful when updating existing data with a unique ID different from the ObjectBox ID. E.g. assume an app that downloads a list of playlists where each has a modifiable title (e.g. “My Jam”) and a unique String ID (“playlist-1”). When downloading an updated version of the playlists, e.g. if the title of “playlist-1” has changed to “Old Jam”, it is now possible to just do a single put with the new data. The existing object for “playlist-1” is then deleted and replaced by the new version.

Built-in string array and map support

String array or string map properties are now supported as property types out-of-the-box. For string array properties it is now also possible to find objects where the array contains a specific item using the new containsElement condition. 

Kotlin Flow, Android 12 and more

Kotlin extension functions were added to obtain a Flow from a BoxStore or Query:

Data Browser has added support for apps targeting Android 12.

For details on all changes, please check the ObjectBox for Java changelog.

Room (SQLite), Realm & ObjectBox CRUD performance benchmarks

We compared against the Android databases, MongoDB Realm and Room (on top of SQLite) and are happy to share that ObjectBox is still faster across all four major database operations: Create, Read, Update, Delete.

Android database comparative benchmarks for ObjectBox, Realm, and Room

We benchmarked ObjectBox along with Room 2.3.0 using SQLite 3.22.0 and MongoDB Realm 10.6.1 on an Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Exynos) mobile phone with Android 10. All benchmarks were run 10+ times and no outliers were discovered, so we used the average for the results graph above. Find our open source benchmarking code on GitHub and as always: feel free to check them out yourself. More to come soon, follow us on Twitter or sign up to our newsletter to stay tuned (no spam ever!).

Using a fast on-device database matters

A fast local database is more than just a “nice-to-have.” It saves device resources, so you have more resources (CPU, Memory, battery) left for other resource-heavy operations. Also, a faster database allows you to keep more data locally with the device and user, thus improving privacy and data ownership by design. Keeping data locally and reducing data transferal volumes also has a significant impact on sustainability.

Sustainable Data Sync

Some data, however, you might want or need to synchronize to a backend. Reducing overhead and synchronizing data selectively, differentially, and efficiently reduces bandwidth strain, resource consumption, and cloud / Mobile Network usage – lowering the CO2 emissions too. Check out ObjectBox Data Sync, if you are interested in an out-of-the-box solution.

Get Started with ObjectBox for Java / Kotlin Today

ObjectBox is free to use and you can get started right now via this getting-started article, or follow this video.

Already an ObjectBox Android database user and ready to take your application to the next level? Check out ObjectBox Data Sync, which solves data synchronization for edge devices, out-of-the-box. It’s incredibly efficient and (you guessed it) superfast 😎

We ❤️ your Feedback

We believe, ObjectBox is super easy to use. We are on a mission to make developers’ lives better, by building developer tools that are intuitive and fun to code with. Now it’s your turn: let us know what you love, what you don’t, what do you want to see next? Share your feedback with us, or check out GitHub and up-vote the features you’d like to see next in ObjectBox.

Dart Flutter Database ObjectBox 1.0 Release

Dart Flutter Database ObjectBox 1.0 Release

In 2019 we first introduced the ObjectBox database v0.1 for Flutter/Dart. Our team has loved the engagement and feedback we’ve received from the developer community since, and we’re thrilled to announce the first stable version 1.0 for ObjectBox Dart/Flutter today.

With this release we bring you the fast and easy to use ObjectBox database for Dart objects: optimized for high performance on mobile and desktop devices. ObjectBox persists your Dart objects (null safe, of course) and comes with relations, queries, transactions, and Data Sync. For a feature list and more, please also check the pub.dev page.

ObjectBox by Example

For those of you new to ObjectBox, here is how you can use it (or check the docs if you want to dive deep right away). By annotating a class with @Entity you tell ObjectBox that you want to persist its objects, which is done putting the object in a Box:

What’s new with the 1.0?

Version 1.0 delivers a stabilized API and adds new essential features like async writes and query streams. We’ve also extended support for Flutter desktop. Let’s look at queries and how they can be used depending on the use case:

There are two new approaches to do async puts for asynchronous database writes: putAsync() returns a Future to check if the call was successful.

Or you can use a background queue if you don’t need individual Futures, the following code inserts 100 objects and only waits once:

If you are interested in further improvements we made to 1.0, please check out the full changelog.

Dart Flutter Database Benchmarks

ObjectBox Dart v1.0 also comes with considerable optimizations bringing a new level of database performance to Flutter apps. ObjectBox enables data-heavy apps that were not possible on Flutter before. Consider this a first sneak-peek; stay tuned for detailed performance benchmarks to be released including queries (hint: they are really fast) along with updated benchmarking code.

What we tested

We looked at some two popular approaches: sqflite, a SQLite wrapper for Flutter (no Dart Native support), and Hive, a key-value store with Class-adapters which seems still popular although its creator abandoned it for architectural shortcomings (it has memory problems and does not support queries). In the previous benchmark we’ve also had a look at Firestore, but being an online-only database it was thousands of times slower than the rest so we’ve left it to rest this time around. Check our previous benchmark if you’re interested.

To get an overview of the databases, we tested CRUD operations (create, read, update, delete). Each test was run multiple times and executed manually outside of the measured time. Data preparation and evaluation were also done outside of the measured time.

ObjectBox, sqflite, Hive performance comparison across CRUD

Looking at the results, we can see ObjectBox performing significantly faster than sqflite across the board, with up to 100 time speed-up in case of create & update operations. Compared to Hive, the results are a little closer in some cases (read) though ObjectBox still comes out on top in all the metrics. Considering that Hive keeps all Dart objects in memory (!) while ObjectBox does not, should give you a good impression of how fast object persistence with ObjectBox is.

ObjectBox Database for Flutter/Dart Highlights

For those of you new to ObjectBox, here’s a quick summary of what our super-fast embedded database offers, out of the box:

  • automatic schema migration: adding new classes or fields just works
  • type-safe APIs, e.g. no interface{} arguments
  • embedded edge database – no server needed, store all data directly on the device
  • no ORM, no SQL
  • relations: to-one, to-many (eager and lazy fetching)       
  • robust query support, including indexes for scalable lookups
  • Support for implicit (automatic) and explicit (user defined)
  • transactions: ACID compliant with superfast bulk/batch operations
  • low memory usage
  • runs across operating systems: 64-bit Linux, macOS, Windows, small 32-bit ARM-based Linux devices (e.g. Raspberry Pi)
  • Data Sync: an efficient and easy way to synchronize data between your app and the cloud

Getting Started with ObjectBox for Flutter/Dart Today

ObjectBox is free to use and you can get started right now via the docs, pub.dev or GitHub, or this getting-started video tutorial, or getting-started article.

We ❤️ your Feedback

Now it’s your turn: let us know what you love, what you don’t, what do you want to see next? Share your feedback with us, or check out GitHub and up-vote the features you’d like to see next in ObjectBox.

Flutter databases –  sqflite, hive, ObjectBox, and Moor

Flutter databases – sqflite, hive, ObjectBox, and Moor

Flutter is becoming a serious developer platform and with it grows a need for Flutter databases. A quick note on Flutter and Dart: As it is pretty young and you might either be looking for a Flutter database, a Dart database or truly a Flutter Dart database. Flutter is an open-source UI software development kit created by Google. Dart is the programming language in which developers code Flutter apps. Dart is an object-oriented programming language. 

Flutter databases / Flutter Dart data persistence

While the database market is huge and dynamic,  there are only few options to choose from if you are a Flutter / Dart app developer. Before we dive into the Flutter database options, advantages and disadvantages, we’re taking a very quick look at databases to make sure, we share a common ground. Accordingly, we’ll not get theoretical and extensive, but focus on what we mean here. 

What is a database?

A database is a piece of software that allows the storage and systematic use of digital information, in other words: data persistence. As opposed to mere caching, data is reliably stored and available to work with unless actively deleted. A database typically allows developers to store, access, search, update, query, and otherwise manipulate data in the database via a developer language or API. These types of operations are done within an application, in the background, typically hidden from end users. Many applications need a database as part of their technology stack. The most typical database operations are CRUD: Create, Read, Update, Delete.

What are the major types of databases?

There are many types of databases. For our purpose, the most important differentiations are non-relational (NoSQL) versus relational databases (SQL), cloud databases versus edge databases, and maybe embedded versus in-memory. However, databases can be further distinguished by additional criteria e.g. the data types they support, or the way they scale – and definitions can vary.

What is an ORM?

An Object relational Mapper (ORM) is not a database. We’re bringing this up mainly, because we see it confused often. It is a layer that sits on top of a database and makes it easier to use. This is typically especially relevant when the database is a relational database (SQL) and the programming language used is object-oriented. As noted above, Dart is an object-oriuented programming language.

The Flutter Dart data persistence landscape

At this point in time, the database landscape for Flutter Dart is still very limited. So, let us quickly introduce the current market players. Note: We are adding in Moor, because with that few player it is just one more option available and therefore, at this moment in time, should be part of the Flutter Dart data persistence landscapes, in our minds.

  • Firebase Realtime DB is a cloud-hosted database. It stores data as JSON and synchronizes it to connected clients.
  • Hive is a lightweight key-value database written in Dart for Flutter applications, inspired by Bitcask.
  • ObjectBox DB is a highly performant lightweight NoSQL database. It stores objects.
  • sqflite is a wrapper around SQLite, which is a relational database without direct support for Dart objects. 
  • Moor is a reactive persistence library for Flutter and Dart, built ontop of sqlite. 

 

What is the best Flutter Dart database?

This of course depends… Make up your own mind with the following comparison matrix as a starting point. Note: With very few options to choose from, the following overview is sometimes a bit comparing apples🍎 and pears🍐.

 

Data persistence Description Primary Model Location of data Language License Fun Fact
Firebase Realtime Database Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) NoSQL Google Cloud Dart Proprietary acquired by Google in 2014
hive Light key-value DB for Flutter NoSQL local Dart Apache 2.0 Munich brew
ObjectBox High-performance Flutter DB NoSQL local, self-hosted server / cloud Dart Bindings are Apache 2.0 Munich-brew out-of-the-box data sync solution
sqflite SQLite plugin for Flutter relational local SQL SQLite is public domain, sqflite lib is MIT good old SQLite
Moor ORM for SQLite used on top of a relational DB local Dart SQLite is public domain, Moor lib is MIT Room spelled backwards

 

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Flutter Database performance benchmarks

As with any benchmark, you need to take a look at the details. We take benchmarking very serious and strive to get accurate results. Therefore, we also always open source the benchmarking code and encourage you to check it out. If you note anything that does not even out in your oppinion, do let us know. We have a long history of updating and improving our benchmarks continually and are happy to take any recommendations.

Performance Benchmark Test Setup

We used an Android 10 device with a Kirin 980 CPU to run the benchmarks as a Flutter app. The app executed all operations (ops) in batches of 10.000 objects. Each batch formed a single transaction. We ran each test 50 times. The results you see in the diagram are averages across all runs. We set it up that way to ensure that neither the Virtual Machine warmup during the first run nor the garbage collections affect the overall result significantly. 

Flutter Databases CRUD Performance Results

Summary of the Flutter Dart DB Benchmarks

Hive and ObjectBox clearly outperform sqflite across all CRUD operations. The results show ObjectBox performing with up to 70 times the speedup for create and update operations. With regards to comparing Hive and ObjectBox, the results vary more. Hive can be faster at reading objects than ObjectBox. However, strictly speaking it’s not a fair comparison, because in Hive, the high read numbers result from Dart objects already cached in memory. If the objects are fetched using the async API from disk, the numbers drop by factor 1000.

As a cloud-based online database, Firebase is not really comparable. Local data persistence, an edge database, will typically always beat a cloud-based solutions with regards to response times. But of course cloud-based solutions have their own advantages and there may be reasons why you would choose to use Firebase over an edge database. It still may be a great option for you, depending on the use case.

Moor was not part of the benchmarking as it is an ORM. However, it is very likely it will perform similarly as sqflite, reflecting primarily the performance of SQLite.

Flutter and Data persistence landscape Conclusion

Flutter is becoming a serious developer platform and developers need a data persistence solution. There are currently only few databases supporting the Flutter community and 2021 will be an interesting year to watch where this is going. If you are interested to learn more about the database space, DB-engines and the database of databases are great starting points. Otherwise, go, check out ObjectBox Dart for Flutter Dart and share your thoughts with us – it’s not too late yet; we are shortly before releasing 1.0 and your feedback counts 🙂