Android Firebase Realtime Database edit

Denormalization Flat Database Structure

Denormalization and a flat database structure is neccessary to efficiently download separate calls. With the following structure, it is also possible to maintain two-way relationships. The disadvantage of this approach is, that you always need to update the data in multiple places.

For an example, imagine an app which allows the user to store messages to himself (memos).

Desired flat database structure:

|--database
  |-- memos
     |-- memokey1
       |-- title: "Title"
       |-- content: "Message"
     |-- memokey2
       |-- title: "Important Title"
       |-- content: "Important Message"
  |-- users
     |-- userKey1
       |-- name: "John Doe"
       |-- memos
         |-- memokey1 : true //The values here don't matter, we only need the keys.
         |-- memokey2 : true
     |-- userKey2
       |-- name: "Max Doe"

The used memo class

public class Memo {
    private String title, content;
    //getters and setters ... 

    //toMap() is necessary for the push process
    private Map<String, Object> toMap() {
        HashMap<String, Object> result = new HashMap<>();
        result.put("title", title);
        result.put("content", content);
        return result;
    }
}

Retrieving the memos of a user

//We need to store the keys and the memos seperately
private ArrayList<String> mKeys = new ArrayList<>();
private ArrayList<Memo> mMemos = new ArrayList<>();

//The user needs to be logged in to retrieve the uid
String currentUserId = FirebaseAuth.getInstance().getCurrentUser().getUid();

//This is the reference to the list of memos a user has 
DatabaseReference currentUserMemoReference = FirebaseDatabase.getInstance().getReference()
    .child("users").child(currentUserId).child("memos");

//This is a reference to the list of all memos
DatabaseReference memoReference = FirebaseDatabase.getInstance().getReference()
    .child("memos");

//We start to listen to the users memos, 
//this will also retrieve the memos initially
currentUserMemoReference.addChildEventListener(new ChildEventListener() {
        @Override
        public void onChildAdded(DataSnapshot dataSnapshot, String s) {
            //Here we retrieve the key of the memo the user has.
            String key = dataSnapshot.getKey(); //for example memokey1
            //For later manipulations of the lists, we need to store the key in a list
            mKeys.add(key);
            //Now that we know which message belongs to the user, 
            //we request it from our memos:
            memoReference.child(key).addValueEventListener(new ValueEventListener() {
                @Override
                    public void onDataChange(DataSnapshot dataSnapshot) {
                         //Here we retrieve our memo:
                         Memo memo = dataSnapshot.getValue(Memo.class);
                         mMemos.add(memo);
                    }

                @Override
                public void onCancelled(DatabaseError databaseError) { }
            });                           
        }

        @Override
        public void onChildChanged(DataSnapshot dataSnapshot, String s) { }

        @Override
        public void onChildRemoved(DataSnapshot dataSnapshot) { }

        @Override
        public void onChildMoved(DataSnapshot dataSnapshot, String s) { }

        @Override
        public void onCancelled(DatabaseError databaseError) { }
    }

Creating a memo

//The user needs to be logged in to retrieve the uid
String currentUserUid = FirebaseAuth.getInstance().getCurrentUser().getUid();

//This is the path to the list of memos a user has 
String userMemoPath = "users/" + currentUserUid + "/memos/";

//This is the path to the list of all memos
String memoPath = "memos/";

//We need to retrieve an unused key from the memos reference
DatabaseReference memoReference = FirebaseDatabase.getInstance().getReference().child("memos");
String key = memoReference.push().getKey();
Memo newMemo = new Memo("Important numbers", "1337, 42, 3.14159265359");

Map<String, Object> childUpdates = new HashMap<>(); 
//The second parameter **here** (the value) does not matter, it's just that the key exists
childUpdates.put(userMemoPath + key, true);
childUpdates.put(memoPath + key, newMemo.toMap());
FirebaseDatabase.getInstance().getReference().updateChildren(childUpdates);

After the push, or database looks like this:

|--database
  |-- memos
     |-- memokey1
       |-- title: "Title"
       |-- content: "Message"
     |-- memokey2
       |-- title: "Important Title"
       |-- content: "Important Message"
     |-- generatedMemokey3 
       |-- title: "Important numbers"
       |-- content: "1337, 42, 3.14159265359"
  |-- users
     |-- userKey1
       |-- name: "John Doe"
       |-- memos
         |-- memokey1 : true //The values here don't matter, we only need the keys.
         |-- memokey2 : true
         |-- generatedMemokey3 : true
     |-- userKey2
       |-- name: "Max Doe"

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