Android: Phonegap with existing sqlite database

Sun 30 September 2012 by Kamal Bin Mustafa

Just started my journey into android development and one thing I quickly found along the way is that shipping existing sqlite database with your phonegap app is non-trivial. Not sure this is problem with android directly or just phonegap. While you can put the sqlite database in your assets/ directory, phonegap apparently try to read the database from other fix location on the phone. Failing to read that, it will create new empty database.

There's workaround scattered in blogpost and mailing-list posts and I finally managed to get it working after hours of hunting and try and error session. If you search around you probably end up on some of these sites:-

The fix involved few steps:-

  • You have to move the sqlite database file to location that phonegap expected. Have to write some java for this but luckily the code we found on those site still working on latest phonegap release.
  • The built-in sqlite driver (if I can call it as such) does not support reading from existing sqlite database so we have to use 3rd party sqlite plugin.
  • The 3rd party sqlite plugin turn out to have issue with android < 2.3.3 and since I plan to also include support for froyo based phone, I have to fix this too.

You can get the code to move the db from this gist.

Next grab the sqlite plugin from and copy the folder under Android/src to our src/ directory. Then we have to tell phonegap about this plugin by editing res/xml/config.xml and include the following line:-

<plugin name="SQLitePlugin" 

Finally we have to remove some lines from src/com/phonegap/plugin/ The dev already marked the files to be deleted so we just need to find and remove it. You can see the diff from my app repo. To open the database from our app code, make sure to omit the .db extension since phonegap seem to automatically append that to db name.

You can also clone my app on github which has (hopefully) everything in place and you just need to load it into your Eclipse project.