Skip to content
Switch branches/tags

Latest commit


Git stats


Failed to load latest commit information.

Couchbase Lite For C

This is a cross-platform version of the Couchbase Lite embedded NoSQL syncable database, with a plain C API. The API can be used directly, or as the substrate for binding to other languages like Python, JavaScript or Rust.


  • C API
    • Similar to to other Couchbase Lite platforms (Java, C#, Swift, Objective-C)
    • Clean and regular design
    • Comes with a C++ wrapper API, implemented as inline calls to C
    • Can be bound to other languages like Python, Go, or JavaScript
  • Same feature set as other Couchbase Lite platforms
    • Schemaless JSON data model
      • Standard CRUD operations
      • Efficient binary blob support
      • Timed document expiration
      • Database encryption (Enterprise Edition only)
    • Powerful query language based on Couchbase's N1QL
      • Index arbitrary JSON properties or derived expression values
      • Full-text search (FTS)
    • Multi-master bidirectional replication (sync) with Couchbase Server
      • Fast WebSocket-based protocol
      • Transfers document deltas for minimal bandwidth
      • Replicator event listeners
      • Replicator online/offline support and retry behavior
      • Replicator TLS/SSL support
      • Peer-to-peer replication
  • Minimal platform dependencies: C++ standard library, filesystem, TCP/IP, libz (macOS / Linux), libicu (Linux)
  • Broad official OS support
    • macOS (x86_64 and arm64)
    • Debian 9/10 (including Raspbian / Raspberry Pi OS) and Ubuntu 20.04 (x86_64, armhf, arm64)
    • Windows (x86_64 only)
    • iOS (device and simulator archs)
    • Android (armeabi-v7a, arm64-v8a, x86, x86_64)
  • Runs on Raspberry-Pi-level embedded platforms with…
    • 32-bit or 64-bit CPU
    • ARM or x86
    • Hundreds of MB RAM, hundreds of MHz CPU, tens of MB storage
    • Linux-based OS



// Open a database:
CBLError error;
CBLDatabaseConfiguration config = {FLSTR("/tmp")};
CBLDatabase* db = CBLDatabase_Open(FLSTR("my_db"), &config, &error);

// Create a document:
CBLDocument* doc = CBLDocument_CreateWithID(FLSTR("foo"));
FLMutableDict props = CBLDocument_MutableProperties(doc);
FLSlot_SetString(FLMutableDict_Set(props, FLStr("greeting")), FLStr("Howdy!"));

// Save the document:
CBLDatabase_SaveDocument(db, doc, &error);

// Read it back:
const CBLDocument *readDoc = CBLDatabase_GetDocument(db, FLSTR("foo"), &error);
FLDict readProps = CBLDocument_Properties(readDoc);
FLSlice greeting = FLValue_AsString( FLDict_Get(readProps, FLStr("greeting")) );


NOTE: The C++ API is not part of the official release.

// Open a database:
cbl::Database db(kDatabaseName, {"/tmp"});

// Create a document:
cbl::MutableDocument doc("foo");
doc["greeting"] = "Howdy!";

// Read it back:
cbl::Document readDoc = db.getMutableDocument("foo");
fleece::Dict readProps =;
fleece::slice greeting = readProps["greeting"].asString();


Building It

CMake on Unix (normal compile)


  • GCC 7+ or Clang
  • CMake 3.10+
  • (Linux) ICU development libraries (apt-get install icu-dev)
  • (Linux) ZLIB development libraries (apt-get install zlib1g-dev)
  1. Clone the repo
  2. Check out submodules (recursively), i.e. git submodule update --init --recursive
  3. Prepare the build project with CMake (e.g. cmake <path/to/root>)
  4. Build the project: make cblite

The resulting (debug by default) libraries are

  • Linux:* (e.g. / /
  • macOS: libcblite.*.dylib (e.g. libcblite.3.0.0.dylib / libcblite.3.dylib / libcblite.dylib)

CMake on Linux (cross compile)

NOTE: Due to the complexity of cross compiling, these instructions are very high level on purpose. If you are curious about more fine-grained details you can check out the cross compilation script we use.


  • Cross compiler based on GCC 7+ or clang
  • CMake 3.10+
  • (in sysroot) ICU development libraries
  • (in sysroot) ZLIB development libraries
  1. Clone the repo
  2. Check out submodules (recursively), i.e. git submodule update --init --recursive
  3. Create a CMake toolchain file that sets up the cross compiler and sysroot for the cross compilation
  4. Prepare the build project with CMake and the toolchain from 3 (e.g. cmake -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=<your/toolchain.cmake> <path/to/project/root>)
  5. Build the project make cblite

With CMake on Windows


  • Visual Studio Toolset v141+ (Visual Studio 2017+)
  • CMake 3.10+
  1. Clone the repo
  2. Check out submodules (recursively), i.e. git submodule update --init --recursive
  3. Prepare the build project with CMake (e.g. cmake <path/to/root> -G <visual studio version> -A x64). Note even if you don't want to install, you should set the CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX (see issue #141).
  4. Build the project: cmake --build . --target cblite (or open the resulting Visual Studio project and build from there)

The resulting (debug by default) library is Debug\cblite.dll.

With Xcode on macOS

⚠️ Do not use Xcode 13 because of a downstream issue ⚠️

  1. Clone the repo
  2. Check out submodules (recursively), i.e. git submodule update --init --recursive
  3. Open the Xcode project in the Xcode subfolder
  4. Select scheme CBL_C Framework
  5. Build

The result is CouchbaseLite.framework in your Xcode Build Products/Debug directory (the path depends on your Xcode settings.)

To run the unit tests:

  1. Select scheme CBL_Tests
  2. Run

Testing It

CMake on Unix

  1. Follow the steps in building
  2. Build the test project make CBL_C_Tests
  3. Run the tests in test directory ./CBL_C_Tests -r list (for cross compile, this step needs to be done on the target system)

CMake on Windows

  1. Follow the steps in building
  2. Build the test project cmake --build . --target CBL_C_Tests
  3. Run the tests in test\Debug directory .\CBL_C_Tests.exe -r list

With Xcode on macOS

  1. Open the Xcode project from the Building section
  2. Select scheme CBL_Tests
  3. Run

Using It

Generic instructions

  • In your build settings, add the paths include and vendor/couchbase-lite-core/vendor/fleece/API (relative to this repo) to your header search paths.
  • In your linker settings, add the dynamic library.
  • In source files, add #include "cbl/CouchbaseLite.h".

With Xcode on macOS

  • Add CouchbaseLite.framework (see instructions above) to your project.
  • In source files, add #include "CouchbaseLite/CouchbaseLite.h".
  • You may need to add a build step to your target, to copy the framework into your app bundle.

Other Language Bindings

All of these (even C++) have no official support by Couchbase.

If you've created a language binding, please let us know by filing an issue, or a PR that updates the list below.