September 29, 2008

Firebird Conference 2008

I spent the end of the last week at the Firebird Conference 2008 in Bergamo, giving talks on using Delphi with the open source database server.

I spent the end of the last week at the Firebird Conference 2008 in Bergamo, giving talks on using Delphi with the open source database server. You can see images of the conference (including myself) on this web album of Carlos Cantu (of Firebird news fame . There are several images also in Martijn Tonies blog.

The conference itself was quite small in terms of attendees (with a few Italians among a rather International crowd) but there were talks by Firebird experts (including some of the actual developers paid by the Firebird Foundation) and the level of the technical discussion was very interesting. I followed more talks about configuration, monitoring, and programming from various languages, as I'm not a hard-core database guy.

The initial keynote was given by Philippe Makoswki, vice-president of the Firebird Foundation, who outlined the current development and the status of the project. Firebird is heavily used (totaling over 5 million downloads, mostly for the Win32 version --  even though the Linux edition is part of several distributions, so it is very hard to track its usage). The current problems range from the limited funding, to the too many versions to maintain. While version 2.5 is in the works, version 1.5 is still heavily in use!

What surprised me is that the Firebird Foundation is actively developing drivers for Java, .NET, and Python... while there are hassles using it from Delphi's dbExpress architecture. With Delphi likely the most common development tool for Firebird, this seems odd. Of course, the reason is they want CodeGear to fill the gap. And, for sure, over the last few years CodeGear has been equally unresponsive, considering how many Delphi developers use Firebird.

I gave a talk on dbExpress and Firebird (in Italian, mostly introducing dbExpress) and a second talk (in English) highlighting the different drivers and libraries you can use to write Delphi applications for Firebird. The offering is still large:

  • ADO with ODBC driver
  • IBX (not officially)
  • IBO (coming soon to Delphi 2009)
  • dbExpress plus third party drivers (Upscene, CoreLab - now Devart)
  • UIB (a set of components I use quite often)
  • ZeosLib
  • FibPlus

I'm pretty sure there are several others, but I noticed quite a few not currently under development, and so unlikely to support Delphi 2009. While doing experiments, I also wanted to figure out how hard is it to write a native dbExpress driver... and I got very close to write the core functionality of one... Now, I'm not sure I'll have time to finish it, but it there is interest, I can certainly share the code.

Overall, it was a nice conference... the first of a sequence of three in a month. Next is SDC in the Netherlands, later EKON in Germany. And a book to finish writing...



Firebird Conference 2008 

"Of course, the reason is they want CodeGear to fill 
the gap". If so, they look totally stupid. Why should 
CodeGear release a driver for a database that 
competes directly against Interbase? Try to clone SQL 
Server and ask MS to develop a driver for it! <g>.
IMHO, FB does not increase Delphi sales, but 
viceversa - although many Delphi developers just 
looks for a "free" database, nothing more.
Comment by Luigi D. Sandon on September 29, 12:59

Firebird Conference 2008 

The UIB components that you mentioned, includes a VERY
fast and robust - free and open source - dbExpress
driver for firebird up to ver 1.5.x versions.

It is quite good, considering we're using it in
production environments for some years, and still
haven't seen anything wrong with it!

I've used the Upscene one for FB2 and up, but not the
Corelab's one.

If you own the two commercial ones, will be a good
idea to compare the three.
Comment by K. A. [] on September 29, 13:15

Firebird Conference 2008 

There are some third party dbExpress drivers
available, some free, some paid. I'm expecting
CodeGear to release official Firebird dbExpress driver
in a near future... let's see.

PS: Nice to meet you personally, Marco ;-)
Comment by Carlos Cantu [] on September 29, 21:04

Firebird Conference 2008 

 Marco, Thanks for the update on the Firebird
conference. You mentioned you had the beginnings of a
DBX4 driver for Firebird. I am not quite that far down
the track with a DBX4 driver for Oracle/Rdb (was
DEC/Rdb; not the Oracle flagship product). The lack of
examples and documentation on writing a DBX4 driver is
frustrating. I would love to see your code for the
purpose of seeing how I need to override which
DBXCommon class methods. I'm struggling with the
registration process it seems. My driver object gets
created, however, then I get Access Violations further
along. A working example would be a great leg up.
It seems most DBX drivers are still DBX3 and rely on
the DynaLink driver. I want to get our system running
on RAD Studio 2009 as soon as we can and prefer to use
a statically linked driver. I'm getting there. Any
help or pointers would be much apperciated.
Thanks, Shaun
Comment by Shaun Cunniffe [] on December 6, 14:23

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