TweetFollow Us on Twitter

June 91 - Data Access Language Unit for MacApp

Data Access Language Unit for MacApp

Mary Elaine Califf

A few months ago I began work on three Macintosh front-ends for administrative data. The data resides in Rdb databases on our VAXcluster and was to be accessed using Apple's Data Access Language (DAL).

Since all three projects were full-featured applications, I abandoned HyperCard-in which the previous incarnations of two of these front-ends were written-and started learning MacApp. When I couldn't find anyone else using DAL and MacApp together, UDAL was born.

This version of the UDAL unit uses the cl1_api interface provided with DAL instead of the Data Access Manager routines. Therefore, it works with both system 6.0.x and system 7.0. UDAL is currently written in MacApp 2.0, but conversion to MacApp 3.0 requires only minor changes. The UDAL unit may not handle everything you want to do with DAL, but should at least suggest a way to incorporate DAL into MacApp.

THE BASICS OF DATA ACCESS LANGUAGE

DAL is a client-server protocol for remote database access. The Macintosh client is a system extension-included with system 7.0, available separately for system 6.0.x. Servers are available with adapters for various databases on systems running VAX/VMS, MVS/TSO, and VM/CMS. Other servers are under development, including one for A/UX that has already been announced.

DAL uses an SQL-based language that includes some C-like programming constructs. DAL's greatest asset is in providing applications with a uniform access method across various systems, database management systems, and network connection types. Despite the network overhead and the translation of DAL into the databases' SQL dialects, DAL's performance is fairly good and is improving with newer versions of the servers.

OVERVIEW OF THE UDAL UNIT FOR MACAPP

UDAL defines two classes: TDALConnection and TDALRequest. TDALConnection maintains information about a DAL session and contains methods that call the DAL functions. TDALConnection also provides a Reconnect method that establishes a new session using a previous connection object whose session aborted. One TDALConnection object is needed for each concurrent DAL session.

TDALRequest manages DAL queries. This class is useful for long, complicated requests or for requests that need to be reissued. Besides the two object types, the UDAL unit provides an InitUDAL procedure, utility routines for converting between Pascal strings and the null-terminated strings used by DAL, and default error handling routines.

INSIDE TDALCONNECTION-INTERFACING TO THE DAL API

The TDALConnection class provides an object-oriented interface to the DAL API functions. Therefore, most of the object's methods are based on the API functions. Note: API functions all begin with the letters CL; DAL was originally called CL/1, and the original function names were retained for compatibility. Please refer to the TDALConnection interface listing for the complete source of the class interface.

I added functionality to TDALConnection by including an error handling procedure as one of the parameters to each of the methods based on an API function. This addition helps to hide the details of managing the DAL connections from applications interested only in the data retrieved. The procedure I usually pass to the functions, HandleDALError, is included in the UDAL unit. All functions except GetString return the result code from the API function called; this allows the calling method to handle error checking. GetString returns the result code in a var parameter instead of returning it as its function result.

IDALConnection

The IDALConnection method initializes the object and establishes a DAL session using the CLInit function. It takes the host name, user name, password, and connection options as parameters. The Reconnect method also establishes a DAL session using CLInit, but it uses the fields of the object to determine the parameters for CLInit since its purpose is to re-establish the user's connection with the host.

HandleDroppedConnection

HandleDroppedConnection calls CLEnd to ensure that the last session was properly closed and then displays an alert, enabling the user to reconnect immediately. My applications all provide menu choices allowing later reconnection. When the user discovers a dropped connection but wants to do something that doesn't require a current session (for example, printing an existing document), he shouldn't have to wait for the new session to be established. If the user does wish to reconnect immediately, HandleDroppedConnection calls Reconnect.

CloseConnection

CloseConnection calls CLEnd to close down a DAL session. It doesn't free the TDALConnection object, because the object could be used to handle another session after calling Reconnect.

SendSQL and ExecuteRequest

SendSQL and ExecuteRequest allow the application to talk to the host database. SendSQL sends a string to the host. The ExecuteRequest method tells the host to execute everything received since the last call to ExecuteRequest. Note: The host doesn't do anything with the commands received until the user tells it to execute them. Be careful to always complete a DAL programming construct between calls to ExecuteRequest-telling DAL to execute what it has when you're in the middle of a for loop always produces errors!

CheckState and GetString

CheckState and GetString retrieve information from the host. CheckState determines if a value is waiting for retrieval; GetString retrieves a value from the host (if it doesn't time out first) and returns it as a Pascal string. The timeout period is specified as a parameter to the method. The routine returns values as strings because I couldn't get DAL to give me anything else from my Rdb database, even when the value was clearly an integer. Therefore, it was more convenient for the routine to convert the C strings into Pascal strings.

StopRequest

The final method in TDALConnection (other than Fields) is StopRequest. This method should abort the current request if the abortSession parameter is false and abort the entire DAL session if abortSession is true. However, test the method thoroughly in your environment before making it available to users. The CLBreak function it is based on is not always reliable. In some environments, it occasionally hangs both the Macintosh and the process on the mainframe. Everyone I've spoken to who uses DAL with Rdb databases has experienced these crashes when using CLBreak. The function does, however, work with some DBMSs.

A "Nothing" example for TDALConnection

Drop the source listed in A simple example using TDALConnection into a view's draw method to provide a very simple example that shows how to use TDALConnection.

INSIDE TDALREQUEST-HANDLING COMPLEX REQUESTS

Many uses of DAL can be made using only the TDALConnection class-I handle a fair amount of database communication in my applications using SendSQL, ExecuteRequest, and GetString.

However, at least two situations require better request management and a subclass of TDALRequest: inserting a few user-provided values into a query template, and saving a query and repeating it with no modifications. (Please refer to the TDALRequest interface listing for the complete source of the class interface.)

I had these needs in my applications. The template for one of my queries is a STR# resource with 15 strings. Also, all my documents contain the results of a database query that the user should be able to update without having to remember the query.

TDALRequest saves the text of a DAL request in a linked list of strings. It also contains a reference to the DALConnection it is supposed to use. It provides three methods of interest: SendRequest, ShowRequest, and BuildRequest.

SendRequest and ShowRequest

SendRequest sends each string in the request list using SendSQL, and then calls ExecuteRequest.

ShowRequest provides for debugging by displaying a dialog box with a TTEView containing the text of the request. If you cancel the dialog, ShowRequest returns false. This helps you avoid sending a bad request to the host during debugging.

BuildRequest

Most programmers who use UDAL will want to override BuildRequest. UDAL provides a default version that takes the STR# resource with id 2000 and stuffs the strings into a TTEView in a dialog box. It then takes what is in the TTEView when the dialog box is dismissed (if the OK button is pressed) and breaks the text into the request list. I find this useful in early stages of my applications, but all requests in my finished applications are implemented by subclasses of TDALRequest.

Your version of BuildRequest should usually display a dialog box to get user information and then create the linked list of strings from a STR# resource, inserting the information in the appropriate places. Make sure that each place where you need to insert information falls between strings in your STR#. BuildRequest should return false if the user cancels the request or some other error occurs while building the request. Otherwise, BuildRequest should return true.

The following code example demonstrates the use of TDALRequest assuming that aDALConn exists and that TMyDocument.GetData retrieves the data from the request:

New(aDALRequest);
FailNIL(aDALRequest);
aDALRequest.IDALRequest(kDefaultRequestID,fConn);
if aDALRequest.BuildRequest then
if aDALRequest.ShowRequest then
    begin
        aDALRequest.SendRequest;
        aDocument.GetData;
    end;

INSIDE TRETRIEVER-HANDLING ASYNCHRONOUS REQUESTS

DAL performance is improving, but some requests can take a long time. My applications allow users to switch to another application while a request is pending, and they also allow users to perform any task inside my application that doesn't require a database lookup. If you handle more than one DAL session, you can even allow multiple lookups, but only one per session.

To handle the retrieval of the information in the background, I create a TRetriever class that overrides DoIdle. The instance of this class need only exist while a lookup is occurring.

TRetriever = OBJECT(TEvtHandler)
fConn       : TDALConnection;
fDocument   : TFSDirDocument;
PROCEDURE TRetrever.IRetriever(conn: TDALConnection;
                         doc: TStuDirDocument);
FUNCTION TRetriever.DoIdle(phase:IdlePhase):BOOLEAN;
                        OVERRIDE;
END;

TRetriever's DoIdle method is fairly simple. It need only check to see if there is data waiting and call an appropriate method of the document to retrieve the data-in this case, GetPersonRecord. My DoIdle method also does some error handling-see the TRetriever.DoIdle implementation listing for the complete source.

Installing an instance of TRetriever is quite simple. The following five lines of code create the retriever and install it in the cohandler chain. You would include this code right after a call to TDALRequest.SendRequest or after TDALConnection.ExecuteRequest.

New(aRetriever);
FailNIL(aRetriever);
aRetriever.IRetriever(fConn,SELF);
aRetriever.SetIdleFreq(1);
gApplication.InstallCoHandler(aRetriever,true);

LOOKING FOR OTHER DAL USERS

The UDAL unit may not do everything you'd like to do with DAL, but I hope it will prove useful and suggest other ways that DAL can be used with MacApp. One future direction for the unit is the creation of a system 7.0-only version that takes advantage of the asynchronous capabilities of the new Data Access Manager routines. I welcome comments and questions. I would appreciate hearing from anyone using DAL.
 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Vienna 3.0.6 :5eaf312: - RSS and Atom ne...
Vienna is a freeware and Open-Source RSS/Atom newsreader with article storage and management via a SQLite database, written in Objective-C and Cocoa, for the OS X operating system. It provides... Read more
Kodi 15.1.rc1 - Powerful media center to...
Kodi (was XBMC) is an award-winning free and open-source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub that can be installed on Linux, OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android, featuring a 10-foot user... Read more
Bookends 12.5.8 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Access the power of Bookends directly from Mellel, Nisus Writer Pro, or MS Word (... Read more
Chromium 44.0.2403.125 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. Version 44.0.2403.125: This release contains a number... Read more
iMazing 1.2.2 - Complete iOS device mana...
iMazing (was DiskAid) is the ultimate iOS device manager with capabilities far beyond what iTunes offers. With iMazing and your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod), you can: Copy music to and from... Read more
Audio Hijack 3.2.0 - Record and enhance...
Audio Hijack (was Audio Hijack Pro) drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio... Read more
FontExplorer X Pro 5.0.1 - Font manageme...
FontExplorer X Pro is optimized for professional use; it's the solution that gives you the power you need to manage all your fonts. Now you can more easily manage, activate and organize your... Read more
Calcbot 1.0.2 - Intelligent calculator a...
Calcbot is an intelligent calculator and unit converter for the rest of us. Featuring an easy-to-read history tape, expression view, intuitive conversion, and much more! Features History Tape -... Read more
MTR 5.0.0.1 - The Mac's oldest and...
MTR (was MacTheRipper)--the Mac's oldest and smartest DVD-backup app--is now updated to version 5.001 MTR -- the complete toolbox, not a one-trick, point-and-click extractor. MTR is intended for... Read more
LibreOffice 4.4.5.2 - Free, open-source...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more

Card King: Dragon Wars - Tips, Tricks an...
[Read more] | Read more »
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX has brou...
Bandai Namco has released Pac-Man Championship Edition DX on iOS and Android, which features the classic arcade gameplay that we've all grown to love. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX can be enjoyed in much shorter bursts than the arcade versions... | Read more »
Cosmonautica (Games)
Cosmonautica 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $6.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Cast off! Are you ready for some hilarious adventures in outer space? | Read more »
Rescue humanity from a Demon horde in An...
Angel Stone is Fincon's follow up to the massively successful Hello Hero and is out now on iOS and Android. You play as a member of The Resistance, a group of mighty human warriors who have risen up in defiance of the Demon horde threatening to... | Read more »
Gallery Doctor (Photography)
Gallery Doctor 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Photography Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Free up valuable iCloud and iPhone storage with Gallery Doctor, the only iPhone cleaner that automatically identifies the... | Read more »
You Against Me (Games)
You Against Me 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A simple game… You. Me. Claim, steal, lock, score, win! | Read more »
Yep, it's True - Angry Birds 2 is O...
The not exactly rumors were true and the birds are back. Angry Birds 2 has come to the App Store and the world will... well I suppose it'll still be the same, but now we have more bird-flinging options! [Read more] | Read more »
You Could Design Your Own Card for Chain...
If you've ever wanted to create your own item, weapon, trap, or even monster for Chainsaw Warrior: Lords of the Night, this is your chance. Auroch Digital is currently holding a contest so that fans can fight to the death (not really) to see which... | Read more »
Bitcoin Billionaire is Going Back in Tim...
If you thought you managed to buy everything there is to buy in Bitcoin Billionaire and make all the money, well you though wrong. Those of you who made it far enough might remember investing in time travel - and it looks like that investment is... | Read more »
Domino Drop (Games)
Domino Drop 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Domino Drop is a delightful new puzzle game with dominos and gravity!Learn how to play it in a minute, master it day by day.Your... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

27-inch 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $81 off MS...
Adorama has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2218, $81 off MSRP, including a free copy of Apple’s 3-Year AppleCare Protection Plan. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ... Read more
Back-to-School with Tablet and Smartphone Acc...
Belkin helps you prepare for the coming school year with a wide variety of the latest mobile and tablet accessories to outfit both grade school and college students. The line-up includes charging... Read more
11-inch MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSR...
Best Buy has 11-inch MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-store prices may vary: - 11″ 1.6GHz... Read more
iPad Air 2 on sale for up to $100 off MSRP
Best Buy has iPad Air 2s on sale for up to $100 off MSRP on their online store for a limited time. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices available for online... Read more
Sale! 13-inch MacBook Pros on sale for $100 o...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Pros on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.5GHz/500GB MacBook Pro: $999.99 save $100 - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina... Read more
Sale! Save $100 on 13-inch MacBook Airs this...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $899.99 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model.... Read more
Worldwide Tablet Market Decline Continues, Ap...
The worldwide tablet market declined -7.0% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2015 (2Q15) with shipments totaling 44.7 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data... Read more
TP-LINK TL-PA8030P KIT Powerline Featuring Ho...
Consumer and business networking products provider TP-LINK is now shipping its TL-PA8030P KIT AV1200 3-Port Gigabit Passthrough Powerline Starter Kit that expands your home’s network over its... Read more
Apple refurbished iPad Air 2s available for u...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iPad Air 2s available for up to $140 off the price of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 128GB... Read more
Updated Apple iPad Price Trackers
We’ve updated our iPad Air Price Tracker and our iPad mini Price Tracker with the latest information on prices and availability from Apple and other resellers. Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Infrastructure Engineer - *Apple* /Mac - Hil...
Infrastructure Engineer - Apple /Mac Job Code: 1608 # of openings: 1 Description Our fortune 500 client is looking to hire an experienced Infrastructure Engineer to join Read more
Executive Administrative Assistant, *Apple*...
…supporting presentation development for senior leadership. * User experience with Apple hardware and software is preferred. Additional Requirements The following list Read more
*Apple* Bus Company is now hirin - Apple Bus...
Apple Bus Company is now hiring school bus drivers in the Pettis County area. Class B CDL preferred. Free training provided. No nights or weekends required. Flexible Read more
*Apple* Certified Mac Technician - Updated 6...
…and friendly, hands-on technical support to customers troubleshooting and repairing Apple /Mac products with courtesy, speed and skill. Use your problem-solving skills Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.