TweetFollow Us on Twitter

January 93 - Persistent Objects and Object-Oriented Databases for C++

Persistent Objects and Object-Oriented Databases for C++

Dirk Bartels and Jonathan Robie

Reprinted with permission from C++ Report September 1992. Copyright© 1992 SIGS Publications, 588 Broadway, NY, NY; 212/274-0640; 212/274-0646 (fax).

Many programmers first learn about object-oriented programming by buying a C++ compiler and a GUI class library. These libraries are generally well structured, support true object-oriented design and offer a simple, powerful programming interface. This is often enough to convince programmers to use true object-oriented designs. Unfortunately, many of these programmers find themselves tearing their designs apart when they integrate their programs with conventional database systems, which provide almost no support for objects or for expressing the relationships among objects.

Conventional databases are good at managing large amounts of data, sharing data among programs, and fast value-based queries. They are not very good at modeling the relationships among data, however, since everything must be represented as series of a two-dimensional tables.

Object-oriented database systems (OODBS) are a relatively new tool for software developers. Unlike relational and table-oriented systems, they provide full support for the object-oriented programming model used in languages like C++ and Smalltalk. This model is intuitive, good at modeling relationships, and very suitable for large software projects.

An object-oriented database combines the semantics of an object-oriented programming language with the data management and query facilities of a conventional database system. This makes it easy to manage large amounts of data and to model the relationships among the data. If an object-oriented database is integrated with an object-oriented language, it should support the semantics of that language; relationships established in the program should automatically be represented in the database when objects are stored.

This article focuses on the advantages of object-oriented databases over conventional table-oriented and relational databases and the integration of an OODBS into C++. For small applications these advantages mean that your program will be less complex and easier to understand. For large or complex applications these advantages may mean the difference between success and failure.

LIMITS OF CONVENTIONAL DATABASE SYSTEMS

Database systems are designed for managing large amounts of data, and they provide many important features that object-oriented programming languages do not: permanent storage, fast queries, sharing of objects among programs, device independent formats, and sophisticated error handling for database operations.

Relational database systems (RDBS) and table-oriented systems based on B-Tree or Indexed Sequential Access Method (ISAM) are the standard systems currently used in most software development. Each requires that all data be portrayed as a series of two-dimensional tables. The relational model declares the structures, operations, and design principles to be used with these tables.

These systems are quite appropriate for some applications and were a real breakthrough in their time, but software developers are rapidly learning that life is not a series of two-dimensional tables. The growing complexity of modern programs and the increasing use of dynamic data models have pushed traditional databases to their limit. The limited data models they support can result in significant software development costs since they do not allow program designs that closely match the problem domain. They are not even worth considering for some application areas like computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided engineering (CAE), multimedia, and office automation.

Limited Data Types

Modern software systems often contain data types that are not easily modeled using such predeclared types. For example, a CAD program might have an array of shapes, or a desktop publishing program might model a page as a series of frames which may contain bitmaps, paragraphs, or vector drawings. We have already seen that object-oriented programs allow us to declare new data types as needed.

Conventional databases have a fixed set of data types. The better systems include both simple data types like INTEGER, FLOAT, or CHAR and complex data types like DATE, TIME, or CURRENCY. New data types cannot be added by the user. If your database does not have the data type you need then you are stuck. Aggregate data types like arrays are rarely available. The only way to group data is to put it in a table.

Limited Modeling of Data Relationships

In conventional database systems, each item is represented as a row in a table. Tables may be accessed sequentially or by searching for values. The only way to express relationships among items is by setting values in the rows. In each table one or more columns is chosen as the primary key; this key must be unique for each row in the table. For instance, the primary keys for a student, a teacher, and a class might each be represented as identification numbers.

The relational model is weak when showing many-to-one relationships, which generally require the introduction of a new table. In our example, the only way to show which students are taking a class is to create an "enrollment" table which has a row for each student and contains the student identification number and class identification number in each row.

Since relational databases have no concept of hierarchy, it is difficult to model the ISA relationship. Suppose we have a "people" table, a "students" table, and a "teachers" table. Every student is also a person, and some of his fields are in each table. To update all of a student's information you must find the rows of each table whose identification numbers match. Every level in the hierarchy requires a new table, and every program using the database must update every relevant table appropriately. The hierarchy is not explicitly represented in the database; you simply have to know why the various tables are there.

No Way of Grouping Code With Data

We have already seen that object-oriented programming languages allow related code and data to be combined to form objects. There is no way to do this in a conventional database system. If you know the name of a table you may use it, and the system will not prevent you from changing the wrong table. As long as you have the right password everything in the database is globally accessible to all of your code.

Limited Manipulation of Data

Database languages are often very poor at manipulating data. SQL, for instance, does not allow you to perform computations on your data as input to a query, nor does it allow you to perform computations on the result of a query. A computer language designer would say that SQL is not computationally complete even though it is relationally complete; a normal human being might say that SQL is great for searching but lousy for anything else. Because of this, most serious applications are written in conventional programming languages using some kind of SQL-based interface to the database.

Poor Integration

Since the database and the host programming language use two different models and different data types the programmer must either perform all operations directly in the database or constantly convert between the two systems. The first method does not let the programmer use many features of the host language; the second means a great deal of overhead and frustration since the relationships among data must be constantly converted to support both programming models. Such a program has two distinct designs, one for the program itself and one for the database.

Summary

To store data in a conventional database, it must be dissected into a series of two-dimensional tables. Only predeclared data types are supported. Object-oriented programming languages have a rich set of features for creating data types and representing the relationships among data that are not supported in such databases. In the rest of this article, we discuss features that an object-oriented database must support. To illustrate these features, we examine POET, a commercial object-oriented database system with which we are connected.

POET
Persistence

The original implementation of Smalltalk had a simple method for storing objects: the program's entire memory image could be dumped to disk and restored when running the program later. This scheme has some real advantages. It is very simple to implement, requires almost no effort from the programmer, and fully implements all aspects of the programming language (after all, the program sticks everything in memory somewhere!). It also has some real disadvantages. The number of objects that can be stored depends on the amount of main memory available, the programming context must be stored and retrieved as a whole, objects may not be shared among programs or retrieved on another kind of computer, and there is no way to implement intelligent error recovery.
 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

How to build a successful civilisation i...
GodFinger 2 grants you godlike powers, leaving you to raise a civilization of followers. In the spirit of games like Black & White, the GodFinger games will see you building bigger and better villages, developing more advanced technology and... | Read more »
How to get all the crabs in Mr Crab 2
Mr. Crab 2 may look like a cutesy platformer for kids, but if you're the kind of person who likes to complete a game 100%, you'll soon realise that it's a tougher than a crustacean's shell. [Read more] | Read more »
How to be a star in Britney Spears: Amer...
If you've ever wanted to be a star, baby, then you've probably already checked out Britney Spears: American Dream and are happily making your way up the charts. But fame doesn't come easy, and everyone needs a helping hand sometimes. So we've got... | Read more »
AppSpy is hiring a part time Staff Write...
| Read more »
How to save lives in ER Surgery Simulato...
A serious earthquake has struck a nearby town in ER Surgery Simulator - Emergency Doctor, and it’s up to you to save the victims. [Read more] | Read more »
Tips and tricks to get a high score in G...
Ketchapp Games loves the endless runner genre. And its newest game, Gravity Switch, is no exception. Gravity Switch takes a fresh approach, though, as you move a block, suspended in zero gravity, safely through a maze of shifting pillars. If the... | Read more »
Tips and tricks to get a high score in S...
Smash Fu is a high-paced tile-tapping game that requires quick reflexes and some practice. You’ll have to smash bricks with the skill of a seasoned black belt to get a high score. To raise the stakes a bit, you’ll also have to avoid tapping any... | Read more »
How to keep the ball rolling in Dropple
If you're new to the minimalist puzzler Dropple, you may find yourself struggling to make it beyond the first couple of steps before your ball falls into the endless abyss below. [Read more] | Read more »
Game Craft releases new Legend of War ti...
Set for release at the end of this month, real time strategy title Legend of War seems sure to delight with a veritable feast of sweet features to get stuck into. Developed by Game Craft, the game is due for release through both the App Store and... | Read more »
How not to die in Traffic Rider
Traffic Rider, an Out Run-esque game in which your ride a motorcycle recklessly into trffic, might not seem particularly complicated. [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple refurbished iMacs available for up to $...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 21″ & 27″ iMacs available for up to $350 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are available: - 21″ 3.... Read more
Textkraft Professional Becomes A Mobile Produ...
The new update 4.1 of Textkraft Professional for the iPad comes with many new and updated features that will be particularly of interest to self-publishers of e-books. Highlights include import and... Read more
SnipNotes 2.0 – Intelligent note-taking for i...
Indie software developer Felix Lisczyk has announced the release and immediate availability of SnipNotes 2.0, the next major version of his productivity app for iOS devices and Apple Watch.... Read more
Pitch Clock – The Entrepreneur’s Wingman Laun...
Grand Rapids, Michigan based Skunk Tank has announced the release and immediate availability of Pitch Clock – The Entrepreneur’s Wingman 1.1, the company’s new business app available exclusively on... Read more
13-inch 2.9GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.9GHz Retina MacBook Pro (model #MF841LL/A) on sale for $1599 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP. Amazon also has the 13″ 3.9GHz Retina... Read more
Apple price trackers, updated continuously
Scan our Apple Price Trackers for the latest information on sales, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers. We update the trackers continuously: - 15″... Read more
Clearance 12-inch Retina MacBooks available s...
B&H Photo has dropped prices on leftover 2015 12″ Retina MacBooks with models now available starting at $999. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 12″ 1.1GHz Gray Retina MacBook... Read more
Check Apple prices on any device with the iTr...
MacPrices is proud to offer readers a free iOS app (iPhones, iPads, & iPod touch) and Android app (Google Play and Amazon App Store) called iTracx, which allows you to glance at today’s lowest... Read more
New 2016 13-inch 256GB MacBook Air on sale fo...
B&H Photo has the new 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air (model MMGG2LL/A) on sale for $1149 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP. Amazon has the 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB... Read more
Apple refurbished iPad Air 2s available start...
Apple has Certified Refurbished iPad Air 2 available starting at $339. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 128GB Wi-Fi iPad Air 2: $499 - 64GB Wi-Fi iPad... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Nissan Service Technicians - Apple A...
Apple Automotive is one of the fastest growing dealer...and it shows. Consider making the switch to the Apple Automotive Group today! At Apple Automotive , Read more
ISCS *Apple* ID Site Support Engineer - APP...
…position, we are looking for an individual who has experience supporting customers with Apple ID issues and enjoys this area of support. This person should be Read more
Automotive Sales Consultant - Apple Ford Linc...
…you. The best candidates are smart, technologically savvy and are customer focused. Apple Ford Lincoln Apple Valley is different, because: $30,000 annual salary Read more
*Apple* Support Technician II - Worldventure...
…global, fast growing member based travel company, is currently sourcing for an Apple Support Technician II to be based in our Plano headquarters. WorldVentures is Read more
Restaurant Manager (Neighborhood Captain) - A...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.