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.
 
AAPL
$102.99
Apple Inc.
+0.52
MSFT
$44.38
Microsoft Corpora
-0.50
GOOG
$532.71
Google Inc.
+6.17

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Evernote 5.6.2 - Create searchable notes...
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from... Read more
OmniOutliner 4.1.3 - Organize your ideas...
OmniOutliner is a flexible program for creating, collecting, and organizing information. Give your creativity a kick start by using an application that's actually designed to help you think. It's... Read more
BBEdit 11.0 - Powerful text and HTML edi...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more
Apple Security Update 2014-005 - For OS...
Apple Security Update is recommended for all users and improves the security of Mac OS X. For information on the security content of this update, please visit this website: http://support.apple.com/... Read more
EyeTV 3.6.6 - Watch and record TV on you...
EyeTV brings a rich TV experience to your Mac. Watch live TV on your Mac. Pause, rewind, and record whenever you want. EyeTV gives you powerful control over what you watch and how you watch it. Put... Read more
RapidWeaver 6.0 - Create template-based...
RapidWeaver is a next-generation Web design application to help you easily create professional-looking Web sites in minutes. No knowledge of complex code is required, RapidWeaver will take care of... Read more
NTFS 12.0.39 - Provides full read and wr...
Paragon NTFS breaks down the barriers between Windows and OS X. Paragon NTFS effectively solves the communication problems between the Mac system and NTFS, providing full read and write access to... Read more
RestoreMeNot 2.0.3 - Disable window rest...
RestoreMeNot provides a simple way to disable the window restoration for individual applications so that you can fine-tune this behavior to suit your needs. Please note that RestoreMeNot is designed... Read more
Command-C 1.1.5 - Clipboard sharing tool...
Command-C is a revolutionary app which makes easy to share your clipboard between iOS and OS X using your local WiFi network, even if the app is not currently opened. Copy anything (text, pictures,... Read more
Macgo Blu-ray Player 2.10.9.1750 - Blu-r...
Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player can bring you the most unforgettable Blu-ray experience on your Mac. Overview Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player can satisfy just about every need you could possibly have in a Blu-ray... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Super Glyph Quest (Games)
Super Glyph Quest 1.01 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.01 (iTunes) Description: Adventure is back Questers! Combine elemental glyphs together to cast powerful spells and vanquish adorable monsters in... | Read more »
Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Wi...
Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $5.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Travel to Northern Allansia’s perilous Icefinger Mountains to defeat the wicked Snow Witch in this... | Read more »
Star Warfare 2: Payback Review
Star Warfare 2: Payback Review By Blake Grundman on October 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: ONE-TRICK PONYUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for Star Warfare 2’s free-firing fun to turn into... | Read more »
TinType by Hipstamatic (Photography)
TinType by Hipstamatic 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Photography Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Create hauntingly beautiful, soul capturing portraits with TinType by Hipstamatic. Inspired by daguerreotypes,... | Read more »
The Latest Update for Heroes of Dragon A...
The Latest Update for Heroes of Dragon Age Introduces Daily PvE Challenges Posted by Ellis Spice on October 22nd, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Bee Brilliant Review
Bee Brilliant Review By Jennifer Allen on October 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: SAMEY MATCH-3Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Want even more Match-3 gaming and fancy a bee based twist? Bee Brilliant is that game. Don’t... | Read more »
A New Trailer has Been Revealed for Epic...
A New Trailer has Been Revealed for Epic of Kings Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 22nd, 2014 [ permalink ] Dead Mage Inc. has released a new, action-packed trailer for the upcoming Epic of Kings. | Read more »
Find the Line Review
Find the Line Review By Campbell Bird on October 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: INSLIDE THE LINESUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Tease out beautiful line drawings in this unique, free-to-play puzzle game.   | Read more »
Things Get Magical in The Sims FreePlay...
Things Get Magical in The Sims FreePlay with a New Halloween Update Posted by Ellis Spice on October 22nd, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
The Silent Age Episode 2 Review
The Silent Age Episode 2 Review By Jennifer Allen on October 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: ROUNDING THINGS OFF NICELYUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Rounding off a great point and click adventure comes The Silent Age... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Save with Best Buy’s College Student Deals
Take an additional $50 off all MacBooks and iMacs at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through November 1st. Anyone with a valid .EDU email address can take advantage... Read more
iPad Air 2 & iPad mini 3 Best Tablets Yet...
The new iPads turned out to be pretty much everything I’d been hoping for and more than I’d expected.”More” particularly in terms of a drinking-from-a-firehose choice of models and configurations,... Read more
Drafts 4 Reinvents iOS Productivity App
N Richland Hills, Texas based Agile Tortoise has announced the release of Drafts 4 for iPhone and iPad. Drafts is a quick capture note taking app with flexible output actions. Drafts 4 scales from... Read more
AT&T accepting preorders for new iPads fo...
AT&T Wireless is accepting preorders for the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, cellular models, for $100 off MSRP with a 2-year service agreement: - 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi + Cellular: $529.99 - 64GB... Read more
Apple offering refurbished Mac Pros for up to...
The Apple Store is offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2013 Mac Pros for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The... Read more
Select MacBook Airs $100 off MSRP, free shipp...
B&H Photo has 2014 a couple of MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They also include free copies of Parallels Desktop and LoJack for... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $100 o...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Strong iPhone, Mac And App Store Sales Drive...
Apple on Monday announced financial results for its fiscal 2014 fourth quarter ended September 27, 2014. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $42.1 billion and quarterly net profit of $8.5 billion... Read more
Apple Posts How-To For OS X Recovery
OS X 10.7 Lion and later include OS X Recovery. This feature includes all of the tools you need to reinstall OS X, repair your disk, and even restore from a Time Machine backup. OS X Recovery... Read more
Mac OS X Versions (Builds) Supported By Vario...
Apple Support has posted a handy resource explaining which Mac OS X versions (builds) originally shipped with or are available for your computer via retail discs, downloads, or Software Update. Apple... Read more

Jobs Board

Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…customers purchase our products, you're the one who helps them get more out of their new Apple technology. Your day in the Apple Store is filled with a range of Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.