TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Jun 00 Online

Volume Number: 16 (2000)
Issue Number: 6
Column Tag: MacTech Online

Relational Databases for Mac OS X Server

by Jeff Clites <>

Earlier this year we covered WebObjects, but we didn't go into detail about the database solutions available to use with it. This month we are going to cover relational databases which run under Mac OS X Server. I should mention up front, though, that it's perfectly possible, and quite common, to run your application server and database on different machines, under different platforms. There can be convenience and speed advantages to running everything on one machine, but as your website scales up to higher capacities, you're certain to reach a point where you need to run multiple copies of your application server, on multiple machines, and modern databases are designed with the expectation that they will be accessed simultaneously from multiple locations. Of course, backing a WebObjects application is only one use for a database, and you may have other reasons for wanting a solution that you can run locally.

Database Adaptors

I should also explain a little bit about the way that WebObjects interfaces with databases. They communicate through an EOAdaptor, which usually takes the form of a shared library. The adaptor and the rest of the Enterprise Objects Framework (EOF) take care of most of the details of this communication, so that the developer doesn't have to worry about differences between the databases or between the dialects of SQL that they support. (It's even possible to develop adaptors to interface to non-relational databases, and Apple supplies an example Flat File Adaptor which lets you access formatted text files as though they were database tables.) Apple supplies EOAdaptors for Oracle, Sybase, Informix, and ODBC, although not for all platforms on which WebObjects runs. There are third-party adaptors available for many others—all of the databases we'll cover below have adaptors available. Note that there is currently no ODBC EOAdaptor available for Mac OS X Server, because the ODBC libraries aren't available for the platform, and neither are drivers for any of the databases you may wish to access by ODBC. (ODBC, or Open Database Connectivity, is a technology invented by Microsoft, and attempts to allow you to access different databases via a common API, with support for different databases being supplied by ODBC drivers. Its goal is analogous to that of the EOF, although it is functionally quite different.) Third parties have announced that they plan to bring ODBC support to Mac OS X, but it hasn't arrived yet.

SQL-based Databases

You have three main choices if you do want an SQL-based database which runs on Mac OS X Server itself: FrontBase, OpenBase, and MySQL. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice will depend on your situation.

OpenBase has had a long history on the OpenStep platform, and was written specifically to run there. It comes with graphical administration tools, and has a few features, such as the ability to notify applications when data changes and integration with REALbasic, which are not commonly found in other databases. Mac OS X Server ships with OpenBase Lite, a free version which allows you to work with the included sample databases, but this version lacks administration tools and isn't really appropriate for development work. There is also a fully functional, time-limited demonstration version which you can download from the OpenBase website. This gives you ample opportunity to try out OpenBase for yourself, but for actual development or deployment you need to obtain a commercial license. Also note that OpenBase is available for Windows NT and Solaris, in addition to Mac OS X Server, so it is a good match for heterogeneous environments in which multiple operating systems are used, or migration from one to another is likely.

FrontBase, produced by Frontline Software of Denmark, is a cross-platform database written in C. It runs on a variety of platforms, including Mac OS X Server, Windows NT, Solaris, and Linux. Like OpenBase, it includes graphical administration tools, allowing you to create and manage databases easily. (Of course, you can also do this using SQL directly.) One key attraction of FrontBase is its flexible licensing terms. There are a number of different levels, based on different degrees of support and different features, such as bulk import tools and the ability to lock tables in memory. The lowest level is free, and is fully functional but lacks security features. This basic version is more than adequate for development work, and can even be used for deployment if you keep it safely behind a firewall.

The third choice is the open source database MySQL. (It's open source, but there is a fee for some types of commercial usage.) MySQL is very popular in the Linux community, and Anjo Krank has created a set of patches which allows it to run under Mac OS X Server. Actually, recent versions of MySQL will compile and run without patching, although you need a pthreads compatibility library which he provides. (He has also developed an EOAdaptor for MySQL, and a Perl DBI driver for FrontBase.) MySQL's claim to fame, other than being open source, is that it is extremely fast. The reason for its speed is, in part, that it lacks certain key database features, such as transactionality and rollback. These are major capabilities to do without, and in fact technically disqualify it from being a relational database, but if you can live with its limitations then it can be an excellent choice for many applications. Due to its heritage, you'll have to survive without built-in graphical management tools, but in the database arena it is often convenient to manage your database directly via SQL, because it allows you to easily save and reuse scripts for common tasks.


As I mentioned before, you can certainly run your database on another platform, even if you are developing for Mac OS X Server. One setup you may want to consider is running Oracle8i under Linux. (This would unfortunately mean running it on an Intel box—Oracle runs neither on Mac OS X Server, nor on LinuxPPC. Given that Larry Ellison sits on Apple's board of directors, there is some hope that this situation may improve in the future. A Darwin version could do amazing things for the platform.) Neither Oracle nor Linux is trivial to administer, but I've heard it argued pretty convincingly that you should use Oracle from the beginning, even if you thing it's more database than you need. The argument goes that if you are running a database-backed website, you will eventually need Oracle, and your life will be easier if you don't have to deal with migrating to, and learning to administer, a new database just when your business is taking off and you're exceeding your capacity. (It's also true that both Linux and Oracle experience looks good on a resume these days.) Oracle is by far the most widely used database on the planet, and it has an excellent reputation for performance and reliability, although it's almost impossible to get hard numbers to quantify this. Personal experience has led me to believe that commercial databases all perform similarly when it comes to raw retrieval speed, although Oracle's unique approach to concurrency control and locking should give it an advantage when many processes are writing to the database at the same time. (In a nutshell, readers and writers rarely interfere with one another.) Oracle also has a very well thought out approach to backup management, and if your database fails you can often recover all the way up to the very last transaction committed. While making your decision, you should be aware that Oracle is extremely expensive, and although its licensing scheme is difficult to decipher, it does appear to be free for development use. If you plan on running a business which will depend on your database, you should give Oracle serious consideration. For extremely high-capacity deployments you will probably want to run Oracle on Solaris, and migrating from Linux to Solaris will be much easier than migrating from a different database architecture. (Oracle has been very good about making its database operate almost identically on all supported platforms.)

Once you've committed to a database, check out the MacTech Online web pages at <>.


Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Dash 3.4.0 - Instant search and offline...
Dash is an API documentation browser and code snippet manager. Dash helps you store snippets of code, as well as instantly search and browse documentation for almost any API you might use (for a full... Read more
RapidWeaver 7.1.7 - Create template-base...
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
Printopia 2.1.22 - Share Mac printers wi...
Run Printopia on your Mac to share its printers to any capable iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Printopia will also add virtual printers, allowing you to save print-outs to your Mac and send to apps.... Read more
SteerMouse 5.0 - Powerful third-party mo...
SteerMouse is an advanced driver for USB and Bluetooth mice. It also supports Apple Mighty Mouse very well. SteerMouse can assign various functions to buttons that Apple's software does not allow,... Read more
Arq 5.5.1 - Online backup to Google Driv...
Arq is super-easy online backup for Mac and Windows computers. Back up to your own cloud account (Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Cloud Storage, any S3-compatible server... Read more
Slack 2.3.0 - Collaborative communicatio...
Slack is a collaborative communication app that simplifies real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern working teams. Version 2.3.0: Note: Now requires OS X 10.8 or later New The app... Read more
Cocktail 10.1 - General maintenance and...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for macOS that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
Firefox 49.0.2 - Fast, safe Web browser.
Firefox offers a fast, safe Web browsing experience. Browse quickly, securely, and effortlessly. With its industry-leading features, Firefox is the choice of Web development professionals and casual... Read more
Art Text 3.1 - $49.99
Art Text is graphic design software to create stunning illustrations, such as badges, flyers, logos, social headers and icons, text mockups, website graphics and buttons, picture captions, word art,... Read more
AirRadar 3.1.9 - $9.95
With AirRadar, scanning for wireless networks is now easier and more personalized! It allows you to scan for open networks and tag them as favourites or filter them out. View detailed network... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

WitchSpring2 (Games)
WitchSpring2 1.27 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.27 (iTunes) Description: This is the story of Luna, the Moonlight Witch as she sets out into the world. This is a sequel to Witch Spring. Witch Spring 2... | Read more »
4 popular apps getting a Halloween makeo...
'Tis the season for all things spooky. So much, so, in fact, that even apps are getting into the spirt of things, dressing up in costume and spreading jack o' lanterns all about the place. These updates bring frightening new character skins, scary... | Read more »
Pokémon GO celebrates Halloween with can...
The folks behind Pokémon GO have some exciting things planned for their Halloween celebration, the first in-game event since it launched back in July. Starting October 26 and ending on November 1, trainers will be running into large numbers of... | Read more »
Best Fiends Forever Guide: How to collec...
The fiendship in Seriously's hit Best Fiends has been upgraded this time around in Best Fiends Forever. It’s a fast-paced clicker with lots of color and style--kind of reminiscent of a ‘90s animal mascot game like Crash Bandicoot. The game... | Read more »
5 apps for the budding mixologist
Creating your own cocktails is something of an art form, requiring a knack for unique tastes and devising interesting combinations. It's easy to get started right in your own kitchen, though, even if you're a complete beginner. Try using one of... | Read more »
5 mobile strategy games to try when you...
Strategy enthusiasts everywhere are celebrating the release of Civilization VI this week, and so far everyone seems pretty satisfied with the first full release in the series since 2010. The series has always been about ultra-addictive gameplay... | Read more »
Popclaire talk to us about why The Virus...
Humanity has succumbed to a virus that’s spread throughout the world. Now the dead have risen with a hunger for human flesh, and all that remain are a few survivors. One of those survivors has just called you for help. That’s the plot in POPCLAIRE’... | Read more »
Oceans & Empires preview build sets...
Hugely ambitious sea battler Oceans & Empires is available to play in preview form now on Google Play - but download it quickly, as it’s setting sail away in just a few days. [Read more] | Read more »
Rusty Lake: Roots (Games)
Rusty Lake: Roots 1.1.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.1.4 (iTunes) Description: James Vanderboom's life drastically changes when he plants a special seed in the garden of the house he has inherited.... | Read more »
Flippy Bottle Extreme! and 3 other physi...
Flippy Bottle Extreme! takes on the bottle flipping craze with a bunch of increasingly tricky physics platforming puzzles. It's difficult and highly frustrating, but also addictive. When you begin to master the game, the sense of achievement is... | Read more »

Price Scanner via

64GB Apple TV on sale for $159, save $40
Best Buy has the 64GB Apple TV on sale for $40 off MSRP on their online store. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders only, in-store price may... Read more
EyeQue Introduces iOS And Android Based Advan...
Affordable vision technologies developers EyeQue have announced what they claim to be the world’s most advanced intelligent vision solution, pitched as enabling anyone, anywhere to easily and... Read more
Smartwatch Market Tanks, Declining 51.6% in 2...
The worldwide smartwatch market experienced a round of growing pains in the third quarter of 2016 (3Q16), resulting in a year-over-year decline in shipment volumes. According to data from the... Read more
CAZE announces Ultra Thin Glass Screen Protec...
Hong Kong based CAZE has announced its first ultra thin glass screen protector, the Glazz Pro for iPhone 7/7 Plus. Glazz Pro is made from chemically reinforced glass with an anti-fingerprint... Read more
11-inch MacBook Airs on sale for up to $120 o...
Newegg has 11″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP. Shipping is free: - 11″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air: $799.99 $100 off MSRP - 11″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air: $979 $120 off MSRP Read more
Up to $300 off Macs, $20 off iPads with Apple...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free, and... Read more
Apple’s Thursday “Hello Again” Event A Largel...
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a strong record of Apple hardware prediction accuracy, forecasts in a new note to investors released late last week that a long-overdue redo of the... Read more
12-inch Retina MacBooks on sale for $100 off...
Amazon has 2016 12″ Apple Retina MacBooks on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free: - 12″ 1.1GHz Silver Retina MacBook: $1199.99 $100 off MSRP - 12″ 1.1GHz Gold Retina MacBook: $1199.99 $100 off... Read more
Save up to $600 with Apple refurbished Mac Pr...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac Pros available 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 following... Read more
PixelStyle Inexpensive Photo Editor For Mac W...
PixelStyle is an all-in-one Mac Photo Editor with a huge range of high-end filters including lighting, blurs, distortions, tilt-shift, shadows, glows and so forth. PixelStyle Photo Editor for Mac... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 52812872 Houston, Texas, United States Posted: Oct. 18, 2016 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Read more
Lead *Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple (...
# Lead Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 52812906 Houston, Texas, United States Posted: Oct. 18, 2016 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** The Lead ASC is an Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Towson,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Software Engineering Intern: Integration / QA...
Job Summary Apple is currently seeking enthusiastic interns who can work full-time for a minimum of 12-weeks between Fall 2015 and Summer 2016. Our software Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.