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 <online@mactech.com>

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.

Oracle

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 <www.mactech.com/online/>.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

LaunchBar 6.9 - Powerful file/URL/email...
LaunchBar is an award-winning productivity utility that offers an amazingly intuitive and efficient way to search and access any kind of information stored on your computer or on the Web. It provides... Read more
MacFamilyTree 8.2.1 - Create and explore...
MacFamilyTree gives genealogy a facelift: modern, interactive, convenient and fast. Explore your family tree and your family history in a way generations of chroniclers before you would have loved.... Read more
Spotify 1.0.57.474. - Stream music, crea...
Spotify is a streaming music service that gives you on-demand access to millions of songs. Whether you like driving rock, silky R&B, or grandiose classical music, Spotify's massive catalogue puts... Read more
VOX 2.8.26 - Music player that supports...
VOX just sounds better! The beauty is in its simplicity, yet behind the minimal exterior lies a powerful music player with a ton of features and support for all audio formats you should ever need.... Read more
beaTunes 5.0.1 - Organize your music col...
beaTunes is a full-featured music player and organizational tool for music collections. How well organized is your music library? Are your artists always spelled the same way? Any R.E.M. vs REM?... Read more
LibreOffice 5.3.4.2 - 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
Sparkle Pro 2.2 - $79.99
Sparkle Pro will change your mind if you thought building websites wasn't for you. Sparkle is the intuitive site builder that lets you create sites for your online portfolio, team or band pages, or... Read more
calibre 3.1.1 - Complete e-book library...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more
calibre 3.1.1 - Complete e-book library...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more
Sparkle Pro 2.2 - $79.99
Sparkle Pro will change your mind if you thought building websites wasn't for you. Sparkle is the intuitive site builder that lets you create sites for your online portfolio, team or band pages, or... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

This War of Mine gets a new ending and m...
This War of Mine just got a big new update, featuring free DLC that adds a new ending to the game, among other exciting changes. The update is celebrating the game's two-year release anniversary. Apart from the new ending, which will be quite... | Read more »
Summon eight new heroes in Fire Emblem H...
Nintendo keeps coming at us with Fire Emblem Heroes updates, and it doesn't look like that trend is stopping anytime soon. The folks behind the game have just announced the new War of the Clerics Voting Gauntlet, expected to start next Tuesday. [... | Read more »
The best deals on the App Store this wee...
iOS publishers are pulling out all the stops this week -- there's a huge number of seriously great games at discounted prices this week. Let's not waste any time and get right down to business. [Read more] | Read more »
The House of da Vinci (Games)
The House of da Vinci 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Enter The House of Da Vinci, a new must-try 3D puzzle adventure game. Solve mechanical puzzles, discover hidden... | Read more »
Solve the disappearance of history’s gre...
Blue Brain Games invites you to indulge in an immersive hands-on 3D puzzle adventure in similar vein to The Room series, with its debut release The House of Da Vinci. Set during the historic period of the Italian Renaissance (when Leonardo himself... | Read more »
Age of Rivals (Games)
Age of Rivals 3.3 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 3.3 (iTunes) Description: Deep civilization-building strategy in a fast-paced card game! | Read more »
Panthera Frontier (Games)
Panthera Frontier 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Angry Birds Evolution beginner's gu...
Angry Birds changes things up a fair bit in its latest iteration, Angry Birds Evolution. The familiar sling-shot physics mechanics are still there, but the game now features team-based gameplay, RPG elements, and a new top-down view. With all of... | Read more »
Sega Forever is for the retro game fans
Sega is launching a new retro games service titled Sega Forever, in a move that's sure to delight games enthusiasts with a bit of nostalgia. Sega's releasing five classic games for free. The titles include Sonic the Hedgehog, Phantasy Star II,... | Read more »
The Little Acre (Games)
The Little Acre 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

ABBYY TextGrabber 6 for iOS Implements Instan...
ABBYY has announced the release of TextGrabber 6.0.0, an important feature update to the company’s productivity app developed for iOS and Android devices. TextGrabber 6.0 now offers Real-Time... Read more
vPhone, First Smartphone That Can’t Be Lost,...
Austin, Texas based Hypori has introduced the vPhone, a virtual smartphone that affords every business user the benefits of separate work and personal phones, conveniently delivered on a single... Read more
Save this weekend with 2016 refurbished MacBo...
Apple has dropped prices on Certified Refurbished 2016 15″ and 13″ MacBook Pros by as much as $590 off original MSRP. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: -... Read more
New 27-inch 3.4GHz iMac on sale for $1699, sa...
MacMall has the new 2017 27″ 3.4GHz iMac (MNE92LL/A) in stock and on sale for $1699 including free shipping. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Clearance 2016 MacBook Pros available for up...
B&H Photo has clearance 2016 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $400 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz... Read more
Apple Ranks 9th In comScore Top 50 U.S. Digit...
comScore, Inc. has released its monthly ranking of U.S. online activity at the top digital media properties for May 2017 based on data from comScore Media Metrix Multi-Platform. * Entity has... Read more
10.5-inch iPad Pros available for up to $20 o...
B&H Photo has the new 2017 10.5″ iPad Pros available for up to $20 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: - 64GB iPad Pro WiFi: $649 - 256GB iPad Pro WiFi: $749 - 512GB... Read more
Three Off-The-Beaten-Track iOS Apps That Dese...
One of the great things about using iPads and iPhones is the vast selection of apps available for most anything you want or need to do. The three outlined in this article have been in my core app... Read more
Apple No. 1 Spot In Gartner Top 100 Vendors i...
Gartner, Inc. has unveiled the top global 100 vendors in IT in 2016 based on their revenue across IT (excluding communication services) and component market segments. In the Gartner Global Top 100:... Read more
Clearance iMacs available for up to $300 off...
B&H Photo has clearance 21″ and 27″ Apple iMacs available starting at $949, each including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: - 27″ 3.3GHz iMac 5K: $1999 $300 off original MSRP - 27″... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* News Product Marketing Mgr., Publish...
…organizational consensus on strategy and vision for publisher tools, authoring, and Apple News Format.Carries this strategy and vision across the organization to Read more
*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
Security Data Analyst - *Apple* Information...
…data sources need to be collected to allow Information Security to better protect Apple employees and customers from a wide range of threats.Act as the subject matter Read more
Lead *Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple I...
…integrity, and trust.Success Metrics/Key Performance Indicators:Quantitative* Year over Year growth in Apple Product and Beyond the Box sales in the assigned Point of Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant till v%u00E5r...
…ethics, integrity, and trust.Success Metrics/Key Performance Indicators:QuantitativeYear over Year growth in Apple Product and Beyond the Box sales in the assigned Point Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.