How Are People Using

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2006-01-06 Print this article Print

Light Databases?"> On the "MySQL is still a toy" front, Jared Nedzel wrote in to say that hes sorry, but he will not be using a database that doesnt maintain referential integrity. "Are there a lot of unnecessary features in Oracle? Sure. But it has referential integrity that works," Nedzel wrote.
"The most important thing about a database is not its speed or its ease of use," he continued. "The most important thing is that it safeguards the data. Everything else is secondary."
If MySQL users are still having serious issues with referential integrity—with Version 5.0? With earlier versions?—please let me know. If its an issue eWEEK needs to explore, Im there. When it comes to getting lighter than light, one reader prefers a featherweight. Reilly Burke, technical advisor for Aero Training Products Inc., wrote in about a complete dBase database application server for Linux the company created. His company runs its Web site with it, and for what they need, "Its light, fast and reliable," he wrote. "It also imports and exports from Excel spreadsheet formats, and so it cooperates nicely with OpenOffice, MS Excel, etc." Its not rocket science, but it does all the e-commerce that Aero needs—which is really what light versions are all about, from a user perspective anyway, right? "The entire Web site fits into a standard $25/month ISP package, so we dont need an IT department, security specialists, etc.," Burke wrote. You can check out the companys site at here. But what about people who are actually using the light versions of the proprietary databases? What do they do with these things? Jacob F. Love, lead business administrator for Information Technology at the University of Michigans College of Engineering, said hes using a light version of Oracle at home for small projects or the occasional nonprofit that he helps out. This, he pointed out, is the reverse of Microsofts strategy of getting people hooked on the free product and hoping theyll upgrade. "I use Oracle at work, so when I want to develop at home … its great to have a freebie that I can use without learning another product," he wrote. "Ive tried using Access and Filemaker for these sorts of things, but I inevitably reach a point where even though I could fire up Visual Basic or Filemakers macro language, I realize that everything I want is pre-built in Oracle, so it makes more sense just to go with that rather than reinventing the wheel." Will Sleepycat save MySQL? Click here to read more. Finally, David Darling wrote in to relay some recent experiences with SQL Express 2005. For his Web-based document-management applications DocDockFREE and DocDockPRO (available on, ZDNet Downloads, MSN Dowloads, etc.), he needed something that was available for wide-scale distribution at low or no cost to the user. He said the product is "super easy to use and eliminates most, if not all of the problems" he had encountered with MySQL and the others with respect to user setup. "Simply create an empty database within the App_Data directory of a .NET 2.0 Web application and run a script against it to create the table structure of the database as well as any required default data needed by your application," he said. "Copy the completed database to a backup location (for safety). A client simply installs your ASP.NET 2 Web application to a Windows server running IIS. Your completed and ready-to-use database is installed along with the application, and should the target server not have .NET Framework 2 or SQL Express 2005 installed on them, they will automatically be downloaded from Microsoft and installed for the user." Two simple steps later to change the security settings on the installed database, and the Web application is ready to go, Darling said. Darling said hes had better luck with SQL Express than with open-source databases that have failed due to database configuration or setup issues. Darling did point out what he called a little-known SQL Express 2005 nasty, though: "Microsoft really does not want thousands of independent developers competing with them in the new on-demand world," he wrote. "To that end, they slipped a restriction into the licensing file of the production release of the SQL Express 2005 product. As long as your distributed applications are used by end-user companies directly the software can be used free of charge. Try to develop next-generation hostable Web applications that can be rented by the thousands, and suddenly your application must use the commercial database product for its data store." Well, yes, but isnt that the point of SQL Express? To sell more commercial licenses? If its unpalatable, theres always PostgreSQL. Or Firebird. Or MySQL. But wait. Another reader points out that, now that stored procedures are available in MySQL 5.0, DBAs will be needed somewhat more than before, because stored procedure writing can become "quite twisted." Its getting hard to win, isnt it? But the silver lining is that DBAs can look forward to good employment prospects in the new year. Have a Happy New Year, keep writing twisted stored procedures, and keep writing to me with these tales of trying to do databases on the down and dirty. Lisa Vaas is Ziff Davis Internets news editor in charge of operations. She is also the editor of eWEEK.coms Database and Business Intelligence topic center. She has been with eWEEK and since 1995, most recently covering enterprise applications and database technology. She can be reached at Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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