I found it slightly amusing that a book that starts out extolling how simple and easy Apache Derby is then runs on for over 500 pages explaining it. A small smile was also on my face when I read the author's justifications for using Derby over XML files and how Derby would be a "perfect fit" for small business client databases.
I'm not entirely buying this so far.
Derby itself is an open source SQL database packed into approximately 2MB of Java. How that grabs you probably depends upon your view of Java and your opinion of SQL. I tend to think that SQL databases get misapplied fairly often when simpler tools would make more sense. Of course the opposite is also true: we have all seen Excel spreadsheets perverted into business applications. I don't know which is worse: killing flies with a shotgun or shooting paper clips at them with rubber bands.
As to Java itself, well, I'm not a big fan. That's undoubtedly caused by unfortunate experiences with apps that never should have been deployed in this way and by less than perfect operating system integration. I'm very impatient when I see "loading Java virtual machine" and get more than peeved when Java doesn't work at all due to flawed paths and the like. Faster hardware and faster networks will surely eliminate the delays I find so irritating, and better install scripts will someday smooth Java installations and upgrades, so I'm sure this is all merely a temporary distaste: no doubt Java and I will be great pals eventually.
Admittedly, a small footprint SQL database embeddable in a Java app is an attractive idea, assuming that using a database makes sense in the first place and that the purported advantages of Java have entranced and seduced you away from platform specific code. Given that, Apache Derby is indeed the bee's knees, the best thing since sliced bread, and the obvious choice of four out of five dentists.
And having reached that conclusion, this book is your guide to bending Derby to your will, including using it from Perl or Python and so on. There is a bit of over-sell here; the authors sound a bit like proud parents bragging about juniors latest accomplishments. But the authors are all database heavy hitters, so it's understandable that they exude more enthusiasm than jaundice.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2011-05-02 Anthony Lawrence