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Apache Derby - Off to the Races

© November 2005 Anthony Lawrence

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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Mon Nov 28 12:10:24 2005: 1383   drag

I'd probably rather use something like (link) (db2) or plain text files for most of what you'd use derby for. Anything above that you have MySQL and PostgreSQL to contend with, which are probably better SQL servers.

Java kinda sucks. Sun's biggest mistake is licensing the java runtime in such a way that it's impossible to redistribute and remains propriatory. In theory it works out great.. but in practice a C program that you have the source code aviable for and has been made to work with GNU compiles and is autotooled and such are much more portable then Java. Then you have Python, Perl, Ruby, C# (mono), and others that are all high-level languages which are nice in their own paticular ways and don't rely on propriatory hunks of software.

The thing that saves Java actually is the fact that you're having a big push by the GNU folks to get Java compilers and such working with GCC and friends. They have GCJ stuff, support for classpath and all that coming up. Redhat + friends worked hard on getting Openoffice.org's Java code to the point were it would compile and run fine using the GNU java stuff and when using that it's actually faster (or seems that way to me) then when using Sun's propriatory runtime enviroment.

Wed Oct 11 23:59:09 2006: 2512   anonymous

Having given Derby a solid 2 weeks of attention I can honestly say, Derby sucks!. Even hsqldb is years ahead of Derby in terms of software stability. And if there is anything that you want stability from, it be your database.

Thu Jan 31 21:37:57 2008: 3557   anonymous

Here is my case:
1. IBM releases a Cloudscape source code (what version???) to Open Source Community;
2. Therefore, Derby is 100% syntaxis compatible with Cloudscape;
3. Derby subqueries DO NOT WORK (they take unreasonably long or die);
4. Nobody fixes the subqueries for years (I could find only bull*\*** discussions on the web);
5. Derby is highly graded in the books and on the web.
6. After you invest your time into Derby and hit the wall, where do you go ? IBM's Cloudscape is just a payment away.


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