Introduction to Databases for the Web: Pt 4
November 23, 1998
To tell you the truth, if I were to recommend a backend architecture for a web-based database interface, I would probably recommend the CGI architecture we just discussed.
In my opinion and experience, CGI is still the most stable, cross-platform, easy to maintain method for managing such a mission critical application. Alternative technologies like CORBA, Java, Active-X, and Cold Fusion are too difficult, too proprietary, or too buggy.
Nevertheless, no discussion of Web Databases would be complete without a discussion of JDBC.
What is JDBC
JDBC is Java's version of the DBI module in Perl 5. It provides a standard interface between you and the database server.
As with DBI, JDBC provides a standard API which you can use regardless of what Database is being used in the backend. Also, just as DBI is supported by a host of DBD (Database Dependent) modules to connect DBI to the multitude of proprietary systems, JDBC is supported by a large set of JDBC drivers.
Fortunately, as in the case of DBI, the JDBC interface and most of the JDBC drivers you will need are installed by default so you already have them if you have installed the JDK. Drivers that are not installed by default can be downloaded by going to www.javasoft.com/products/jdbc/index.html.
Limitations of JDBC
Of course, if you have been keeping up with the news, you will know that Java is still somewhat buggy and slow. However, the language promises to be with us as a basic tool for many years to come.
And though it still is a bit painful to use Java in an internet setting in which one cannot control the browsers, operating systems, or hardware specs of the users, it can still be worthwhile for you to learn and play with it.
At very least, JDBC is extremely useful for server-side application development in which you can control the environment to a much greater degree.
So to conclude this tutorial on web databases, we will take a walk through JDBC technology and present an actual Java GUI that uses JDBC to connect to the datasource we installed for the CGI section.