InterBase at BorCon 2001

By: Tom Gardner

Abstract: A synopsis of BorCon 2001 from an InterBase perspective

The Borland Conference is one of the highlights of my work year. I get to get out my cube and immerse myself in Borland technology. Even though I get to immerse myself in Borland technology every day, the Conference is different; there are great sessions and speakers, great conversation, and I get to stay up later than usual. This year's Conference in Long Beach was the fourth Conference that I've attended. The theme of this year's Conference was "Implementing E-Business Applications". I'm coining my theme for this year's Conference as "Implementing InterBase-Business", as my focus was the InterBase Product Track which featured twenty-one sessions.

The Conference officially started on Sunday evening but during the day on Saturday and Sunday there were some excellent preconference tutorials. These tutorials are perfect for developers who want entry level, intermediate, and advanced training; they are well worth the extra registration fee. The InterBase track had three great tutorials.

Saturday afternoon Vince Duggan of Replicant Technologies presented an intermediate tutorial about database replication. Vince began by covering the theory of replication, defining replication, why it is useful, database design and implementation issues, and common problems associated with replication. Then Vince delved into IBReplicator, the replication solution for InterBase. His tutorial covered all the tools provided with IBReplicator, and covered many replication tasks in detail such as bi-directional replication, replication of sub-sets of data, complex 'hub-and-spoke,' and 'many-to-many' replication environments.

Vince's paper Step by Step IBReplicator Tutorial from his session can be found our Borland Community web site. Vince also presented at the Borland Conference in 2000. His InterBase Replication Fundamentals and InterBase Replication Internals papers are posted on our Community web site too.

Early Sunday morning Robert Schieck of MER Systems, presented Part I of his Introduction to InterBase tutorial. This tutorial featured the new 473 page courseware manual and 187 page lab manual for InterBase 6. Take a look at the manual's table of contents to see what's covered. Stayed tuned for an upcoming InterBase certification program utilizing the new courseware. Rob Schieck commented that this edition of the courseware was so new he just saw the printed version the day before. No one thought for a second that he was unfamiliar with any of the topics. The first half of his presentation (fueled by no less than 5 Diet Cokes) covered: an introduction to InterBase; using IBConsole; using InterBase command-line utilities; and creating and modifying databases, datatypes, domains, and tables.

After lunch Rob's pace (or Diet Coke consumption) never slowed down and he went on to explain: working with indexes; inserting, updating, and deleting data; extracting data; understanding more about SELECT; and working with views. He also discussed database security, stored procedures, generators and triggers, exceptions and exception handling, and transactions and versioning.

Rob is not one to follow the book. Rob's experience and enthusiasm really complemented his presentation as he continually interspersed his talk with multiple real life examples. I believe someone recorded 9 empty Diet Coke cans up on the stage at the end of 8 hours of talking!

Sunday evening was the official start of BorCon 2001. The opening keynote began with the theme from Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" (Strauss's Thus Sprach Zarathustra) thundering throughout the convention hall. The "Dawn of Man" scene from the movie was played out on stage with lights shining on large letters forming the word Inprise. Then one of man's distant ape ancestors comes out to investigate the letters and as the music reaches a crescendo the ape destroys the letters with a bone and the lights come up to display Borland. The ape is none other than David I. After David extricated himself from the ape costume (which took some work), the 2001 theme continued with the DALE 9000 greeting Dave... I thought the presentation was entertaining; all the openings to Borland Conferences are spectacles to remember.

I think the highlight of the opening keynote was the showcase web application, the Movi-E-tailer e-commerce site built using Delphi, Kylix, JBuilder, AppServer, AppCenter, C++Builder and InterBase. Many InterBase session attendees commented on how pleased they were to see InterBase so prominently featured. Jon Arthur, the Director of InterBase, did a wonderful job of keeping to the script.


After the opening keynote was the "Welcome Reception" outside in the park. There was food, music, libations, and the reception featured the Borland Button Bash. Many attendees had been swapping buttons all day for the chance to win prizes. All day I saw many interesting phrases that attendees had put together. Unfortunately I missed the reception because I had to work. At the conference I'm one of those guys in a red shirt with the radio in my ear. From 6:00 am to 10:00 pm it's: (buzz/static) Christine for David I, (buzz/static) Go for David I, (buzz/static) Does anyone have a 20 on Dale, (buzz/static) room 203 is too cold, (buzz/static) room 204 is too hot, (buzz/static)...

Monday was a busy day for InterBase. At 8:00 am the Chief Architect of InterBase, Charlie Caro started out the InterBase track with his presentation "Extending SQL Functionality in InterBase". Charlie displayed his 13 years of InterBase experience as this was a heavyweight session that dug into the core of the InterBase engine with how to add additional SQL functions and internal UDFs to your database. Check out Charlie's paper for the details.

The next InterBase section was "InterBase Connectivity Overview" by Nick Gorham of EasySoft Ltd. EasySoft wrote the ODBC driver for InterBase 6. Nick's session paper is available on the Borland InterBase Community web site. This was the first Borland Conference that Nick has attended. He flew in from the UK and commented that meeting the InterBase team and talking with conference attendees was one of the best parts of the conference for him. He thought that featuring InterBase as the database in the opening keynote showcase web application was really positive, especially when the VP of the Java business unit, Tony de la Lama specifically mentioned InterBase as the database.

Monday's keynote before lunch featured Nokia's Lee Wright. I only got to see the first five minutes of his presentation as my radio squelched, (crackle/static)Cathie for Tom; back to work.

After lunch Bill Todd from The Database Group, Inc. presented "InterBase for Desktop Database Users". Bill is co-author of four database programming books and over 80 articles. He is a member of TeamB. You can always find Bill providing technical support on the Borland Internet news groups. He is a frequent speaker at Borland Developer Conferences. You'll find many of Bill's past conference papers in the White Papers section of the Borland Community web site.

Next was the InterBase Product Address. Strauss's Thus Sprach Zarathustra should have been playing as it would have been perfect and would have kept with the theme. Jon Arthur the Director of InterBase along with Charlie Caro chronicled the current and future direction of InterBase.

Jon expressed how the InterBase business unit was dedicated to releasing certified new versions of the product at regular intervals. He also expressed the unit's interest in communicating with customers and training the sales force. He briefly spoke about InterBase and open source and promised to address it thoroughly later in his Open Source session. He noted that in the future Borland would be offering training and certification for InterBase. Rob Schieck's use of the new InterBase 6 courseware was a step in this direction.

Charlie Caro discussed the areas where additions and improvements to the product are being concentrated. This included tighter integration with Borland tools, better performance, scalability with SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) support, reporting of database and user activity, security, and reliability. It was great to listen to the new features on the drawing board. This is just one of many reasons why attending the Conference is valuable.

InterBase R&D engineer Sriram Balasubramanian who wrote the InterBase portion of the Movi-E-tailer e-commerce site spoke about InterBase's features. He highlighted the use of running InterBase on multiple platforms and the use of IBReplicator.

Craig Stuntz another member of Borland's prized TeamB thought that talking with Jon Arthur, Charlie Caro, etc. was one of the best parts of the InterBase sessions. Craig took excellent notes and he has his own version of "InterBase at BorCon 2001".

Immediately following the InterBase Product Address was the panel discussion "Meet the InterBase Team". The panel included Jon Arthur, Charlie Caro, Sriram Balasubramanian, Aaron Ruddick, Quinn Wildman, Steve Axtell, and myself along with TeamB members Jeff Overcash, Robert Schieck, and Craig Stuntz. Jeff Overcash noted that Borland is developing a Bug Tracking application with InterBase as the database. You'll see more about this on the Community site in the future. Too bad the other members of the InterBase team back in Scotts Valley and worldwide couldn't have joined us; someone has to work while we're at the Conference.

It was great to listen and talk to the InterBase community members and Borland Conference attendees. Jon Arthur took detailed notes of the attendees comments and suggestions. Borland's President and CEO Dale Fuller attended this session.

Monday's evening InterBase sessions were "InterBase Open Source Community Development, and Building the Source" hosted by Jon Arthur and Sriram Balasubramanian, and InterBase 6 Certification and Multi-Platform Test Automation" with InterBase QA engineer Aaron Ruddick.

The Open Source session was for Open Source developers to better understand the Borland Open Source initiative. Discussed was the "how to" for adding patches to the Source Forge patch utility, the IPL license, working with the Borland development team, and how to submit your code and waiver so Borland can use your patches in the certified version of the shipping product. Sriram walked through the build process of how to bring down the source and work with the Linux version of InterBase from the CVS tree at Source Forge. I snuck out out for a few minutes to catch part of Mark Miller's "Fun with Delphi" session. It was a phenomenal presentation. His parody of "The Borlands" was hilarious.

Aaron's talk dicussed the rigorous testing and InterBase QA strategy has developed and passed on for over 15 years. He provided an in depth look at using TCS, the InterBase Test Control System. His talk's accompanying session paper is posted on the Borland InterBase Community web site. Being late, and after a long day of sessions, the other members of the InterBase team provided some paltry heckling towards the end of Aaron's presentation when he opened VI and displayed his typing skills.

After 10:15 pm we all adjourned to the Rock Bottom Brewery for some more in-depth InterBase and other technical discussions. As David I said, "You may not get much sleep this week, but your head will spin with new ideas and your brain will overflow with great technology."

Tuesday morning I woke and decided that before I headed to the Conference I would venture down Long Beach's Pine street (the happening spot) for a good cup of coffee. In the local Starbucks I sat and talked with Borland's AppServer Director of Product Management Ralf Dossmann, and Daniel Magin of Borland Germany. In addition to all the sessions, keynotes and receptions the Conference provides additional opportunities to meet and discuss Borland technology with others.

Although I enjoyed the coffee and conversation I was disappointed I missed Bill Todd's morning session, "Building InterBase Applications with ClientDataSet and IBExpress". His talk covered the advantages of using ClientDataSets with the InterBase Express components to build two-tier client/server database applications. Along with managing transactions more effectively, reducing network traffic, reducing server load, etc. Luckily he always provides a paper for his sessions.

The cup of coffee definitely helped my central nervous system as I wanted to be ready for David Robinson author of the InterBase Installation Info website. talk on "InterBase Installation and Deployment Options". David is a valuable InterBase Community member as you'll see his frequent postings in the newsgroups and he has spoken at past Borland Conferences. David discussed the various options available for installing InterBase, including using the Installation API, TIBInstall, the Borland Setup.exe package, and various other installation packages. He covered everything about how to create your own installation scripts using Wise, InstallShield®, MSI, etc. You can review his session paper on our Borland InterBase Community web site.

Luckily before lunch I was able to attend Guy Kawasaki's keynote "Success in the Internet New Economy", based on his book "Rules for Revolutionaries" which was included in Conference attendees bags. His talk was entertaining and it really got me thinking. I attribute part of the reason why I'm writing this article to Guy's statement that, "You need to eat like a bird, and poop like an elephant." Basically the goal is to take in (eat) as much information as possible and then dispense (poop) that information.

After lunch it was on to Bill Todd's third session, "InterBase Stored Procedures and Triggers". I was amazed when I looked at the schedule and saw that Bill still had one more talk to present! Bill thoroughly covered the advantages of, when to use, creating, using, modifying, calling, etc., stored procedures. He then went on to cover triggers.

The afternoon InterBase sessions included another talk by Rob Schieck on "Building a Database-driven Dynamic Web Site Using JBuilder and InterBase", and Craig Stuntz's "Building UDF Libraries". Of course Rob used real life examples. Craig covered the dos and don'ts, returning strings, UDFs with dates, troubleshooting UDFs and much more.

Tuesday evening's Special Event was only a short walk along the yacht harbor from the convention center. In one of the berths in the harbor was the Attessa. The boat looked like it was straight out of a James Bond movie. The Special Event was sponsored by Sun Microsystems at the Aquarium of the Pacific. It was a nice evening of food and refreshments. The jellyfish exhibit was awesome.

EARLY Wednesday morning Jason Wharton presented a Birds of a Feather session. These sessions are for those interested meeting like-minded developers for an informal technical discussion. Jason's talk was "InterBase Objects: Meet the Maker". He displayed the latest in InterBase Objects v. 4.0.

At 8:00 am Rob Schieck gave his fourth InterBase session. Rob's talk and accompanying paper covered "Maximizing Performance for Delphi/C++Builder/InterBase Applications". You would have thought that we were in Hollywood the way Rob circled throughout the completely filled room like a game show host asking questions and handing out Borland bucks for those with the correct answer. Talk about maximizing performance; maybe if I started drinking Diet Cokes like Rob does I could be half as productive as him.

Bill Todd presented his fourth InterBase session that morning covering "Using the InterBase Express Administration Components". If you haven't yet you should download the IBX Components and review Bill's paper. InterBase Express (IBX) is a set of data access components that provide a means of building applications with Kylix, Delphi, and C++Builder which can access, administer, monitor, and run the InterBase Services on InterBase databases.

The Opening Keynote gave attendees a peek at the showcase web application, the Movi-E-tailer e-commerce site. Wednesday's Technology Keynote gave an in-depth look at the application, featuring the engineers responsible for the development of the application to talk about their contribution. During the Conference attendees kept commenting on how pleased they were to see InterBase featured with the other Borland products. Sriram InterBase R&D engineer extraordinaire did a brilliant performance. Now everyone knows why we call him the Energizer Bunny; he keeps going, and going...

Jeff Overcash presented "InterBaseExpress: Tips and Tricks". Jeff a TeamB member is responsible for developing the InterBase Express components (available for Delphi, C++Builder, and Kylix) for Borland, along with helping with InterBase's IBConsole. Jeff covered some of the issues involved in migrating a BDE InterBase application over to InterBase Express (IBX) to allow your data access to be cross-platform with Linux. In addition he explained what components are appropriate for certain operations and how do you tune IBX on the client-side for efficient operations, plus more. Who said Jeff was scared to talk in front of a crowd.

Craig Stuntz finished off the InterBase sessions with his "Third-party Tools Overview". Here is a list of the tools Craig covered:

Windows-based administration tools Web-based administration tools CASE Tools Full text search utilities Replicators and Data pumps Migration tools Miscellaneous utilities
IBAccess IBaseAdmin CASE Studio FastTextSearch/IB IBReplicator IB-Updata IB Log Manager
IBAdmin   DeZign Rubicon InterBase DataPump MSSQL And Access To InterBase Migration Wizard InterBase Encryption Proxy
IB Expert   ERwin   Replication Master Version Control Master InterBase Heartbeat
IB_WISQL   IBAdmin       SQL Debugger
InterBase Workbench   Visio Professional or Enterprise       Upscene Alias Resolver
Marathon   xCase        

Craig and Jon announced that Craig is putting together a 3rd Party Tools Companion CD that will be available in upcoming version of InterBase.

"With the BorCon 2001 winding to a close many headed to the Closing Keynote hoping that one of their Borland Bucks would be chosen for a chance to win prizes. David I presented an ingenious method of randomizing and delivering the Borland Bucks to Dale. Luckily Dale's quick reflexes and astute stage placement prevented him from getting pegged with reams of Borland Bucks crashing to the stage from a catwalk above.

David I announced that the next BorCon will be May 18—22 in Anaheim, California. I'll finish with quoting U.S. swimmer Matt Biondi after he won the 100 freestyle at the Seoul Olympics, and tells NBC, "I'm going to Disneyland,"

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