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By: Andrew Merkulov
Abstract: Having Firebird and Interbase databases as the examples, there are some tips that can help choosing the access provider.
I often hear that some people don't understand the differences between ODBC and OLE DB technologies. Sometimes they consider these technologies to be the same. In this very article we'll compare them.
Having Firebird and Interbase databases as the examples, there are some tips that can help choosing the access provider.
Both technologies are designed by Microsoft. Their goal is to isolate the client from data source realisation features providing him with standard Access Interface.
The idea is that it's easier for developers to realise one standard interface than to support multiple databases with different API.
ODBC - Open Database Connectivity. ODBC drivers were the Microsoft first attempt to provide a standard of data accessing. They were the ODBC API realisation with C. ODBC API calls are sent to the definite database API.
Technology's advantage - is the Cross Platform features. UnixODBC development lets ODBC drivers' use on Unix platform.
Windows keeps all the information about data sources and ODBC drivers in its registry. Database connection comes from the registered DSN (Data Source Name), Thus, before using the data source should be registered on user's computer.
It is possible to do it via Data Source Administration (Control Panel-Administration-ODBC Data Sources).
OLE DB (or OLEDB) - Object Linking and Embedding, Database. OLE DB technology was created after ODBC and became the Microsoft Corporation idea about standard Access Interfaces.
OLE DB providers may work not only with relational database but with any other information that can be a table. For example: OLE DB provider for Catalogue Services or Jet OLE DB provider which lets to extract data from Excel and Outlook.
For connecting via OLE DB, the registration of data source in the system is not required (with ODBC it is obligatory). All the information is saved either in udl-files or is written in connection string.
For editing the OLE DB udl-connection Data Link is used. It supports the advanced data provider's settings, including additional pages, about which it is informed by chosen OLE DB provider, into its interface.
To run Data Link, you should create the empty udl-file and run it.
SQL development made its realisations in different databases incompatible. ODBC Escape Sequences were offered to solve this problem. They let writing SQL queries, which were compatible with the majority of databases.
There is ODBC Escape Sequences support in many databases. For Firebird and Interbase the ODBC Driver Escape Sequences Technology is available via IBProvider - OLE DB Provider for Firebird and Interbase.
DAO - Data Access Objects. The technology let working with databases via ODBC drivers, its development ended in 2001.
ADO - ActiveX Data Objects It's very popular among Windows applications developers as it has easier high-level interface in comparison with OLE DB.
ADO Components are well projected and seem to be more perfect than the newer technology ADO.NET in many ways. For example, there is no Fetch Backwards property for cursors, no standard way to read and write OLE DB features, no parallel transactions' support in one connection realised.
ADO is supported by:
ADO and DAO are included in MDAC - Microsoft Data Access Components.
Microsoft Office resources support the data loading via either OLE DB and ODBC. Valuable use of all the Office Data Control resources depends on definite OLE DB providers and ODBC drivers' possibilities.
There is such a support for Firebird and InterBase users.
More and more developers prefer .Net Framework for their new projects. There are certain .Net Providers for OLE DB and ODBC in ADO.Net:
The article given here tells how to work with Firebird in .Net via OLE DB .Net Data Provider..
SQL Server lets connecting to other Database servers including Firebird and InterBase from Transact SQL via Linked Server.
Linked Server works only with OLE DB Providers and doesn't support ODBC drivers.
To use ODBS driver you need to connect the additional layer-OLE DB Provider for ODBC drivers and to make the connection like: Firebird/Interbase -> ODBC -> OLEDB ->MS SQL Linked Server. This example is not very effective and now it is the temporary solution.
With the time Microsoft neglects ODBC Support offering OLE DB and ADO.NET Providers in exchange.
There are three Business Intelligence Resources in SQL Server:
They let working with OLE DB and .Net Providers but don't have the valuable ODBC support.
Gemini InterBase/Firebird ODBC Driver- project is not supported since March, 2005
ODBC Easysoft drivers spread separately for Firebird and InterBase:
Easysoft ODBC-InterBase Driver - declared about Interbase 6. IB 6.5 IB 7 and IB 7.5 support
Easysoft ODBC-Firebird Driver - declared about Firebird 1 and FB 1.5 support
There is a large list of ODBC drivers but no information about drivers' last update for Firebird and InterBase. If to look at the numbers of supported versions, the changes were long ago.
IBProvider Professional Edition supports 14 types of Firebird and InterBase servers, including??? Interbase 2007 and Firebird 2.1, and automatically is set to work with each of them. It independently defines the keywords, connects optimizing algorithms, set of metadata, SQL and ODBC parser, etc.
There are three OLE DB providers in decision complex. Here you may read detailed information about each of them.
The direct link to download IBProvider Professional Edition.
To my mind, the choice of access technology for Firebird and InterBase is evident, but every month the visitors of search systems are looking for magical ODBC Firebird and ODBC Interbase for making new applications.
Meanwhile the choice of Database Access Provider as the choice of Database itself is the application basis, which influences on efficiency, development rate, and even on the project success.
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