The Future of the Borland Database Engine (BDE) and SQL Links

By: John Kaster

Abstract: The Borland RAD Team reveals plans for future database access in Delphi and C++Builder

SQL Database Server Access

In 2000, Borland introduced a new SQL driver architecture called "dbExpress." dbExpress is designed to deliver ultra high performance data access and simplify deployment and configuration of SQL drivers.

dbExpress is a pure SQL driver architecture and does not use BDE technology. dbExpress is also designed to be highly portable and drivers are being delivered both for Windows and Linux. This new driver architecture replaces the SQL data access functionality of the "older" BDE SQL Links combination, but does so without the runtime and deployment overhead of the BDE. (You can find more information on dbExpress here.)

At this time dbExpress (soon to be known as DataSnap Direct) is the recommended driver solution for SQL server database access in Delphi and C++Builder. We are deprecating the BDE SQL Links technology in 2002 and 2003. BDE SQL Links will ship in the next Delphi product release but will be marked 'deprecated'. This means that no further enhancements or improvements will be made to SQL Links in 2002 and they will no longer ship in Delphi and C++Builder after 2002.

dbExpress was specifically designed as a replacement technology for SQL Links, so we have kept migration and transition in mind from the beginning. The Delphi and C++Builder database application development architecture is designed to allow different data access technologies to plug in underneath the Dataset layer. This unique design abstracts the database drivers from the basic development components and source code such that new driver architectures can be developed without breaking the basic database application development APIs. This allows the same dataset-based programming model, data aware visual components, and DataSnap Middleware to function without change. Transitioning from SQL Links to dbExpress can be as straight forward as swapping the SQL Links drivers with dbExpress drivers. Some additional effort may be required to decouple an application from BDE specific features that a developer may have used in the SQL Links components. All of this means that the transition effort from SQL Links to dbExpress drivers is designed to be low impact and for most developers will require minimal source code changes.

SQL Links to dbExpress transition
SQL Links to dbExpress Transition

Data Access for Local Tables

The BDE itself, minus SQL Links, is primarily designed to support Paradox and dBase local tables. BDE local table support will continue to ship in future Windows Delphi and C++Builder releases for the foreseeable future. BDE local table support will be marked 'frozen' in new product releases in 2002. This means that we will continue to ship, test, and support existing BDE local table support but no new enhancements will be made to BDE. BDE for local tables will continue to be supported but it is now considered to be in its final form, and no additional features or bug fixes are planned. While it is not required, in order to benefit from the latest and greatest driver support, Borland recommends migrating dBase and Paradox tables to InterBase 6 Desktop editon. The DataPump utility included in Delphi and C++Builder makes this transition fast and simple. Once tables are converted to InterBase, developers have the option of using either InterBase Express (IBX) or dbExpress to access local InterBase tables.

Future RAD Database Driver Options
Future RAD Database Driver Options

We take great care in making new technology decisions, particularly when they may affect our customers' existing development projects. The plans for dbExpress, BDE, and SQL Links could not have been developed without extensive customer feedback. At Borland we appreciate the unique relationship we have with our customers and would like to express our gratitude for the development community's interest and participation in this effort.

RAD Team

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