July 2001

Technical Support Newsletter #2

Welcome to the second issue of the FrontBase newsletter. Thanks to the feedback from customers we have made a couple of alterations from the first edition. We have added a table of contents to the newsletter, plus implemented a shorter URL linking to this and several other support pages. If you have any additional feedback on this newsletter, or wish to contribute then please mail me at


Review of the Month
FrontBase Out and About
Drivers, Plugins and DAMs
Hot Topic
Customer Support
Tell us What You Are Doing
Technical Tip
Performance Tip
Technical Bulletin

Review of the Month

OS X/FrontBase/Studio Roadshow - Paris

This month saw the second OS X/FrontBase/Studio road show. These shows have been set up with Apple Europe and Raining Data to promote the complete integrated solution on MacOS X. Raining Data arranged the event via their Paris Sales and Marketing office. It gave developers the opportunity to hear about the respective products, and how they integrate with each other for a complete solution on Apple hardware.

The event was pretty well attended given the speed in which it was organized, with around 40 developers attending. Most of these people were seeing FrontBase for the first time. The presentation went very well, and the response from the audience, based on their questions, was very positive. We are happy to be able to continue running these events on an ongoing basis. We have already had a couple of inquires via support for future dates in London. If you are interested in attending future events then please mail us at We will then advise you as soon as new dates are arranged.

FrontBase Developer Connection

As we announced last month the FrontBase Developer Connection has been launched. To coincide with the official release of this package on the eve of MacWorld, we have a special promotion with Web Objects 5.0. If you join the FDC before the end of September, you can purchase Web Objects 5.0. for only $99.00. For more details on this promotion please mail

FrontBase Version 3.1

This month has seen continuing development work on the next major release of the FrontBase server engine. More information on this release, and the new features and enhancements it brings, will be made available over the coming weeks.

FrontBase Manager

Our tools division has been continuing with the development of FrontBase Manager. As we mentioned in last months newsletter, FrontBase Manager was premiered at the 'Birds of a Feather' sessions at WWDC. This tool has been written specifically for MacOS X and is a fully multi-threaded, multi-processor application. As we reported last month, you can expect to see this new tool during the current quarter. We will provide an update on the progress of this next month.

Training Course

We are currently in the process of compiling the first formal offering of a FrontBase developer training course. We will be running this through the QA process over the coming weeks. Once this process is complete, targeted for the beginning of September, we will launch the course to FrontBase developers. We will provide additional details on the scope and cost of this course in next months issue. In the meantime, if you have any questions on the course and its availability, then please feel free to mail us at

FrontBase out and about

Macworld Conference and Expo - New York, NY

At the time of writing Macworld New York is due to start. FrontBase are exhibiting at the event, so if you are in the neighborhood then please pop by and say hello. You can find us on booth 1936.

Apple Expo 2001 - Paris, France.

We will also be exhibiting at Apple Expo 2001, which is being held at Paris Expo in Hall 4. The event will take place on the 26th to 30th September, and you can find us on stand C33.

Drivers, Plug-ins and Dams


This month has seen the release of the final release version of the FrontBase Studio Dam. This can be downloaded from the download section of our web site, and is also featured in the 'Hot Topic' section of this newsletter.


FrontBase now supports development with Tool Command Language (Tcl). Tcl is a simple open source scripting language. It is an interpreted language with programming features, available across platforms running Mac OS, Unix, Windows. The current Tcl driver is version 0.95 which is available for download at the usual place. This is still work in progress and we will continue to add functions to it over the coming weeks and months.


A new version of the ODBC driver has been posted to the download section this month. This version is build The ODBC driver is for use on WinNT/2000 only.


The latest version of the PHP4 driver does not have a version number, but the current version is for php4.0.6 (latest release) and php4.0.7-dev (current development version).

WO5 Plugin

Version 1.3 of this plugin has been posted to the download section in the last few days. The WebObjects 5 plugin currently only supports MacOS X and the latest version of MacOS X server (10.0.4). We are currently working on a version for WinNT/2000. Version 1.3 fixes several minor bugs from previous versions of this plugin.

As always with all the new drivers, be sure to check the readme prior to installation for installation details.

Hot Topic

There is now a release package of our new Omnis Studio DAMs available for download from the FrontBase website. This package includes DAMs for MacOS Classic (8/9), MacOS X and Win32. Documentation in the form of the FrontBaseDAM.pdf is included with the download package. This contains instructions for installing and using the FrontBase DAM. Also included is a test library demonstrating how to code with the FrontBase DAM.

This means that it is now possible to use Omnis Studio 3.x in tandem with FrontBase to develop complete cross-platform solutions. The FrontBase DAM is a new-style, non-visual, multi-threaded DAM which benefits from all of the advantages this offers developers. You will be able to see this being demonstrated at MacWorld New York.

Customer Support

This month we have posted a new technical note dealing with Collations. You can find this in the technical note section of the support pages. We are also in the process of producing new FAQs on Replication, Whiskey Lists and Importing flat files into FrontBase and Firewall issues. Expect to see this documentation in the FAQ or Technical note section over the next four weeks.

This month has seen the start of a project that will lead to developers being able to check our bug and enhancement database. We have started production on the database, and aim to have a prototype of this system in place by the end of Q3. This system will be built upon to provide a searchable reference of all support cases for customers with valid support contracts. The bug checking section will remain available to all developers.

Tell Us What You're Doing

OpenTimeTable is a research project where we analyze railway timetables. The idea is to compare timetables to effective data as received by train control centers. There are approximately 1,200,000 records generated over two weeks which equates to a database-size is 126 MB.

We choose FrontBase for this project as it looked a very impressive and powerful databse that does not use significant system resources. The binaries take only 1.8 MB on my harddrive and FrontBase is fast. I haven't compared it to other systems (yet) but my impression is that FrontBase is very fast! The installation was very simple. Untar the packages and install them. FrontBase is available for MacOS X Server, Windows NT - as these are the platforms we are developing on we have one product for all platforms.

Markus Ullius, Institute of Transportation, Traffic, Highway & Railway Engineering (IVT)

This is a section that we would really appreciate your help with. We would like to know what you are doing with FrontBase, all the gory details. What Front end you are using, what operating system, why you choose FrontBase, how you implemented your development and what you think of the performance? Each month we will feature and reward the best case we get sent. Please mail your contributions to

Technical Tip

Syntax for Transaction setup

The isolation levels are covered in the FrontBase manual in chapter 5 - Administration under 'Understanding Transactions' and chapter 9 - 'FrontBase for the Developer' under 'Database Synchronisation Types'. But no syntax examples are given - so, very briefly, the SQL syntax is this:


Performance Tip

How to force the optimizer not to use a given index

Performance issues may be experienced with certain queries because the optimizer will automatically use an index associated with a given column used within the query. In the example below the implicit index associated with MTRADE t0 (MTrade.closed) causes a slowdown in the performance of the query. This is a real world example:

SELECT <trade columns>
WHERE t2.FUNDKEY = x'<key>' AND
AND T0.CLOSED >= TIMESTAMP '2001-05-01 00:00:00'

You could attain an increased performance of the above query by replacing the line:

AND T0.CLOSED >= TIMESTAMP '2001-05-01 00:00:00'



Now the optimizer will not use the given index in the query. The casting is enough to prevent the index MTrade.closed from being used. This principle can obviously be applied to much more complex queries and large data sets with which the benefits would be more evident.

Technical Bulletin

Over the past month we have had several reports of a problem with FBWebManager on MacOS X and X server. This problem occurs when you try to log on to the server via FBWebManager. When you type the correct URL; http://localhost/cgi-bin/FBWebManager, the following error message gets reported:

Text mismatch 0,7.

This seems to be caused by missing template files in the <Install_Path>/FrontBase/Templates folder. If you are still having a problem with this issue then please mail us at and we will forward you the required template files.