October 2001

Technical Support Newsletter #5

Welcome to the fifth issue of the FrontBase newsletter. If you have any additional feedback on this newsletter, or wish to contribute then please mail us at


Review of the Month
FrontBase Out and About
Drivers, Plugins and DAMs
Hot Topic
Customer Support
Tell us what you're doing
Technical Tip
Technical Tip #2
Technical Bulletin

Review of the Month

FrontBase 3.3 released

This month has seen the FrontBase 3.3 release incorporating many features and advantages over previous versions. While many new features have been added to this release, the most impressive is clearly the increased performance. The new release boasts a 100% improvement in overall performance, and that is no mean feat given FrontBase's strict adherence to data integrity and disk synchronization rules. A new FrontBaseManager is also included in the latest distribution of which details can be found in the new on-line release notes. FrontBase 3.3 is currently available on the following platforms: Windows (NT), Unix (Solaris, FreeBSD), Linux (RedHat, YellowDog, Debian, Mandrake Linux) and on Mac OS X.

As usual, the latest release is freely available via our download page and licenses can be obtained for a free evaluation or deployment via our online license application service.

FrontBase out and about

EurOmnis2001 conference

FrontBase will be represented at the EurOmnis2001 conference in Valkenburg by Raymond Treß of a & l informations verarbeitung GmbH -

Raymond is the FrontBase distributor for German-speaking countries and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in both the FrontBase and Omnis arenas respectively.

The 'FrontBase Database' session takes place on Thursday Nov 8th - the second session of the evening, and is sure to be an interesting one for Omnis developers seeking alternative backends or simply investigating the latest advantages of using the FrontBase server.

The EurOmnis2001 conference will be held from November 5 till November 10, again at Parkhotel Rooding in Valkenburg, just a few kilometres from Maastricht, the Netherlands. For more information about the conference please see

Drivers, Plugins and Dams


The following problem has recently been reported to us:

"Some of the records in a database updated via ODBC contain data where periods have been replaced by quotation mark-period-quotation mark"


This is a known problem with the ODBC driver version We have recently updated our web site with the latest driver where this problem is fixed.

WO5 Plugin

We now have a WebObjects 5 plugin for WinNT/2000 which is available as part of the FrontBase 3.3 distribution for WinNT/2000. Currently there is a separate installer file which ships with the package.

We have also released a new WO5 plugin for MacOS X, which is installed as part of the FrontBase 3.3 installation but is also available separately from our 'Download' page. There are some JDBC changes and the following plugin-specific fix:

EOPlugIn: * SQL for table creation was incorrect when entities were parents for inherited entities.

JDBC Driver

A new build of the JDBC driver (v.1.20) has also been uploaded this month. The following fixes have been applied:

* StringTokenizer did not work on Win2K because of a problem with the string parsing mechanism.

* ResultSet.getRow() always returned 0.

* There was a bug in row indexing of scrollable result sets.


We will soon be releasing a new REALBasic plugin with significant enhancements over previous versions. The plugin has been updated to take advantage of a new record locking facility and will be released in conjunction with the next update to the server. Note: the version on the website, 1.4, is the last version that won't require FrontBase 3.x.


A new PERL driver 1.1 has been posted this month. The source now works with newer FBCAccess builds and a fix to remove "begin;" statements issued by the driver has been applied. SQL 92 starts transactions implicitly. "begin" starts a code block, so if you ran the PERL driver with auto-commit off, problems would occur.

Hot Topic

Instant Versioning

Instant Versioning was conceived to meet the real world requirement of virtually zero downtime in a system serving e-commerce transactions. Existing database systems suffer a common problem when a database crash occurs. The system has to be rebuilt and re-indexed at the cost of many hours or typically days of very expensive downtime during which no e-commerce can occur. FrontBase's "Instant Versioning" software simply does not require any rebuilding after a crash, so the system is back up and available in seconds. Instant Versioning is such a unique concept it has been patented.

Customer Support

As part of our continuing efforts to provide developers with up-to-date information and helpful tips we have posted another FAQ dealing specifically with using FrontBase and WebObjects 5. It can be found at

If you have suggestions for future FAQs or Technical Tips please mail us at

Tell us what you're doing

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

Softmagic, Inc. - - specializes in developing publishing solutions using state-of-the-art technology including FrontBase. The company was founded in New York, in 1987, before relocating to Seoul, Korea. Since its inception, Softmagic has played a key role in transforming the Korean publishing industry and brought magazine publishing to Mac OS X. Most recently, Softmagic have introduced a powerful new solution called Project-M for magazine publishers.

Project-M is a publishing solution suite that addresses the publishing process in its entirety from authoring, page layout, and delivery across multiple media. It consists of a set of applications and well-defined processes that support the collaborative activities of writers, editors, designers, and system administrators. Based on open industry standards such as PDF, TCP/IP, Unicode, SQL DB and XML, Project-M easily adapts to changing environments. Project-M consists of MediaPlan, SendStory, eDesk, M, and BookAssembler. Softmagic are utilizing FrontBase as an integral part of the solution:

"Our goal is to have FrontBase integrated into Project-M seamlessly so that users will not be psychologically burdened over system integration, yet enjoy all the benefits of DB based workflow."

Lewis J. Oh, Director of Tech Sales, Softmagic, Inc.

The release of SendStory is now available for download and has recently been updated to version 1.0.4. SendStory promises to deliver XML in the traditional Apple fashion, intuitive and user-friendly. The collaboration among writers and editors in different languages and regions is made possible for both offline and online publishing.

SendStory communicates with Apple Computer's online file sharing facility, iDisk and any TCP/IP networked server to send and receive the structured XML story that conforms to the industry standard DTDs or to the customized DTDs designed with SendStory. Its unique way of synchronizing the document structures of the multilingual documents makes an easy choice for international company dealing with the documents in many languages. It also converts XML to HTML based on the pre-defined style mapping mechanism, making it an ideal tool for writing Apple Help files and Web page. A structured XML story created with SendStory can be interfaced to a content management system for re-purposing of the data.

SendStory 1.0.4 is available for downloading from:

Technical Tip

The Show command

The SHOW command, among others, is outlined in the sql92 help file and is accessible from the sql92 command line via 'help;' Some examples of what the SHOW command offers in FrontBase are detailed below:

SHOW USAGE; Reports usage against the database.

SHOW DATABASES [ON|HOST <host-name>]; This reports all databases on the server, their status and any invocation options.

SHOW DATABASE [FULL]; Returns, for example, the following information.


SHOW PLAN = query plan setting

SHOW SCHEMA <schema-name>; Details the schema specified.

SHOW TABLE <table-name>; Details the table specified.

SHOW VIEW <view-name>; Details the view specified.

SHOW CONNECTIONS; Show all the connections that have been established i.e. sessions in progress.


Technical Tip #2

Query Plan Information

Did you know that it is possible to have query plan information in FrontBaseManager?

The feature is enabled by executing: SET DESCRIBE SELECT TRUE | FALSE;


if you right-click (or <control>-click for those with only one button mice) in the text area on the "SQL Interpreter" pane then you should get a contextual menu. In that menu, under "Advanced" will be a menu item for "Enable Query Plan Generation".

Query plan information is displayed in a separate pane when you issue your selects from the SQL Interpreter.

Technical Bulletin

Upgrading to the latest version

Compatibility with earlier versions of FrontBase:

The database files used by FrontBase 3.x are not compatible with the database files used by FrontBase 2.x and earlier. If you upgrade from FrontBase 2.x to FrontBase 3.x you must export the content of the database to flat ascii files before you upgrade, and load the flat files into FrontBase 3.x after you have installed 3.x.

To export the database myDB database use the following SQL statement:


then install FrontBase 3.x, create a new myDB database, connect to the database as the _SYSTEM user and execute the file:


You can execute the file either by the command line tool sql92 (script <ull path name>;) or by the FrontBaseManager's SQL Interpreter Pane (use the "Execute SQL" button).

Password issues

Passwords were not always being encoded correctly by versions of FrontBaseManager prior to 3.2c. This was preventing some users from connecting to databases whose passwords had been set via a mechanism other than FrontBaseManager. FrontBaseManager 3.2c fixes this problem. If you have set or changed any passwords with versions of FrontBaseManager prior to 3.2c (This does not include FBManager, FBWebManager and sql92) you will need to clear out those passwords before upgrading to FrontBaseManager 3.2c and then reset them after the upgrade.


We have recently included a new expression parser which allows for generalized boolean expressions in FrontBase, e.g. VALUES FALSE = FALSE;, which returns TRUE (one row and one column).

Please mail us at if you need any assistance with this or any other issue.