Monday, November 23, 1998


Editor's NOTE: This is a moldie oldie that I pulled from a text dump archive. None of the links will work anymore (or 99% won't) - but the names and companies have NOT changed.

So I'm in day 3 of a 5 day, $2,000 Oracle training class in Costa Mesa - between the packed classroom, complimentary expresso and deli-fresh bagels - I have an epiphany: FileMaker ROCKS!

Don't get me wrong - if you want to run an ATM, or you have a million or so records to process - a SQL based RDBMS (Relational DataBase Management System) is the way to go. For EVERYTHING else - just use FileMaker.

Take a class in one of these gigantic database systems - and you'll find out how much we take for granted in FileMaker. Like finds. Like WYSIWYG (mostly) reporting. Like data entry screens. Like the ability to assign elements different colors. Like ScriptMaker. Like defining calculation fields. Like... well... everything else!

For example - do a find in FileMaker for all customers in California or Florida with a balance due greater than $5000. The FileMaker way: Choose "Find" from the "Mode" menu - enter "CA" into the state field and "5000" in the "Balance Due" field, choose "Duplicate" from the "Mode" and change "CA" to "FL" - click continue. Done.

Now the Oracle way - first, go to the COMMAND LINE program (SQL*Plus), and enter the following:

select * from c.customers, i.invoices where sum(i.bal_due) > 5000 and (c.state = 'FL' or c.state = 'CA') and c.customers = i.cust_num

This is assuming you know what the fields are (you can use desc customers and desc invoices), and you have to know how to do an equijoin... etc., etc.

Now, TRAIN all your employees and customer's employees to do this kind of query. Even IF you do get the syntax correct - that's not the report - it just "prints to screen". If you want a report (god forbid!), there's another 3 day class on how to write SQL to get the report back. And, if you want a "Data Entry" layout - there are TWO more 4 day classes for the "easy-to-use" forms designer... OUCH!

Of course Oracle can run on just about anything - minis, Unix, NT, Linux, etc. (NOT Mac OS) and it can support 25,000 users (PLUS), and has the ability to manage up to 512 petrobyes (512,000 GIGAbytes)... BIG iron, BIG development costs and time, BIG databases. Which brings me to the point of this column:

The beautiful Oracle training center had Dell NT Workstations connected to a Sun server (in the Bay Area) via multiple T-1's and T-3's. We learned, then practiced our little examples, and the performance was VERY good. However, due to the fact that it was TWO people per computer (and my "training buddy" was less than cooperative) - I wanted to practice in my hotel room. I got back to the hotel, fired up NT Server 4.0, fired up Oracle Enterprise Edition, and was able to practice to my little heart's content. Did I mention that I don't have PC laptop? I do, however have an APPLE G3 PowerBook - and that's what I ran Oracle and NT Server on! Yep - Virtual PC 2.01 does it again. You can bet that lugging ONE computer is THE way to go. I'm planning on loading Linux and BeOS as well...

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