Monday, December 11. 2006
A quick little note to mention the official release of Java 6. Okay, Dan, but why do you care?, you might ask. Good question, oh person-who-does-not-read-headlines.
The reason I care is that Sun chose to bundle Apache Derby in this release -- take a peek in the /db/ subdirectory of the Java SDK. Bundling Derby is going to mean a huge boost to the visibility and usage of the little Java database that could. It will be the de facto default database for Java developers; and if they haven't already used it, I suspect they're going to be pleasantly surprised at Derby's robustness and ability to perform. I was chatting with a few of the DSpace developers a week or so ago, and mentioned my hope (in all my spare time) to port the DSpace institutional repository to Derby as a possible default database. Right now, you see, the default database for DSpace is PostgreSQL, and unfortunately correctly configuring PostgreSQL seems to be the biggest barrier new users encounter while deploying DSpace. Switch to an embedded Derby database, and those headaches go away.
On the other hand, it seems that at least one of the DSpace developers have done a bit of experimenting with Derby in the past, as he claimed its performance suffered after 500,000 rows of data or so. Well, even if that is an insurmountable limit, that's a pretty good start for most institutional repositories -- and I suspect that the Derby developers would be highly motivated to show that Derby can, in fact, scale beyond that limit.
So, if you're a Java developer or dabbler, get on out there and give Derby + Java 6 a try. You're going to have a lot of company. Oh yeah, and if you need a good book on Derby...
Tuesday, November 14. 2006
A while back I mentioned on the DSpace-devel mailing list that I was interested in adapting DSpace to use embedded Apache Derby as the default database, rather than PostgreSQL, as a means of lowering the installation and configuration barriers involved with setting up access to an external database. I haven't had time yet to actually carry out my musing, but today I had the chance to set up the Archimède institutional repository on a test server -- and imagine my surprise when I saw a derby.log file sitting in the Archimède repository. It looks like someone else at Université Laval had the same idea as me much further back.
It's still on my horizon to adapt DSpace to Derby; seeing that it works well for Archimède confirms my belief that it's the right direction to go.
Tuesday, November 1. 2005
Just got back from a gruelling Paris - Amsterdam - Berlin - Paris - Toronto series of flights (don't ask) to wrap up my European October getaway and found this sitting on my doorstep.
Yes, sirs and madams, it is the official hard-bound 500+ page book known as Apache Derby: Off to the Races -- the book that gives you everything you need to know to develop applications with this scrupulously standards-compliant little database (and even do a little administration of this normally zero-administration beastie).
As you may already know, I wrote a good chunk of this book: chapters on PHP, Perl, Python, ODBC network communication, maintenance, and tuning. It was written during a time that was pretty gruelling for me, personally and professionally, and at times it felt like it would never end -- but now that I can hold the thing in my hands, it seems worthwhile. (I hope Lynn thinks so as well!) And the experience of working with Paul and George was something that I'm glad to have had as well; I've learned a lot from them.
So: if you don't have your own copy yet, it's time to buy a copy (yep, and if you use that link you'll even contribute an extra couple of pennies to my pocket).
Ah yes, I have found a glitch already. Actually I had half suspected this was coming, due to the last-minute change I requested to keep pace with the rapid pace of PHP Data Objects (PDO) development and evolution... a global change to using class constants in PDO (from PDO_ATTR_BLAH to PDO::ATTR_BLAH) happened about a day before our final proofs were being sent off to the printer. I asked for the corresponding global change, and, of course, the name of the PDO_ODBC module now reads PDO::ODBC. It's not the end of the world, but it's a tiny bit embarassing.
Monday, August 8. 2005
The presentations, handouts, and solutions for the "Deep Dive with Apache Derby: Perl, PHP, and Python" tutorial I gave at OSCON 2005 are finally online, including a couple of last-minute corrections:
The tutorial (my first solo 3.5 hour teaching session) went reasonably well, although my expectations of what comprises a tutorial apparently differs from the OSCON standard. I had structured the tutorial to be hands-on: after a brief lecture, the attendees were expected to perform exercises like installing Apache Derby, creating a database, setting up a connection through PHP, and the like. I was there to help them through the hurdles.
In contrast, most of the other tutorials were apparently three-hour lectures. I sat in on the end of Larry Rosen's *Law for Geeks*, which appeared to be a great discussion forum -- good format, important subject, great speaker. I followed that up with Monday morning's *Introduction to PostgreSQL*, which, at the one-hour mark, was going painfully slowly... so I slipped out at the break to do a last-minute run through of my own tutorial instead, and fixed a couple of bugs in the presentation materials just in time
My tutorial had about 20 attendees at the start, but I knew it was going to be trouble when less than half of them actually had laptops. Of the laptops, about three had Linux (hurrah -- that matched my tutorial assumptions), a couple had Windows (I had tested everything on Windows, so I knew I could help them through), and one had Mac OSX (completely untested and foreign to me). That ratio was actually rather kind to me; in the rest of the OSCON audience, it seemed about half of the attendees were carrying Mac laptops.
After the break, I was down to about seven hard-core attendees. The attrition didn't surprise or dismay me -- if I was stuck in a hands-on tutorial without being able to get my hands on anything, I would probably leave too. Now, I had asked people to buddy up, but apparently overcoming the fear of strangers was too much to ask (and I admittedly didn't break the ice enough). The other rather frustrating factor was the rather sluggish wireless connectivity and ibm.com's sadistic time-outs playing hell with the 200 MB download required for the DB2 Application Development Client. I ended up copying all of the software onto a USB drive and distributing it manually to the attendees. Despite the frustrations with technology, though, I really felt positive vibes from the audience -- and nobody laid a beating on me in a dark corner after the session
Updated 2005-08-11: Fixed the link to the presentations. Apparently not many people have tried to look at them, or didn't bother to tell me that they were not found
Updated 2007-11-20: Apparently my host dropped one of the libraries required by the PHP presentation system, so the link to my presentation stopped working. Fixed - thanks to Gordon Agress for bringing this to my attention.
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