Database experiences in Python: Good or Bad?

David Rushby woodsplitter at rocketmail.com
Wed Aug 7 05:02:02 CEST 2002


On 6 Aug 2002 15:11:13 -0700, woodsplitter at rocketmail.com (David
Rushby) wrote:

> 1) If Firebird diverges from Interbase at the API (or other
> relevant) level, which will you be supporting, or both?

  When that happens, I'll concentrate on Firebird, though I'll accept
IB compatibility patches from third parties as long as they don't
disrupt the code that supports Firebird.  I won't go out of my way to
support Interbase; after all, Interbase > 6.01 is no longer a free
product, so why should I pay Borland to let me do driver development
for them?

> 2)
> >"except insofar as the future of Firebird itself is dubious."
> Most of us don't hear much about FB (I'm trying to do my part
> to spread the word), and don't know how solid the support is.

  IBPhoenix offers commercial support (
http://www.ibphoenix.com/ibp_services.html ); there are also mailing
lists/forums for free support (e.g.,
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ib-support/ ).  IB-Support appears to
have no shortage of activity.

> Is it known or suspected to be in danger of atrophy?

  No, but it is similar to SAPDB in that the open source community
doesn't exactly seem to be breaking down the door to contribute to--or
even recognize--the project.  In both cases, it's probably because:
a) the 133t h4x0r Sl4shd0t d00dz don't understand why MySQL is
deficient
b) PostgreSQL is a pretty good alternative on Unix

  For those of us who a) know that real relational databases offer
compelling features beyond those supported by MySQL, and b) must write
Windows-compatible software, neither MySQL nor PostgreSQL is currently
a viable option.  That leaves Firebird and SAPDB; I discussed my
impression of their relative strengths and weaknesses in my previous
post.

  Despite the apparent apathy of the mainstream open source community,
Firebird is still (months after the 1.0 release) being downloaded an
average of about 1100 times per day from Sourceforge, so clearly its
user pool is growing (
http://sourceforge.net/project/stats/index.php?report=last_30&group_id=9028
).  Even if we modestly assume that only three percent (figure pulled
out of thin air) of those who download it end up using it in the long
run, that's quite a few.  Many of them are probably former Interbase
users, though.

  Another factor to consider is this:  "The Firebird project is now
eighteen months old. We started with raw sources, without any
source-level documentation, without a test system or user
documentation, and without a working build system."  (from
http://www.ibphoenix.com/ibp_act_db.html )  The initial (but now
addressed) lack of these developer-vital features has probably been a
major retardant to community involvement.

  To see what's currently going on among the core developers, you can
check out their mailing list archives:
http://www.geocrawler.com/lists/3/SourceForge/5501/0/

> Can an OSS project die other than by user indifference/neglect?

  No, but an unmaintained OSS project could become a real pain for the
average programmer to use, since he'd have to compile it himself (not
customary for Windows programmers), and perhaps apply/create patches
for the OS and compiler combination of the day.

  I believe that Firebird will continue to be maintained and enhanced,
though it seems unlikely to progress as fast as PostgreSQL because of
PostgreSQL's greater community momentum.  MySQL has a lot of ground to
cover before it's even comparable; SAPDB is already superior to all of
its open source competitors in terms of raw feature set, and has
full-time developers paid by SAP to work on it.

  So Firebird's future prospects aren't perfect, but I am confident
enough to make my software dependent upon it.



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