Database Connectivity

Alex Martelli aleaxit at
Tue Oct 12 09:59:45 CEST 2004

Cliff Wells <clifford.wells at> wrote:
> But the question remains: why use a "watered down" version of a
> database, or pay for an "industrial-strength" version of it when there
> are free alternatives that actually surpass both versions?

To play devil's advocate: there could (in theory) be sound reasons, such
as different projected costs for support, migration, and the like.  I do
not think this kind of thing is ever a good reason to choose inferior
technology, such as the Jet engine -- I believe people who have been
doing new development based on Jet, ever since MS made it quite clear
they didn't like it any more (4-5 years ago at least), have been myopic.
But if a technology is sound (and MSDE/SQL Server appears to be), the
trade-offs may be different.

> > like everything they do either, but to pay my salary, the company I work for
> > has to make money, not live on indignant or righteous attitudes.  I use
> > whatever works best for the particular customer I have to work with.
> Reasonable attitude.  Despite being a Linux afficianado, I still
> recommend Windows for most user's desktops, simply because there isn't

Mac OS X is actually quite superior, though I found out less than a year
ago, and "by accident" -- just because I bought an iBook 12", as the
truly-portable laptop with the best price/performance ratio, intending
to install Linux on it, then discovered that Darwin/OSX is better.

These days, for most users' desktops, I recommend a Mac (there are of
course some exceptions, e.g. if they absolutely need a specific
application that just doesn't run there) -- though Linux on the desktop
is generally quite usable these days (_laptops_ are another story... Mac
is really the only way to go;-).

> enough payoff to justify the learning curve for most people were they to
> switch.  Linux has major advantages over Windows in many areas, but the
> desktop currently isn't one of them.

It's getting there (though laptops are farther behind).

> >  If MS
> > has a product that does what I need it to, I'll use it.  If Python is a
> > better way to do things, I'll use it, if QBasic, if Delphi, if...
> You'll use QBasic?  And where will you get it from?  I point this out
> simply to highlight your apparent blindness to Microsoft's abandonment
> of actively used tools (which you cite later as a reason to prefer MS
> over open source projects).

Yes, this IS a crucial issue.  If an open-source project is "abandoned",
your own projects based on it are _not_ dead or forced to migrate: you
have the option of continuing to use the existing project, taking it up
to develop it further, or at an intermediate level doing some minimal
maintenance on it, etc.  If a piece of commercial software is
*abandoned*, OTOH, your own projects based on it are in deep trouble;
you _are_ forced to migrate, or try to -- beause you cannot buy the
software and new licenses for it any more.

> despite having the same name.  You yourself have mentioned at least two
> MS technologies that either no longer exist or are being phased out
> (QBasic and JET). Now, unlike you, I'm going to be fair and acknowledge
> that this is simply the nature of software.  Microsoft, and its open
> source competitors, do well to occasionally abandon existing platforms
> as new technologies, architectures, and plain old hindsight dictate.

Yes, but if you've done value-added development on top of old plaftorms,
you're in much better shape, with many more options, when those
platforms are open, and generally very badly placed when those platforms
are commercial.

> > Sorry about the long rant, but so much mis-information has been passed along
> > in this thread and in  past threads, mainly due to so much MS hatred,
> > deserved or not, that  I felt I had to speak up.  
> Well, certainly opinions of MS are just that.  But all else aside,
> Microsoft made my job miserable for enough years with shifting API's,
> buggy software, inflexible/limited/incompatible tools that I feel quite
> justified in my contempt for them.  And that's before considering their
> company from any ethical standpoint.

Fair enough.  I've delved into MS stuff for enough years to agree with
you on these points.  Once in a while something worthwhile does come out
of Redmond, but it appears to be the exception rather than the rule.


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