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Gembase Platform Independence.

History of Gembase.

Gembase was originally developed by a U.K. company called Pioneer. For reliability, they chose to develop Gembase on Digital's VAX/VMS platform, and using the Digital RDB database engine. Gembase was developed as the successor to their older product, USERBASE.

Now, Gembase is provided by Ross Systems Inc. Ross have taken Gembase from its limited market, and made Gembase a more open product. Ross are among the largest users of Gembase, having developed their Renaissance CS product range in Gembase. (Renaissance CS, frequently shortened to RenCS, is an E.R.P. - Enterprise Resource Planning - package). So, as users of Gembase, Ross have had an interest in making it available on as many platforms as possible - this allows their other products to also have a wider market.

Database Independence.

As originally produced, Gembase was stuck on VAX/VMS or OpenVMS, Gembase had been developed in C, so porting the code wouldn't be that difficult. But, RDB wasn't available on other platforms. How Gembase needed to change, was in how it interacted with the supporting database engine. Once this was achieved, Gembase could move to different hardware platforms. Now, Gembase is available with Oracle, Sybase, and most recently, Microsoft's SQL server. On the VAX/VMS platform, Gembase was further expanded to support RMS (Not a true relational database engine, so special programming considerations are required).

The Gembase Data Dictionary provides the developer a method of controlling and configuring the underlying database, without learning a new set of tools and commands when the database engine changes. Since most database engines work through SQL, the interface to the underlying database engine has a high-level consistency. Provided the Data Dictionary interface and commands remain consistent, the underlying interface can be tuned to take advantage of features of each database engine.

Hardware Independence.

As mentioned, Gembase was written in C. C, and later C++ have become standard development languages on several hardware platforms, this meant that Gembase could move to other hardware platforms. Over a fairly short period of time, Gembase was successfully transferred to various UNIX platforms. At the time this ocurred, Windows was not seen as an operating system capable of supporting existing systems. Yet, the market was pushing more for Windows based systems, the perception was, and still is, that GUI (Graphical User Interface) systems are easier for end-users to operate.

Ross developed the Gembase Client, a PC-based interface that could communicate with a server to gain access to the database. Here was an ingeneous solution that ran exactly the same code as Gembase on the server, yet had more of a graphical look & feel. With version 6 of Gembase, a new "thin client" is included which should provide the graphical appearance whilst leaving the processing on the server. This should prove paricularly useful as systems become spread over a wider geographical area and acess a server through a Wide Area Network.

The initial development of a client proved to be a move that aided in the evolution of Gembase. As PCs became more powerful, and PC operating systems matured with the advent of Windows NT, Gembase was developed to run on this new operating system, and thus on a new hardware platform. With Linux becoming more popular, and being taken seriously by companies like Oracle perhaps Gembase will soon appear on this emerging operating system.

What does this all mean?

Other languages and systems exist that are available on a range of hardware platforms, but most have been developed to work with a single database engine.

Several database engines are now available on different hardware platforms, most have their own proprietary development language and tools.

Gembase stands out as one of the few development environments available on several hardware platforms, and operating with a standard interface to a number of database engines.

A small application can be developed on a single PC to support a handful of users, then without code redevelopment, moved to a larger server supporting hundreds of users accessing the system through desktop PCs or dumb terminals. Of course, when developing larger applications, a more powerful platform such as OpenVMS, is better suited. PC architecture does not lend itself to providing a controlled and regulated development environment.

We would welcome any utilities aimed at managing the development environment written in Gembase, any utilities we develop ourselves will be included. Please place any contributions in the Forum, and ensure that these are personal developments. Ensure you are complying with the policies of your organisation before posting any items in the forum. Before including any user contributions in the main part of this site, we reserve the right to adjust them to our coding standards.

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This page last updated on 3rd April 1999.