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Microsoft's JDBC Driver for SQL Server Stacks Up Against Competition  : Page 3

At long last, a FREE Type 4 JDBC Driver for MS SQL Server 2000.




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Testing Drivers for J2EE Compatibility
One of the ways in which you can test that the JDBC driver conforms to Sun's J2EE specification is to test it against a JDBC API Test Suite. Although this test won't demonstrate the driver's performance in relation to other JDBC drivers, it does indicate whether you will be able to use the driver in J2EE environments.

The Microsoft Web site states that Microsoft is in the final stages of getting certification to make its JDBC driver J2EE-compatible, which it likely will because the driver is basically just a repackaged DataDirect driver. DataDirect not only built the "Microsoft" driver, it also provides all the customer support for it. In plain English, it is a DataDirect driver.

At first glance, this may seem like a foolish decision by DataDirect. How is it going to sell its drivers if customers can just download the free driver from Microsoft? But look more closely. The free Microsoft JDBC driver works only with SQL Server 2000, not the older versions. As new versions of the DataDirect drivers come out, customers will make the natural move from Microsoft to DataDirect in order to get the new functionality.

The Devil You Know
"Better the devil you know" is an English expression meaning trust the person or thing you are familiar with rather than risking the unknown (according to the Wordsworth Dictionary of Cliche). Every database driver has quirks, funny bugs that cause certain JDBC functionalities to fail. I have yet to see a driver that works completely for everything that I throw at it, but at least you know what your current driver's quirks are.

If you're currently using the JDBC-ODBC Bridge to connect to SQL Server 2000, I recommend you switch to Microsoft's free Type 4 driver. If you are using some of the other drivers (i-net SPRINTA, Atinav AveConnect, etc.), I recommend that you make sure your applications will still run with the Microsoft driver before switching. Once you start using the Microsoft driver, you can easily switch to the DataDirect driver, which you might have to do if you need JDBC 3.0 functionality.

Herein lies the catch: by going for the Microsoft driver you are pretty much binding yourself to DataDirect drivers. That may not be a bad choice, howeverlook at the performances of the various drivers. Ask yourself if that is what your business wants to do before migrating to the "new" Microsoft driver.

Dr. Heinz Kabutz owns Maximum Solutions, a Cape Town-based consulting firm that specializes in Java technology. He spends the majority of his time programming Java OO applications and also advises companies who wish to embrace Java as a technology. He has been a lead programmer in one of the first big Java developments in South Africa, now consisting of almost 600,000 lines of Java code. He has been programming in Java since 1997. He can be reached at h.kabutz@computer.org.
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