Open Database Access and ODBC

An Issue Paper by FFE Software, Inc.

Open systems provide a standard to write applications to which is portable to multiple systems. Portability is the key. In prior relational systems, Embedded SQL was the only semi-portable interface. With the introduction of Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) by Microsoft, a truly portable database API (Applications Programming Interface) became available.

ODBC is a function set that provides an interface that is portable to multiple platforms and RDBMSs. A single application can be connected to different database backends with no changes, re-compilation or re-linking required. At the same time, ODBC provides a powerful set of facilities for controlling and utilizing databases.

This paper examines the issues of ODBC as an open system. It begins with an overview of portable database interfaces and then describes the nature of ODBC. It concludes with a look at the future of ODBC and the dark clouds that are threatening the standard.


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