Delphi Database Development
by Ted Blue, John Kaster, Loren Scott and Greg Lief

This book review was first published in the Aug/Sept 1996 UK-BUG newsletter
Delphi Database Development
Ted Blue, John Kaster, Loren Scott
and Greg Lief
M&T Books
968 pages (CD-ROM)
US$ 44.95

Delphi Database Development is not really a book to read from cover to cover. Rather, it can be used as the "un-official" Borland Database Engine (BDE) manual for Delphi 1 and 2. "For Delphi", because unlike the BDE helpfile and manuals from Borland, this time the APIs and examples are using the Object Pascal syntax and compile with Delphi! Hence, this book is an important add-on for those who cannot (or will not) read C code examples.

The book consists of several parts: five chapters and eight appendices (the publisher wanted to cut down the appendices, but I'm glad they didn't do it in the end). The book is ideal for those who need to work with the BDE and want to see actual examples. Also, for people coming from the Xbase world (including dBASE and Clipper) the book is a good starting point:

IntroductionLoren, John 6
Chapter 1: Overview of Database Development in DelphiLoren, John14
Chapter 2: The Data Access ComponentsTed159
Chapter 3: Visual Data ControlsGreg210
Chapter 4: The TField ComponentsTed66
Chapter 5: BDE Function ReferenceLoren, John316
Appendix A: BDE Error Return CodesLoren16
Appendix B: BDE Constants, Type and Data StructuresLoren28
Appendix C: BDE Categorical ReferenceLoren13
Appendix D: Xbase to Borland Delphi Conversion NotesJohn34
Appendix E: Interbase Structured Query Language (ISQL) Ted32
Appendix F: File FormatsJohn36
Appendix G: Delphi Component HeirarchyTed8
Appendix H: Alternative Database EnginesLoren, John12
As I've said before: the book is mainly a reference manual, which means that every component and API is described in its own context and with an example that only shows that particular conponent or API at work. Apart from the BDE, this book also contains information about the data-access and data-aware controls, an overview of the InterBase SQL and other information that is very helpful to those who come from an Xbase background.

A revision of the book is already in the works, in which one of the chapters may be cut down by about 210 pages, to be replaced by another 200 pages of information. Also, chapter 5 should then get headers with useful information (like the current function that's being described, instead of only the name of the chapter, which may speed up searching significantly!)

The CD-ROM that comes with Delphi Database Development includes some sample database applications and bonus third party Delphi products, shareware and freeware. It also includes product demos and information (APOLLO, Xphiles) and issues of the Delphi Aquarium/Delphi Objectc Lessons and Delphi Informant.

I can recommend this book because it's a lot better than the BDE helpfile and manuals that Borland provide (with the C code examples). I'd love to have the book in WinHelp format (including a KWF file, so I can look for the entries from within the Delphi IDE), and/or I need the page headings of chapter 5 to include the name of the API that's being references, but other than that I'm really pleased with the amount of information contained in this book. If only someone could tell me *which* API I need in a particular situation...

The scores for TDMBKS are as follows (out of five):

  Technical Contents Q: 5
    Quality of Writing: 4 (actually a 3.5 until chapter 5 gets headers ;-)
       Value for Money: 4
    Overall Assessment: 4
Summary: This is *the* BDE Reference Guide that should have been part of Delphi in the first place. Index titles on the pages in chapter 5 are a serious shortcoming, but other than that it should have a permanent place on the desk of any Delphi/BDE developer...

(Bob Swart)

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