Conversion Story


The following is a preview of the March 15, 2010 ODUG meeting...

It is a story of corruption in high places, and the daunting task of doing away with the evildoers – at least those responsible for the unrest. To the casual observer, everything seemed normal, but down deep, where access to the critical information took place, events unfolded with far reaching implications. Some said that corruption was just a fact of life. Others blamed it on the Evil Empire. And others even said nothing could be done because the people using the network couldn’t be convinced to do the right thing. Everything they said was true.

One day, 15 years ago, an unsuspecting person trusted what the Evil Empire said about Access to data. Little did he know that his decision would lead to more and more corruption. A product was released using Access as the front-end and the back-end. The market was ripe, and sales went nuts, but then the corruption started. First the front-end couldn’t be trusted, and that soon spread to the back-end. It quickly rose to the point where the service calls were so frequent that our hero was unable to program fixes. What he soon learned was that he couldn’t fix it. He had to re-invent it.

Even though sales were still rolling in, a painful decision had to be made. All sales were halted until a new front end could be created. There simply wasn’t enough time to recreate a new front-end and back-end. Once again, the Evil Empire entered the picture. They said, “Here. Take Visual Basic. It will end the corruption.” What they said made sense. VB wasn’t a database, so it wasn’t as corruptible. What they didn’t say was that it was too slow to do the job. That’s when the real hero of the story came in … Delphi 3.

The front-end became a Delphi 3 program, but the back-end remained with the Evil-Empire. Delphi was so fast and stable that back-end corruption was rare, but it did happen. Various strategies were implemented to minimize corruption, or at least provide ways to restore. They were good enough to keep the product viable for 15 years. During that time there was a switch to Delphi 5, but data access was still BDE-like, using DAO. The 3rd party DAO components were difficult to upgrade to anything beyond Delphi 5. The Evil Empire said; “Here. Use ADO. It will let you upgrade.” What they didn’t say was that it was too slow to do the job, once again.

Over the last 15 years, features have been added to the program that couldn’t tolerate data loss caused by corrupt Access databases. One feature’s solution was to create dBase tables via Topaz. They simply don’t corrupt. Another feature’s solution was a small DBISAM database, which does corrupt, but not like Access. We’ll go into those during the meeting.

Today, the 15 year-old product looks pretty out of date. It was developed prior to wide screen monitors, and the components for D5 don’t do as well with themes as, say those in Delphi 2007. And, of course, there’s the reliance on a very corruptible database. All of that is being addressed in the latest version of the program, which we will cover in the meeting. More specifically:

  • We can discuss migration from Access, Topaz, & DBISAM to Firebird 2.X. This will include IBDAC Data Access components and why we chose them instead of IBObjects. We will also touch on IB Express as a Firebird Admin tool. We can also discuss the development of a Data Pump to move data from the three original databases into Firebird.
  • We can discuss report creation using Report Builder 11. This will include standard report printing as well as the creation of reports that allow interactive data entry by the end user, like filling out a paper form.
  • We can discuss Developer Express components replacement of Woll2Woll, Raize, and TMS components, and resolution and screen aspect ratio independence via MDI versus SDI.
  • We can discuss a backup program for the Firebird database, that will create a local backup file, or FTP the backup file to a remote site of your choice.
  • We can also discuss JediVCS as a version control system that can use several different databases, including DBISAM, MySQL, Firebird and others. It also extends the Delphi IDE so that projects can be checked in or out from within Delphi as easy as opening a project from disk files.
  • We can also discuss anything else related to Delphi or programming in general.


HOMER JONES is currently the President of Agency Business Systems, Incorporated, a Portland-based company providing office management software to the Insurance Industry. He has served as an MIS manager for General Motors Corporation, System Sales Manager for Control Data Corporation, and Programmer Analyst for ADP. Homer received his Ph.D. from Oregon State University and taught System Documentation at San Jose State University.


This presentation will be shown in the meeting room of the Round Table Pizza in Milwaukie. The address is:

16550 SE McLoughlin
Milwaukie, OR

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