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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008

    Unanswered: About learning 4D ODBC

    I found a listing for a project in site and was curious as I used to do database work. When I searched and found out about 4D database software (the guru listing mentioned "knowledge of 4D language" - I thought it was a more "normal" language) I read up on it and got excited about it as it sounded like something a company I worked for needed badly as the UNIFY on Altos computers was pure crap. The company I worked for is long gone and so is my database experience.

    However, keep in mind that I'm not asking what is popular (for employment purposes) but am asking if 4D is robust and commonly used or has a "small" list of companies using it. What I mean is more like though the 4D sites lists a lot of fortune 500 companies is it really a more specialty like database system and therefore is "insignificant" like UNIFY?

    I may be doing consulting work and can even be a recommender by way of database solution to some companies after learning it.

    Sure, maybe it's used by a "lot" of major corporations but is not a major player in the field and is fairly uncommon. Talk about a hard question to phrase.

    Sure, there are more robust ODBC (and other types, I was RDBMS - old!) and so on but I have to be careful that it is actually very few that use it primarily in their database development work.

    It does seem to have features to keep it up to date with today's needs like web interfaces and such so it seems legitimate.

    Unfortunately the colleges only teach like the "top 4" or so database systems but fortunately database knowledge and their proprietary language / IDE's just like my UNIFY had is somewhat easy to learn. I looked at support info about their 4D language and saw very familiar language features and syntax so it would be amazingly easy to learn 4D "language" for me.

    So who uses it? 4 major corporations and a very small handful of smaller companies on the West Coast or lots across the board or lots of major and smaller companies?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Arizona, USA
    Did you check the 4D website? They have a list of companies using their product.

    4D was originally known as Analyses Conseils Informations (ACI.) They offered a desktop relational database system called 4th Dimension, which was commonly shortened to 4D. Later they changed their name to match. Apparently, 4D is commonly used with Apple as a desktop database.

    But, their sales apparently aren't very high. I don't know whether this is because the product isn't that great, or because they just aren't able to distinguish themselves enough to sell themselves - to 'break through.' An alternative database server product MUST offer substantial performance improvements or cost reductions in order to justify the risk of migrating to a different database server. A new database server would entail migration costs, additional training costs, and increased risk over a 'proven' technology. If for nothing else, the risk of being able to recruit new or replacement personnel who are trained in its use...

    And, certainly, universities are NOT going to feature a commercial product which isn't in widespread use, unless it has a greatly superior feature set (or offers much better performance than competitors.) Why would they? If the training for the top 4 products 'covers' 99 percent of the installed systems, why would they want to train people to use a 'non-standard' technology? It wouldn't be cost effective for them, either, as they would have to invest a lot of time in getting themselves trained...


    BTW. I've done a bit of digging at their website.

    Apparently, 4D is used primarily either as a desktop database, or as a 'behind-the-scenes' database for applications. I have no idea if their underlying database scales up as well as a standard database server. It also appears that they also now offer a web server license, which allows a web server to connect to a separately licensed 4D database (via ODBC?)

    Since it's apparently been marketed as a developers solution, and that primarily in the MAC subculture, it's not surprising that they have not made inroads into the server market. Nor is it surprising that Universities don't feature it. If there's little-to-no demand, why should they?

    I took a look at their FAQs. They haven't updated the FAQs for some time, as they're still discussing the advantages of using 4D on Win NT or Win 2000 versus apple G3's. And, installing clients on Windows 98...
    Last edited by loquin; 05-27-08 at 15:13.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008

    About 4D

    Thanks, that gives me a lot of insight as to what the 4D system fits in as.

    Sure, "everyone" goes with SQL Server due to a perception that using the Microsoft product will handle the needs. The other corporations like IBM, Sun, etc. (which ones I don't know or need to know yet) have more specific systems to fit the Enterprise or similar level corporate need which probably would be considered direct but far more know and probably more robust or scalable than 4D. 4D might be called a "niche" market database system and might actually fit the kind of customers I might run into if I get back into consulting.

    FAQ's and other website information for the vendor often can be misleading as say all those corporations I saw listed only had a "5 seat" license use and was not their primary database server! Can't tell by reading.

    This gives me a good idea. It might be useful to learn (on my own) and go into application development using 4D or doing such work for another company. Of course it's obvious to get a SQL Server certification, etc. for conventional employment reasons but I don't do normal employment and work in consulting areas.

    At least it's not indicated as a "useless piece of junk" as I call UNIFY after they fleeced the company I was working for with a dreadfully buggy (and the last version was 100% useless with fatal errors - 1991 edition!). And SQL Server and related is for bigger corporations and such (I don't know how to put that). Perhaps a way to think of 4D after reading what you said is it's probably more like UNIFY but without the bugs!!! ;-)

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