Re: First Impressions on Using Alphora's Dataphor

From: Laconic2 <>
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 2004 17:26:00 -0400
Message-ID: <>

"Paul G. Brown" <> wrote in message

> First, I ain't a Dr. And second, I'm not sure I respect my own knowledge
> and opinions, so I'm wary when someone else says they do.

Ahh, someone like myself! A refreshing change from the people who know everything, for small values of everything. I look forward to discussing things with you. Maybe we'll each learn something.
> I'd respond by pointing out that it is revolution, not evolution, that
> has characterized the development of ideas in computer science. And
> specifically, repeated revolutions in our conceptualization of what
> constitutes a 'system' or 'program'. Vannevar Bush had dreamed up
> hypertext and something like the HTML/HTTP based web in 1945, but along
> the way we've endured mainframes, two-tier, three tier,
> networked/distributed architectures, the Web and peer-to-peer.

I don't agree. I've been through lots of "revolutions" over the course of my career.
Assembler to structured programming in 3GL to OOP. Flat files to indexed files to hierachical, codasyl, and relational DBMS. Raw iron modems to Arpanet to Internet.
Mainframes to Timeshared machines to minicomputers to desktops and palmtops.

And so on.

I think the revolutions are more apparent than real. Most of them gather momentum outside of the general view, and then suddenly bloom when they are ready for prime time.


When was the floppy disk invented? 1970 When was the first "object oriented language" developed? 1967 (Simula) or 1981 (Smalltalk).
When was the relational model applied to database systems? 1970 or 1982 when the commercial world took over.
When were the first computers connected in the Arpanet? 1970 When was the first Intel microchip porcessor? 1972 (the 4004)

And so on.

All of these things that seemed so "revolutionary" when they burst on the scene were actually years or decades in the making.

Even the wrold wide web. Between Vannevar Bush and HTML there was a long progression, including hypertext itself, and markup lanaguages.

> The DBMS tombstone has engraved upon it "6%", which is the growth rate
> in license sales over the last few years. This says to people with
> money that investment in DBMS technology will not generate
> a reasonable rate of return. (By DBMS, I mean software products that
> manage a shared, centralized repository or 'data bank'). The market
> these products has become commoditized beneath a rigid standard and
> any attempt to break out of that standard is met with contempt by
> customers. Want to compete in the DBMS business? Price, price, price.

You make a good point here. But I think the 6% figure is just a reaction to the "overselling" of DBMS licenses
during the last 15 years or so. People bought Oracle, DB2 or SQLserver licenses not because they really wanted to manage a "data bank" in the classical sense at all. They just used SQL based DBMS software because "it's the latest thing" or "everybody else is doing it, and they must be really smart."

Those are lousy reasons for choosing any tool, and a DBMS is no exception.

What's interesting is that it's still growing. Those people whose career depends on 40% growth rates are toast.
But that's true in every field: insurance, real estate, agriculture, and even social security.

BTW, I wouldn't call it "centralized" anymore. But I would call it "integrated". What matters is not whether the data is kept in the same placed but whether it can be used together.

> On the other hand, the theory and practice of information management
> continues to be important and to grow new limbs. How are we going to
> cope with inputs from a pervasive computing infrastructure? What is
> most useful level of abstraction at which to view distributed hardware
> resources? These challenges are driving requirements for which the
> DBMS model of the world--either SQL DBMS or TR DBMS--is entirely

You are right on here. Integrating disjoint and fragmented data is going to be around for a long, long time. Much longer than the DBMS fad. The thing is, it not only takes someone who is wise, knowledgeable, and canny to do it. It also takes a reasonably smart manager to know that it needs to be done. It's going to take a while for the market to permit those who use stategic long term data strategies to gain the commercial advantage over those who fly by the seat of their pants.

I'm not sure I can wait that long.

> Now I'm convinced that, because it supports declarative programming,
> relational thinking is at least extremely useful (in my bolder moments
> I'd even sign up for 'central' or 'necessary'). But sitting around
> comparing the merits and demerits of Dataphor and SQL DBMS
> seems to be a gigantic waste of time. Like squabbling about whether
> or Latin is the true language of religious consciousness.

A fascinating sub topic. Having grown up in Latin America, I know Latin much better than Dan Quayle did. ;-)
 But Greek has all these neat features like the aorist tense and the middle voice.

It seems like Greek was invented for philosophers, while Latin was invented for engineers and generals.
> (Why am I bothering, then? Because I'd like to be convinced otherwise.
> It would soothe my worries about my career choices no end.)

There are no easy choices. Don't worry about making the wrong one. Received on Tue Aug 31 2004 - 23:26:00 CEST

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