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What Is JDBC? Working with leaders in the database field, JavaSoft developed a single API for database access--JDBC. As part of this process, they kept three main goals in mind:
JDBC should be an SQL-level API.
JDBC should capitalize on the experience of existing database APIs.
JDBC should be simple.
An SQL-level API means that JDBC allows us to construct SQL statements and embed them inside Java API calls. In short, you are basically using SQL. But JDBC lets you smoothly translate between the world of the database and the world of the Java application. Your results from the database, for instance, are returned as Java variables, and access problems get thrown as exceptions. Later on in the book, we go a step further and talk about how we can completely hide the existence of the database from a Java application using a database class library.
Because of the confusion caused by the proliferation of proprietary database access APIs, the idea of a universal database access API to solve this problem is not a new one. In fact, JavaSoft drew upon the successful aspects of one such API, Open DataBase Connectivity (ODBC). ODBC was developed to create a single standard for database access in the Windows environment. Although the industry has accepted ODBC as the primary means of talking to databases in Windows, it does not translate well into the Java world. First of all, ODBC is a C API that requires intermediate APIs for other languages. But even for C developers, ODBC has suffered from an overly complex design that has made its transition outside of the controlled Windows environment a failure. ODBC's complexity arises from the fact that complex, uncommon tasks are wrapped up in the API with its simpler and more common functionality. In other words, in order for you to understand a little of ODBC, you have to understand a lot.
In addition to ODBC, JDBC is heavily influenced by existing database programming APIs such as X/OPEN SQL Call Level Interface. JavaSoft wanted to re-use the key abstractions from these APIs, which would ease acceptance by database vendors and capitalize on the existing knowledge capital of ODBC and SQL CLI developers. In addition, JavaSoft also realized that deriving an API from existing ones can provide quick development of solutions for database engines that support the old protocols. Specifically, JavaSoft worked in parallel with Intersolv to create an ODBC bridge that maps JDBC calls to ODBC calls, thus giving Java applications access to any database management system (DBMS) that supports ODBC.
JDBC attempts to remain as simple as possible while providing developers with maximum flexibility. A key criterion employed by JavaSoft is simply asking whether database access applications read well. The simple and common tasks use simple interfaces, while more uncommon or bizarre tasks are enabled through extra interfaces. For example, three interfaces handle a vast majority of database access. JDBC nevertheless provides several other interfaces for handling more complex and unusual tasks.