Shipping Software with Databases
An important goal of the Microsoft is to make working with databases standard practice for shrinkwrap application developers by integrating database technology into Windows. In Microsoft alone, countless products have built their own proprietary data stores from Outlook, which wastes development resources without necessarily improving over what could be accomplished with a dedicated database engine.
In the late nineties, Microsoft introduced MSDE (a reduced subset of SQL Server) as a first step towards that goal, but installation with other applications was cumbersome. JET probably was first, but I can’t seem to find a redistributable for it, as it is no longer distributed with MDAC and it doesn’t appear to be included in Windows XP; it might just only be available with VB and Access applications. The postponed WinFS was originally supposed to serve as the native database engine for Vista; a Channel 9 video on the new Windows Mail indicated that affected Vista features were now making use of JET or possibly SQL Server Express for the time-being.
About a year ago, I went to a .NET user group meeting in which a SQL Server team member was promoting the use of SQL Server Express 2005. The speaker got me excited by touting a number of the new features introduced to address the needs of commercial application developer like simplified deployment (XCOPY deployment and other features), a complete feature set with few, mostly insignificant, limitations. Unfortunately, at the end of the talk, I asked him about the size of the redistributable, which turned out to be several tens of megabytes (something like 50MB). This size made SQL Server Express impractical for me, since my primary channel is online.
After Microsoft announced this past summer the official name, Windows Vista, for the next iteration of the operating system, I learned about a database company of the same name. Vista Software apparently scored a publicity coup and perhaps some hush money by portraying themselves in news articles as the latest victims wronged by Microsoft.
I then heard of some happy customers of their SQL database product, Vista DB, in a few of Joel’s Design of Software discussion forum posts. While I have no experience with the product, it seemed to address many of my concerns, such as small footprint (500K), low-cost, royalty-free, .NET based, and easy to deploy. A more extensive list of features is included here.
Last week, I received a request for notice in my blog of their new .NET Version, VistaDB 2.1, in exchange for a free copy. Vista Software is apparently engaging in viral marketing by offering up a free copy to any .NET blogger in exchange for blog mentions. Since I was already considering possibly purchasing a copy of their software, I decided to take upon their offer, but I am hesistant to include their blurb, since I prefer not to incorporate other people’s words as my own.