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Summary of New Features

NOTE: Some of the material in this chapter is based on JDBCtm API Tutorial and Reference, Second Edition: Universal Data Access for the Javatm 2 Platform, published by Addison Wesley as part of the Java series, ISBN 0-201-43328-1.

This appendix summarizes the new features that have been added to the JDBC API over time. Note that in order to use a feature, you must be using a driver that supports that feature.

A.1 Overview of JDBC 3.0 API Changes

One of the major changes in the JDBC 3.0 API is that it includes the package javax.sql (the JDBC Optional Package) as well as the package java.sql. This overview is divided into two sections, the first giving new features introduced in the JDBC 3.0 API for both packages, and the second giving the features introduced in the JDBC 2.0 Optional Package. See the JDBC 3.0 API Specification for more detailed information.

A.1.1 Features Introduced in the JDBC 3.0 API

The JDBC 3.0 API introduces new material and changes in these areas:

A.1.2 Features Introduced in the JDBC 2.0 Optional Package

The following features, which were introduced in the javax.sql package, are now part of the JDBC 3.0 API and are included in the J2SE version 1.4:

A.2 Overview of JDBC 2.0 Core API Changes

The JDBC 2.0 core API includes the JDBC 1.0 API and adds enhancements and new functionality to it. These additions put the Java programming language at the forefront of database computing, providing both universal data access and improved performance.

Applications that use earlier versions of the JDBC API can be run using the Java 2 platform with no problem, in keeping with the goal of backward compatibility. However, an application that takes advantage of the new 2.0 features must be run with a driver that implements those features.

The new features in the JDBC 2.0 core API fall into two broad categories: support for new functionality and support for the SQL99 data types.

  1. Support for new functionality
    • scrollable result sets
    • batch updates
    • programmatic inserts, deletes, and updates
    • other
      • performance hints
      • character streams for streams of internationalized Unicode characters
      • full precision for java.math.BigDecimal values
      • support for time zones in Date, Time, and Timestamp values

  2. Support for advanced data types
    • new SQL data types (SQL99 types)
    • increased support for storing persistent objects in the Java programming language

      In addition to making the retrieval, storage, and manipulation of data more convenient, the new features make JDBC applications more efficient. For example, batch updates can increase performance dramatically. The new interfaces Blob, Clob, and Array allow applications to operate on large amounts of data without having to materialize the data on the client, which can mean a significant savings in transfer time and the amount of memory needed. Also, new methods for setting the fetch size and fetch direction let a programmer fine tune an application for more efficient data retrieval and processing.

A.3 Summary of New Functionality

The JDBC 2.0 core API adds important new functionality. The following sections briefly explain each new area of functionality and summarize the supporting API.

A.3.1 Scrollable Result Sets

Scrollable result sets provide the ability to move the cursor forward and backward to a specified position or to a position relative to the current position. The following interfaces have new methods that support scrollable result sets.

A.3.2 Batch Updates

The new batch update facility provides the ability to send multiple updates to the database to be executed as a batch rather than sending each update separately. The following interfaces add methods that support batch updates, and the exception BatchUpdateException is new.

A.3.3 Programmatic Updates

Programmatic updates provide the ability to make updates using the JDBC API rather than SQL statements. The following interfaces have new methods and constants that support programmatic updates.

A.3.4 Other New Features

The JDBC 2.0 core API provides various other new features, which are summarized in the following list.

A.4 Support for Advanced Data Types

The JDBC 2.0 core API adds support for using advanced data types, making it as easy to use them as it is to use simple data types. This support includes the ability to store, retrieve, and update even the new SQL data types that are essentially objects, blurring the distinction between object databases and relational databases. The next four sections ("What Are the SQL99 Data Types?" on page 145, "Summary of Support for the SQL99 Data Types" on page 146, "Mapping of the SQL99 Types" on page 148, and "SQL Locators" on page 149) describe how the JDBC 2.0 core API provides support for these advanced data types.

In addition to being able to store objects defined in SQL as values in a database table, programmers writing Java applications can also store objects defined in the Java programming language as values in a database table. The section "Support for Storing Java Objects" on page 149 describes this capability.

Note that a driver is not required to implement functionality that its DBMS does not support, so not all drivers necessarily implement the functionality described here. DatabaseMetaData methods such as getTypeInfo, getColumns, and getUDTs may be called to get information about which data types a driver supports.

A.4.1 What Are the SQL99 Data Types?

This section briefly describes the new SQL99 data types. Their mapping to types in the Java programming language is described in section A.4.3 on page 148.

The SQL99 data types can be categorized as follows:

A.4.2 Summary of Support for the SQL99 Data Types

The JDBC 2.0 core API supports the SQL 99 data types by means of the following new interfaces, methods, and fields.

A.4.3 Mapping of the SQL99 Types

The JDBC API does not try to replicate the SQL99 types exactly; rather, its goal is to map them to types in the Java programming language so that they retain their functionality and are convenient to use. For example, SQL99 has what are called locator types, which are used on a client to designate data that is stored on a database server. Locators can be very useful for dealing with data that is large because they allow the data to be manipulated without having to be materialized on the client machine. SQL99 includes locators for the types ARRAY, BLOB, CLOB and structured types. The JDBC API does not include locators for these types directly (and not at all for structured types) but rather provides interfaces that are implemented such that the driver and DBMS use the appropriate locators behind the scenes. The result is that a developer using the JDBC API to access an SQL ARRAY, BLOB, or CLOB value need not even be aware of locators.

The following SQL99 types are mapped to interfaces in the Java programming language:

Distinct types are not mapped to an interface because they are based on a single built-in type and thus can simply be mapped to the standard mapping for that built-in type. For example, the following is an SQL statement that creates the new type MONEY.

CREATE TYPE MONEY AS NUMERIC(10, 2)

This new UDT is based on the data type NUMERIC, which maps to java.math.BigDecimal, so the type MONEY maps to java.math.BigDecimal. This means that a value of type MONEY would be retrieved with the method getBigDecimal, stored with the method setBigDecimal, and updated with the method updateBigDecimal.

A.4.4 SQL Locators

An SQL LOCATOR is a logical pointer to data that resides on a database server. It typically refers to data that is too large to materialize on the client, such as images or audio. Locators exist only in a client environment, and their existence is transient. A standard implementation will use locators internally for instances of the Blob, Clob, and Array interfaces. This means that Blob, Clob, and Array objects contain a locator that points to the data on the server rather than containing the data itself. Programmers operating on Blob, Clob, and Array instances are actually operating on the database objects they represent. This ability to operate on large database objects without bringing their data to the client is a major plus in performance.

Note that the JDBC API does not call for using the SQL LOCATOR(structured type). In a standard implementation, a Struct object contains the data of the structured type that it maps and is not implemented internally as a locator, as are Blob, Clob, and Array objects.

A.4.5 Support for Storing Java Objects

The JDBC API has always supported persistent storage of objects defined in the Java programming language through the methods getObject and setObject. But, of course, persistent storage of Java objects does not actually occur unless a DBMS also supports it. Up to this point, support was limited, but a new generation of DBMSs that recognize Java objects as a data type is emerging. In these DBMSs, termed Java relational DBMSs, an instance of a Java class can be stored as a column value in a database table.


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