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Feeling Retro? dBASE is back with a modern look

Some apps never die, but is dBASE still relevant?

Some of you are old enough to remember a time when the main word processor, spreadsheet and personal database programs were NOT Word, Excel and Access. Thirty years ago, dBASE ruled IBM PC compatibles and was the standard for data management alongside Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect.

A quick history lessons for you young 'uns: Back in the 1980s, dBASE was the standard PC database application, until 1988 when Ashton-Tate, the developer, released dBASE IV. If you think Windows 8 was a screw-up, well, that was nothing. At least Windows 8 works. dBASE IV was a slow, buggy mess, and rather than fixing it, Ashton-Tate got distracted with other products. It took two years to ship fixes, and by that time, people had moved on to clones of dBASE like FoxBase.

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By the time Borland purchased Ashton-Tate in 1992 for the ridiculous sum of $439 million, dBASE had lost much share and momentum. Microsoft introduced Access and Borland had its own database, called Paradox, which caused conflict within Borland between the two teams. Borland later sold the assets to dBASE Inc., which now operates as dBase LLC.

Give dBase (the company) credit for keeping up with the times and including support for a lot of Microsoft database technology. This new version, called dBASE PLUS 8 with ADO, is focused on modernizing the approach to database application development and updating the look and feel of the product.

dBASE PLUS 8 is touted as "a rapid application development environment that includes a modern object oriented programming language (dBL) that runs on 32 and 64 bit versions of Microsoft Windows, including the latest version of Windows 8."

It can be used to build a variety of applications, including Web applications running on IIS or Apache, and 32- or 64-bit Windows client applications, along with middleware and server-based applications running on Windows Server 2012.

The ADO support includes the ability to connect to ADO sources and create and use Microsoft UDL files, or universal data link (.udl), which is essentially a text file that contains the connection string for an OLE DB data source.

You can find all the details on the dBase site. There's even a free trial.

So now, guess I'll check for new versions of WordPerfect and Quattro Pro. Heck, might even have an OS upgrade for my old Amiga.

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