Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Notes on the SAP DB installation

Someone asked me how the installation of SAP DB went, after they read about it in a previous blog entry. That reminded me that I had wanted to add a few more notes to help folks interested in trying it out.

Well, the install wasn't too painful, though I guess that's a relative term. I had thought about commenting on it in the previous entry, then I figured that anyone who's worked with other open source DBMS's will be used to quirks. Still, since he asked, here are some observations, and on more than just the install itself. I can certainly understand one finding challenges. Hope this will help. I did it on a Win2k system, and some of the quirks were:

- the downloadable file at sapdb.org was a ".tgz" file (compressed "tar" file), rather than a .zip file. Still, winzip recognized it and opened it.
- I couldn't run the sdbinst.exe install program from within winzip, because it expected to leverage a perl.dll also in there. I simply extracted those manually to a single directory and ran it from there, no problem.
- it doesn't create any sort of "start>programs" kind of entry, which can be confusing to some.
- the service it installs (SAPDB) is not set to start automatically, so you have to start it manually or choose to have it start automatically

From there, you need to also download the odbc and/or jdbc drivers, which is all you really need. The odbc install executable worked fine for CF5, with a caveat: it didn't show up in the CF Admin's list of datasource driver types, but I could create it in the ODBC Data Sources dialogue in windows, where it showed up as "SAP DB 7.3" or "SAP DB 7.3 Web", depending on which you downloaded. I didn't see any obvious difference between them. So while you can't add new DSNs in the CF Admin, you can edit them once added this other way (though the CF Admin datasource edit screen indicates some limits in what it will allow you to edit about the DSN properties). I just added that info to the Blog entry.

In MX, as I discuss in the blog, there were a couple steps needed. Again, I don't think they're any different than for any other DBMS, but admittedly most don't bother adding new JDBC drivers, so that takes some experience (but I explain how in the blog entry, also added since the very first version I published).

That's all one really needs, but it will be helpful for most to add the database manager and sql tools. There are 2 types for each, web-based and desktop/Gui. The desktop/Gui versions are only available on Windows, but most things can be done in the web-based tools.

There's also a means to setup a first demo db, at http://www.sapdb.org/sampledb_tgz.htm. A couple of quirks there are that, for one thing, it tells you to run a ".cmd" file which may be confusing to folks who don't recognize that file type. It's a "windows NT command script", but it works just like a batch file. Just run t from the command line in the directory it tells you to. Also, the page lists an available dbm/dbm username/password pair, but they didn't seem to work. The listed test/test and dba/dba did work ok. Also, once installed, this sample db doesn't have any "real" tables of data. It's all a bunch of system tables (as I saw from within Studio's database query tool). Guess it's more of a skeleton.

Once I added a new table with the "SAP DB SQL studio" tool above, that was then accessible from CF (including Studio). In fact, I found that CF Studio's db tool changed from listing all the system tables to listing just the "real" table(s), once I added some.

Oh, and how did I add a table? Of course, one could do it via DDL (Create Table) SQL statements from within CF, once the dsn is defined. But the SQL Studio tool allows you to right-click on its "tables" option and choose "new". From there, it's much like creating one in SQL Server or Access. I couldn't figure how to do it through the web-based tools, though.

That leads to the docs. I tried to find out how to do that in the docs, but I couldn't find it. I have to admit that the docs don't have any sort of "how to get started", so I've written all these notes. There's not any book written on the market either, from what I can tell (hmm, I smell an opportunity). There are quite a few docs. They're not perfect. When I said in my previous blog entry that they were "professional", I was being influenced more by the installation guides, where were pretty organized and seemed to anticipate one's questions at each step.

I should add too that one other quirk there is that the links to the docs offered on some pages (such as the URL mentioned in the next paragraph) will link only to the "Reference", which really isn't what you'd want to start with at all. Instead, go to http://www.sapdb.org/sap_db_documentation.htm and choose the docs from there, available both as HTML and PDFs. Most will want to start with the "user guide" (and the "installation guides", of course), as well as the docs on the dbm (manager) and sql (query) tools.

Finally, I should add that there's a nice single page listing all the software needed (for all os's) at http://www.sapdb.org/sap_db_downloads.htm (there's also a list at http://www.sapdb.org/sap_db_software.htm, but it doesn't list all the tools).

I have to admit, though, that an even stranger curiosity was that when I'd click the links for these software download links, nothing would happen. I thought it was a transient problem, but after trying several times over a long period, I finally noticed that they were in an FTP directory, so I grabbed them with an FTP client instead of the browser.

I suppose all these things might keep some from being able to make the leap. I suppose it depends on how much someone is willing to work through the challenges. In any case, I hope that now this compendium of observations helps folks.

I mean, it really seems to be an enterprise-strength DBMS that's free for deployment. I know licensing cost is only a small part of the equation, but having got over these humps, it looks like all the benefits of the tools are now readily available to us.

As for speed comparisons, I haven't seen any, but the few discussions I've seen about it have implied that it's speedy and scalable. I guess I'm opening the doors to a larger audience of people to hear more about what folks may find out. Hey, it's free. It's worth a try.

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