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How to Use Object-Oriented RAD Tools with SQL

By using state-of-the-art RAD tools with SQL, you can develop sophisticated applications without knowing how to write a single line of code in C++, C#, Python, Java, or any procedural language, for that matter. Instead, you choose objects from a library and place them in appropriate spots on the screen.

Objects of different standard types have characteristic properties, and selected events are appropriate for each object type. You can also associate a method with an object. The method is a procedure written in (well, yeah) a procedural language. Building useful applications without writing any methods is possible, however.

Although you can build complex applications without using a procedural language, sooner or later you’ll probably need SQL. SQL has a richness of expression that is difficult, if not impossible, to duplicate with object-oriented programming. As a result, full-featured RAD tools offer you a mechanism for injecting SQL statements into your object-oriented applications.

Microsoft’s Visual Studio is an example of an object-oriented development environment that offers SQL capability. Microsoft Access is another application development environment that enables you to use SQL in conjunction with its procedural language, VBA.

Creating database tables with Access represents only a small fraction of Access’s capabilities. Access is a tool, and its primary purpose is to develop applications that process the data in database tables. Using Access, you can place objects on forms and then customize the objects by giving them properties, events, and methods. You can manipulate the forms and objects with VBA code, which can contain embedded SQL.

Although RAD tools such as Access can deliver high-quality applications in less time, they usually don’t work across all platforms. Access runs only with the Microsoft Windows operating system. You may discover that the RAD tool you chose works on a few platforms, but if building platform-independent functionality is important to you — or if you think you may want to migrate your application to a different platform eventually — beware.

RAD tools such as Access represent the beginning of the eventual merger of relational and object-oriented database design. The structural strengths of relational design and SQL will both survive. They will be augmented by the rapid — and comparatively bug-free — development that comes from object-oriented programming.

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