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Object Design brews Java support

The company plans to add tools intended to make the Java database more appealing to companies building Java-based mobile and embedded applications.

Object Design is taking a product once considered a giveaway sales tool and turning it into a new revenue source.

ObjectStore PSE Pro release 2.0 includes support for full querying and indexing capabilities for better performance, and adds support for Sun Microsystems' Java Development Kit (JDK) version 1.2.

The company plans to update its Java database next week with tools intended to make it more appealing to companies building Java-based applications in the mobile and embedded applications.

ODI used version 1.0 of PSE, a scaled-down version of its more capable and expensive ObjectStore database server, as a sales tool, according to company executives. Now small-footprint databases have become a hot market, and ODI hopes to reap revenues from PSE.

"We had been using PSE for lead generation," said Pat O'Brien, Java product manager at the company. "We let users play with the product and hopefully a light bulb or two will go on, and they will move on to Object Store."

The company is aiming the database at the growing market for mobile and embedded database software used in handheld computers, industrial equipment, other software products, and set-top boxes.

Other database makers, such as Oracle and Sybase, are also targeting the mobile and embedded market.

ODI's edge is its background in developing object-oriented databases. ODI, like competitor Versant Object Technology and other vendors, is recasting its marketing pitch to snare an increasingly large audience of Java developers.

ODI has pounced on the explosive growth of Java to give it new cache as a provider of databases designed specifically for object-based Java applications.

Other makers have adapted relational databases to handle Java's object structure. ODI executives claim that relational systems retrofitted to handle Java may work for pilot projects and small implementations, but that they do not scale as users add additional data to be managed.

To counter claims that object databases are not as developer-friendly as their relational counterparts, the Burlington, Massachusetts-based company has added conventional tools from the relational world to speed development and performance.

The new database, which weighs in at a scant 450K, includes a query interface that allows developers to write Java applications that can quickly search and find specific data. The indexing capability means that developers can accelerate database queries by building an index that optimizes the path to retrieve information.

The company said release 2.0 will also include new capabilities for the grouping of objects. The new database will be enabled to work with a JDK 1.2 feature called collections, which can help improve the reuse and interoperability of data objects.

The new database will also take advantage of Java's "garbage collection" feature, a popular ability that allows the language to automatically manage storage of objects. Developers frequently cite garbage collection as one of Java's key advantages over other languages, such as C++. PSE Pro will extend the use of garbage collection to manage database objects, the company said.

Overall, the new version of ObjectStore PSE Pro includes support for larger databases. The company said the upgrade can support databases up to several hundred megabytes in size.

The database is priced at $245 per developer and at $95 per user. ObjectStore PSE Pro runs on any Java-supported operating system, including Windows, Unix, OS/2, and the Macintosh. A free 30-day trial version of the database is posted to ODI's Web site.