posted by Paul Richter on Mon 3rd Oct 2005 19:52 UTC
IconIn about six weeks time developers from all over the world will convene in Prague for the 2005 edition of the Firebird Conference. This year's conference has an even greater abundance of speakers and topics than the previous editions of the event. The various tracks on the conference will cover Firebird itself, development languages and solution stacks, development tools and issues and applications. And, of course, it is a great opportunity to meet the community.

Despite being one of the most popular open source databases, Firebird may be somewhat unfamiliar to the regular OSNews readership. Just in case you did not know already, let me introduce Firebird to you: Firebird is an open source database with roots in Borland's Interbase, which itself has roots going back 20 years.

Because of the bundling with Delphi and Kylix, Firebird is very popular with the approximately 1 million Delphi developers around the world. In the last decade tens of thousands C/S applications have been created and the Firebird installed base is estimated at just under 2 million deployments (and about 3 million if you include legacy Interbase installations). Although the bulk of the deployments is for mid-market use, a significant share is for "enterprise level" usage. Firebird is at the core of about one-third of financial applications in the former Soviet Union and SAS, the world's largest privately held software firm, has chosen Firebird to drive its high-end business analytics systems.

The Firebird core track of the conference will focus on new developments, development process and roadmap, and give a view of the database internals. Dmitry Yemanov, the release manager for Firebird 1.5 and Firebird 2.0, will talk about the current and future releases, and give an overview of how Firebird works "under the hood". Jim Starkey, the original author of Firebird, will talk about the Vulcan project, a wholesale rewrite and clean-up of the code base, optimised for modern SMP hardware. Paul Ruizendaal, main driver of the Fyracle project, will talk about Firebird's oracle compatibility mode and Arno Brinkman will explain how the optimiser works, a topic that always draws large crowds at Firebird conferences. Others will speak about the Firebird Q&A process, about performance testing and new security features.

The languages track covers the various solution stacks that are commonly used with Firebird: Delphi, Java, .Net and PHP. Many sessions cover developing with Delphi, or more correctly with Object Pascal: the original Delphi tool has been joined with a Linux version by Borland, Kylix, and by a cross-platform open source edition, FreePascal/Lazarus. Delphi based talks include Jason Warton on his famous IBObjects class library, Fikret Hasovic, editor of the Firebird News, on n-tier programming and Kim Madsen on the kbmMW application server. Java is also well covered with Roman Rokyttskyy, project lead for the Firebird JCA/JDBC driver, talking about the new 2.0 release and Eugeny Putilin talking about stored procedures and trigger bodies written in Java. Programming in PHP will be covered from various angles, including Lester Caine's ever popular how-to talks.

General development issues are covered in the tools, tips and tricks track. Milan Babushkov will speak about FlameRobin, the emerging project admin tool (Firebird has always been surrounded by a rich cottage industry of tool vendors, so for along time there was not a tool by the Firebird project itself). There are talks about development libraries, such as InstantObjects, FireQ and FIBPlus, and about application optimization. Carlos Cantu, author of the leading Firebird book in Brazil, will talk about advanced Firebird programming with PSQL, stored procedures and events. Other topics that are covered in this track are migration, conversion, internationalization, audit trails and, last but not least, replication.

This year's applications track will prove to be very interesting. Bill Oliver and Tom Cole will speak about SAS and their choice for Firebird inside of their enterprise level business analytics software. Jeanot Bijpost, winner of the 2004 RAD Race, will speak about model driven development and the innovative Cathedron application builder. ERP applications will be covered from several angles: the Cathedron system has been used to build a large, distributed ERP system, the oracle-mode talk will cover running Compiere on top of Firebird, and Claus Heeg will speak about building web ERP systems using Firebird and ColdFusion. An entirely different application class is covered in Vince Duggan's talk about using Firebird to implement a fingerprint recognition system

The best of any conference is always the people. This edition of the Firebird conference will have participants from all five continents, both speakers and visitors. Many of the project's core developers and personalities will attend, so the conference will be a hub for exchanging views and experiences. For every Firebird user, it is an ideal opportunity to give feedback to the developers and to potentially influence the Firebird roadmap.

Looking forward to meeting you in Prague this November!

Paul Richter

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