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Linux Web Database Scripting Gateways

[Sitting Penguin] This page reviews SQL web scripting languages for Gnu/Linux.

Once upon a time (circa 1995), this was a clean, well-defined category in itself. Today (circa 2000), after the web explosion, things have gotten murky, mostly because there has been a paradigm shift in thinking about the web. Once upon a time, there was a clean distinction between web authoring tools, Rapid Application Development (RAD) tools, and web-to-database gateways. These days, the edges of these systems have merged and overflowed onto one-another. The paradigm shift is that of "Content Management Systems": systems that allow one to publish web sites, maintain interactive communities, and design interactive, data-driven web sites, all of these backed by a powerful database, usually SQL-based.

The paradigm is continuing to shift. People are realizing that web interfaces alone are not that pretty, and suffer from slow response times; whereas the pretty desktop apps are almost never network-aware. This realization is driving efforts such as the Microsoft .net strategy, and the cross-over can be seen in some of the tools below.

This web page is still organized along the lines of the pre-paradigm-shift way about thinking about the web. Thus, it is inherently incomplete and lop-sided in its treatment. Important systems, such as Zope, the Ars Digita Community System, Slashcode (Slashdot), PHPNuke, and many others are not mentioned, even though they should dominate the discussion of web content management systems. Thus, the web side of this page lists primarily the older systems that focused on SQL-to-web interfaces and web-based scripting languages. I believe this page still provides useful references, but you may want to cast your net in other directions as well, if you are looking for tools to build interactive, database-backed web sites.

See Also:

Web to Database Gateways

The entire field of web to database gateways has transformed and gone through several paradigm shifts since 1995. Originally, such gateways were specialized tools that made it easy to create web-based forms that queried SQL back-ends. These days (year 2000), virtually all web tools of any stripe provide SQL connectivity of one sort or another.

Dominating the field these days are scripting languages and full-fledged programming languages that have been tailored for web page creation. These are now referred to as "Content Management Systems"; the market and mindshare leaders are Zope, PHP, and Java.

As a result, the category of "web to database gateways" is rather vestigial, and not really applicable much more in the modern sense. The list is maintained here for historical purposes.

See also:

Open Source and Free Web Interfaces

Below, a taste of some of the free web interfaces out there. Not an exhaustive list.

The PHP (formerly PHP/FI) server-side html-embedded scripting language is wildly popular on the net. More popular than Microsoft's Active Server pages, or Java's JSP's, it is the market leader for creating interactive web sites. The language provides bindings to virtually all SQL databases: mSQL, mysql, Postgres, SOLID, Interbase, Adabas, Sybase, Oracle, DBM and more. Runs on Linux, W95 and NT.

See the Roxen listing below ... portions of Roxen are non-commercial, GPL'ed.

ePerl is tool to embed Perl directly into web pages. Unlike cgi-bins written in perl, embedding reverses the relationship between the HTML and the interpreter, giving the HTML the driver's seat in the page description. The embedding markup is similar to PHP (described below) but rather than being a perl look-alike, it's the real thing: it fires up the Perl interpreter to do the work. This means that the full set of Perl modules, including all the modules for database access, are available to the programmer. Now available as a mod_eperl module for Apache.

AOLServer is a full-fledged, high-performance web server. It sports ADP -- AOL Dynamic Pages, which allow Tcl scripts to be embedded into HTML pages. Provides interfaces to SOLID, and a programming API for adding other databases.

The Easily Adjustable Response Program (EARP v2.0) is a cute visual design system for creating web-to-SQL interfaces. The author claims that EARP2 is being created on Linux, although the screen shots bear a very distinct Windows Logo. Fascinating!

The dbengine SQL to WWW interface. Rather than requiring you to learn a 4GL or other custom language, dbengine only requires that you describe your tables and fields. It then automatically creates the HTML needed to query the database. For those who need more power & function, dbengine uses perl as it's native "4GL". Currently runs only on Postgres.

The AppGen SQL schema to cgi-bin application generator. AppGen is a 4GL (4th Generation Language) for producing WWW based applications. Includes the dbf2sql utility for converting dBase III compatible files to SQL. Currently runs only on Postgres.

dbedit is a schema-based application generator, where the schema is the HTML form itself. dbedit is a set of perl scripts that analyze an HTML form to produce a cgi-wrapper for querying and displaying the resulting data. Currently only supports /rdb.

Merle/MUMPS is a scripting language designed for interfacing medical records to web pages.

The WDB Web Database Interface. An interpreter creates both the HTML forms, and the SQL statements to be executed, from a set of form definition files. One of the early web-database gateways. Supports Sybase, Informix, mSQL, PostgresSQL.

The Web/Genera Web-to-Sybase interface. Uses a schema language that is interpreted to create both the HTML and the SQL queries on the fly.

The GSQL Mosaic-SQL gateway is very old (1993) and I believe it is the first web-SQL gateway ever. Uses a schema language that is interpreted to create both the HTML and the SQL queries on the fly. At one point, very popular & dominated the very very first interactive web sites ever (circa 1993/1994) .

SQLGate Hypertext with Embedded SQL is a server-side html-embedded scripting language allowing SQL statements to be inserted into HTML. The original author, Fritz Barnes, has contacted me to state that SQLGate is no longer maintained.

Commercial Web Database Gateways & Interfaces

Most things in the list below appear to be a server-side html-embedded scripting languages. It seems that the schema-based approach used in the early days of web-database gateways has been abandoned, probably due to the limited artwork/appearance capabilities of schema systems.

One exception is WebKit, which instead extends a 4GL so that web cgi-bins can be more easily created in the 4GL.

Escapade (New Listing!)
Escapade is a simple web scripting language. Commercial license, free evaluation. Beta (version 0.2). Provides support for MySQL only.

Roxen Challanger
The Roxen Challenger recently won a Best of Comdex award for its features & functions. At its core, its a secure (SSL-enabled) web server, with significant infrastructure to provide gateway capabilities. The RXML markup language provides strong control over document generation on the server side. The core Pike module supports connectivity to a variety of SQL databases. The core is (L??)GPL'ed, some modules are available only as commercial add-ons.

Texis Wegbscript
Texis WebScript / Vortex from Thunderstone is a server-side html-embedded scripting language. Supports Thunderstone's Texis SQL database. As one of many demos they have indexed RedHat's man pages & web site

Talentsoft Web+
Talentsoft offers Web+ -- a server-side, html-embedded scripting language.

NeoWebScript from NeoSoft is a server-side, html-embedded scripting language. Implemented as a module for the Apache web server. allowing Tcl/Tk top be embedded in web pages. Free for non-commercial and certain commercial use. Note also that Tcl/Tk seems to be moving uptown ... see SunScript.

Heitml Extended Interactive HTML
Heitml Extended Interactive HTML (European site) (US site) is a server-side, html-embedded scripting language. Supports sessions (server-side state). Support for Yard, mSQL, MySQL, Postgres95, ODBC. Runs on multiple Unix's, NT, W95. Shareware, free for non-commercial use, license required for commercial use.

HTMLscript is a server-side, html-embedded scripting language.

SQLWeb from JustLogic -- a server-side, html-embedded scripting language. Don't confuse with other products called "WebSQL" or "SQLWeb" (which see above & below).

Applied Information Technologies offers SQLweb -- a server-side, html-embedded scripting language. Don't confuse with other products called "WebSQL" or "SQLWeb" (which see above & below).

YARD offers a WebSQL Demo Not sure what this is. Don't confuse with other products called "WebSQL" or "SQLWeb" (which see above & below).

DataWEB from Empress -- a server-side, html-embedded scripting language.

Empress has a freeware copy of an earlier version of the above. Try the following links:

WebKit from WorkGroup Solutions provides a set of extensions to the Clipper language to allow the easy development of cgi-bins within the Clipper, dBase, FlagShip environment.

W3-Gateway für LNX-DBMS Diese Software ermöglicht die direkte Einbettung von beliebigen LNX SQL Statements in HTML Dokumente. Die Inhalte der HTML Seiten ändern sich dynamisch, d.h. Änderungen am DBMS werden sofort sichtbar im HTML Dokument.

WWW-Anbindung Für das professionelle Datenbank-Managementsystem LNX - es liegt seit der Version 4.2 unseren Linux-Paketen bei - gibt es jetzt eine komfortable HTML/WWW-Schnittstelle.

Sie ermöglicht es, über das WWW und HTML-Seiten beliebige SQL-Befehle auszuführen. Auch Änderungen der Datenbankinhalte (z.B. Preislisten) lassen sich direkt und automatisch ins HTML-Dokument übernehmen. Die Inhalte der HTML-Dokumente ändern sich sozusagen dynamisch - eine ideale Lösung, wenn per Internet abgefragte Daten immer aktuell sein müssen.

Last Updated September 2001 by Linas Vepstas
Copyright (c) 1996-2001 Linas Vepstas. All rights reserved. All trademarks belong to their respective owners.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included at the URL, the web page titled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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