VCL Components: Databinding with BDE or FireDAC

Overview

This article describes the different databinding options in the List & Label VCL components and the technologies behind them. He briefly discusses the advantages and disadvantages and gives a glimpse into the future of the VCL components.

BDE (Borland Database Engine)

The Borland Database Engine (BDE) is a universal, now obsolete interface that allows access to databases. It allows to access the data by using native data drivers or ODBC drivers.

Already a few years ago, Embarcadero discontinued further development and further support for the BDE. The BDE is also no longer part of the RAD Studio installations and is only available as a separate download that must be installed manually. Since then, Embaracadero itself recommends a migration of BDE-based applications to a more modern technology such as FireDAC, since the BDE does not even fully support Unicode.

For compatibility reasons, however, we continue to ship the VCL component based on it with List & Label, but have clearly marked it as “deprecated”. When List & Label is installed, it is no longer automatically installed in the RAD Studio IDE and the installation folder …\Samples\Delphi\BDE (Legacy) has also been named accordingly. New or further developments will no longer be pushed in the component, but it will be shipped until further notice.

As an alternative, we offer a modern VCL databinding alternative using FireDAC, which is up to date.

FireDAC

The new VCL component is completely based on the FireDAC technology from Embarcadero in the databinding area, which in comparison to the outdated BDE also brings numerous other advantages for and in List & Label in addition to full Unicode support. The FireDAC component uses the modern data provider interface of List & Label as it is also used in the .NET component:

  • Multiple report containers can be used simultaneously in reports.
  • With nested tables (table in table function) completely new requirements can be implemented.
  • The selection for report parameters can optionally be filled in a data-bound manner.
  • Expandable areas in tables and crosstabs.
  • Interactive sorting in table headers.

More information can also be found in our Reporting Blog under Brand new VCL component for Delphi developers.

Due to the similarity to the List & Label .NET component, the List & Label .NET object ListLabel is directly available as a counterpart as documentation of the FireDAC component.

Future

In the future, further developments and improvements for List & Label will find their way into the FireDAC component. Besides the fact that the sources for the VCL components of List & Label are always installed as well, we have published the project DelphiDataProviders on GitHub, which contains the new FireDAC component. This way, changes to the component can be implemented if necessary and submitted as a pull request, which can then be made available to the community in a timely manner.

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