Object oriented databases are also called Object Database Management Systems (ODBMS). Object databases store objects rather than data such as integers, strings or real numbers. Objects are used in object oriented languages such as Smalltalk, C++, Java, and others. Objects basically consist of the following:
- Attributes – Attributes are data which defines the characteristics of an object. This data may be simple such as integers, strings, and real numbers or it may be a reference to a complex object.
- Methods – Methods define the behavior of an object and are what was formally called procedures or functions.
Therefore objects contain both executable code and data. There are other characteristics of objects such as whether methods or data can be accessed from outside the object. We don’t consider this here, to keep the definition simple and to apply it to what an object database is. One other term worth mentioning is classes. Classes are used in object oriented programming to define the data and methods the object will contain. The class is like a template to the object. The class does not itself contain data or methods but defines the data and methods contained in the object. The class is used to create (instantiate) the object. Classes may be used in object databases to recreate parts of the object that may not actually be stored in the database. Methods may not be stored in the database and may be recreated by using a class.
Comparison to Relational Databases
Relational databases store data in tables that are two dimensional. The tables have rows and columns. Relational database tables are “normalized” so data is not repeated more often than necessary. All table columns depend on a primary key (a unique value in the column) to identify the column. Once the specific column is identified, data from one or more rows associated with that column may be obtained or changed.
To put objects into relational databases, they must be described in terms of simple string, integer, or real number data. For instance in the case of an airplane. The wing may be placed in one table with rows and columns describing its dimensions and characteristics. The fusalage may be in another table, the propeller in another table, tires, and so on.
Breaking complex information out into simple data takes time and is labor intensive. Code must be written to accomplish this task.
(Taken from Thinking in Java – Bruce Eckel – www.eckelobjects.com)
As a C++ programmer you already have the basic idea of object-oriented programming, and the syntax of Java no doubt looks very familiar to you. This makes sense since Java was derived from C++. However, there are a surprising number of differences between C++ and Java. These differences are intended to be significant improvements, and if you understand the differences you’ll see why Java is such a beneficial programming language. This section takes you through the important features that make Java distinct from C++.
1. The biggest potential stumbling block is speed: interpreted Java runs something like 20 times slower than C. Nothing prevents the Java language from being compiled and there are just-in-time compilers appearing at this writing which offer significant speed-ups. It is not inconceivable that full native compilers will appear for the more popular platforms, but without those there are classes of problems that will be insoluble with Java because of the speed issue.
If you’ve never used an object-oriented programming language before, you’ll need to learn a few basic concepts before you can begin writing any code. This lesson will introduce you to objects, classes, inheritance, interfaces, and packages. Each discussion focuses on how these concepts relate to the real world, while simultaneously providing an introduction to the syntax of the Java programming language.
An object is a software bundle of related state and behavior. Software objects are often used to model the real-world objects that you find in everyday life. This lesson explains how state and behavior are represented within an object, introduces the concept of data encapsulation, and explains the benefits of designing your software in this manner.
A class is a blueprint or prototype from which objects are created. This section defines a class that models the state and behavior of a real-world object. It intentionally focuses on the basics, showing how even a simple class can cleanly model state and behavior.
Inheritance provides a powerful and natural mechanism for organizing and structuring your software. This section explains how classes inherit state and behavior from their superclasses, and explains how to derive one class from another using the simple syntax provided by the Java programming language.
An interface is a contract between a class and the outside world. When a class implements an interface, it promises to provide the behavior published by that interface. This section defines a simple interface and explains the necessary changes for any class that implements it.
A package is a namespace for organizing classes and interfaces in a logical manner. Placing your code into packages makes large software projects easier to manage. This section explains why this is useful, and introduces you to the Application Programming Interface (API) provided by the Java platform.