Database — FAQ's

How large a network will 4th Quarter support?

What are the requirements for establishing and maintaining a network database?

What backup and administration tools are available to ensure the safety of the database?

Can data from 4th Quarter be accessed by web browsers over the Internet or over a modem?

What kinds of add-on products does 4th Quarter support?

Can 4Q exchange data with other systems?

Is 4Q an SQL-based system?


— How large a network will 4th Quarter® support?

4D Server is designed to support medium sized intranet and Internet network. Simultaneous connections with 50 to 150 users can easily be supported. Larger systems can be supported with careful management of server loading and network services.

4th Quarter is relatively network intensive. This means that it will take fewer accounting users in a 4th Quarter system to tax the system.

However, in most systems there are few accounting users. Most users are either entering sales and purchase information, or creating reports from existing data. In these cases the limiting factor on the size of the system is the system load imposed by the preponderance of users who are not accessing the accounting. Each system will be different.

— What are the requirements for establishing and maintaining a network database?

Network database systems should have one person who provides part or full-time network administration. The tasks of the administrator include:

  • Managing current users, user passwords, and group membership.
  • Training new users.
  • Setting up and maintaining the system.
  • Configuring the system's default values.
  • Monitoring network load and data integrity.
  • Performing periodic backup operations of data file.
  • Maintaining client systems by ensuring that they are all running compatible software.

A 4D programmer is not required to run 4D Server or the 4th Quarter Accounting application. If you have a 4D programmer either on-staff or part time, then they can help with application specific aspects of network administration. However, a programmer is not an administrator, and a programmer is normally not trained to in keeping the "big picture" in view.

Responsible network administration is the keystone to the successful operation of a networked database system.

— What backup and administration tools are available to ensure the safety of the database?

Network data backup is provided through the use of a combination of two systems. The first is 4D Backup which is provided as a component of the 4D Server application. 4D Backup is a separate application that runs at predetermined times to maintain an incremental backup of the data file. Your database or network administrator must install and configure 4D Backup and they will normally set it to run once each day.

4D Server works in conjunction with 4D Backup to produce a log file of all changes made to the data file since 4D Backup has last backed up the data file. This log file is continuously and automatically updated by 4D Server to record each change made to the data file when those changes are made.

Finally, complete backup also requires the use of one of the file backup systems such as Retrospect from Dantz Software. This software, and applications like it, will search each hard disk of computers on the network and create a backup version of any software that has been added or modified since the last backup.

Note that the 4D data file, by virtue of it's large size, is normally excluded from the list of files that are updated daily by the network backup software. Backup of the data file is handled exclusively by the 4D Backup application.

— Can data from 4th Quarter be accessed by web browsers over the Internet or over a modem?

4D does support dial-in and Internet access. However, the current versions of 4th Quarter have been optimized for Internet use.

Browser access to the 4D data file can be effected through the creation of html-based forms that are served to browser clients by 4D Server. The current versions of 4th Quarter do not provide any html-based screen. They can be added for an additional charge as a custom option. Contact Braided Matrix for more details.

— What kinds of add-on products does 4th Quarter support?

4th Quarter supports all of the tools available to 4D developers. Add on tools can be classified according to whether they do or do not rely on access to the application's source code. 4th Quarter supports both kinds of tools.

Tools that do not require source code access include:

  • Active 4D HTML data base programming language.
  • Crystal Reports report generator from Symantec.
  • ODBC-based tools that provide direct access to the 4D data file.

Tools that require source code access include all 4D Plug-ins. Some of the many functions provided by these plug-in's are:

Spreadsheet: 4D Calc allows you to add programmable spreadsheets that draw directly from the data file

Word Processor: 4D Write as well as other third party editors enable you to embed a programmable word processor directly into the application.

Drawing Program: 4D Draw provides a programmable, object-oriented drawing environment that can be linked to or stored in the data file.

HTML Servers: several browser-based editors and data servers can be embedded in or used in conjunction with 4th Dimension to facilitate browser access of 4th Quarter data over the Internet.

There are a variety of other third-party plug-ins that support peripheral devices, expand native 4th Dimension functionality, and provide easily implemented data services. Contact Braided Matrix or ACIUS if you are interested in particular functions that have not been mentioned here.

— Can 4Q exchange data with other systems?

Other systems can draw data out of the 4Q database if they support the standard communication protocols that are built into 4Q, such as ODBC, SOAP, and XML. And 4Q can be programmed to query or modify the data that resides in other applications using these same tools.

— Is 4Q an SQL-based system?

SQL (Structured Query Language) is the defacto programming language understood by large databases. SQL systems yield high performance at the cost of being complex, fragile, and difficult to maintain. They are inappropriate for middle-sized businesses.

SQL systems are marketed to the middle market by vendors who want to extend the profitability of their large and aging SQL products. These vendors know that the installation of an SQL system requires the creation of an IS department inside of your company, and that this department will be committed to further technology purchases.

In contrast, 4Q does not require an IS department. 4th Quarter gives you greater power to build a system that fits your needs. And the 4th Quarter database environment (4D) has been shown to be half as expensive to own and maintain (cf. 4D Embedded Database Cost of Ownership Study).

4Q is compatible with and can communicate with SQL systems. At the same time 4Q integrates new technologies available to it by virtue of its not being an SQL-based system.

If you have a question that has not been answered, please contact us.

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