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DBF vs SQL limitations, SQL migration and rewriting my whole site?...

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    DBF vs SQL limitations, SQL migration and rewriting my whole site?...

    I have been operating a site hosted by via Zebrahost for over a decade now. I wrote everything via the native DBF database backend included with Alpha. Zebra told me we may be hitting the max capabilities with DBF and need to move to SQL. I only have 3-4 "power users" who are on our site all day long processing back-end stuff. We have users log in and back out throughout the day to post payments and create some quote documents. We work with insurance agents throughout the state and many could be logged in during the day but their terminal just sits idle most of the time unless a client of theirs comes in to make a payment or whatever... this could be 20+ users logged in all day long but little actual activity would be occurring with each.

    Do any of you feel that we are maxing out the DBF capabilities?

    I am worried that this is case because I am the sole programmer for my company - I wrote every line of code... it took 3 years from 2008-11 to get the site started not to mention the thousands of hours of coding since then to improve/update our site...(i also had a FT job back then in addition to coding this originally. Now I code and run the company as well). I am worried that every page, grid, ux, xbasic page will need to be rewritten to work with the SQL DB since all of the operations are different... am I correct in this assumption? I have a ton of xbasic pages written to handle lots of calculations for estimating insurance premiums, APR calculations, creating payment plans etc...

    I see that there is a tool to migrate the DBF to SQL --- i am opposed to paying thousands of $ for MSSQL... I would prefer MySQL since it is free.... am I missing out or limiting myself by going with MySQL over MSSQL?

    I just started writing the code for another sister company I am going to launch and I started this on DBF as well... I am worried that I should start over and go with SQL from the start on that one so I dont run into the same issues...

    I have looked at Alpha documentation a bit with regard to SQL --- any recommendations on where to start or any other sources of knowledge which helped you get going on SQL?

    Thanks guys & gals! This community rocks!

    I'm not very familiar with DBF as I've always used SQL. I'm unsure what it's limitations might be. There is a free version of SQL you can use and it works great for development purposes. When it comes to deployment of your app it's not necessary to spend thousands on a Microsoft SQL Server license. I use Amazon's AWS services and their servers (which can include SQL) are very reasonable. I have several clients that use AWS (along with SQL) and their server cost is under $750 a month.
    Mike Brown - Contact Me
    Programmatic Technologies, LLC
    Independent Developer & Consultant​​


      I strongly suggest converting to mysql. It's faster and more reliable than dbf tables.
      It sounds like you know your data extremely well. For this reason I would suggest not using
      the tool supplied by alpha.

      I would suggest you spend some time determining what you want your database to look like.
      Consider triggers, procedures, functions, and views, not to mention indexes and contstraints.

      Once you have the sql tables in place, and all the data migrated, you have a slew of options,
      including reducing the data in the dbf tables (should improve performance), and the ability to
      continue using your current setup while working towards a complete migration to sql.
      Grid, Dialogs (UXs) and reports are all happy to use sql.

      If you need help with these actions, feel free to reach out to me.
      I currently have projects that use dbfs and mysql.

      Gregg is a great site to test and share sql code


        Beware the appeal of a simple conversion. It only works (ish) on the tables.
        My preferred hosting company is if you are thinking of going fully Web.
        Free trial for 60 days, excellent support, latest version of MSSQL and MYSQL all at your disposal.

        SQLEXPRESS is a freebie you can use on your desktop for trialling your change.
        Works well with Alpha.

        Suggest you check the documentation regarding volumes of data and unrequired files, as that is most likely the issue IMHO.
        See our Hybrid Option here;

        We are the
        Department of Sunshine and Rainbows!

        Hope restored, faith renewed, spirits lifted!


          Ted Giles
          Which are you referring to as the "simple conversion" ?
          I decided to learn sql well enough to write my own code
          because the solution provided by Alpha wouldn't work right
          with my data.
 is a great site to test and share sql code


            The Alpha option to convert to SQL.
            In the CP Menu.
            Last edited by Ted Giles; 04-03-2023, 05:16 PM.
            See our Hybrid Option here;

            We are the
            Department of Sunshine and Rainbows!

            Hope restored, faith renewed, spirits lifted!


              Lots of us went through this conversion. I've done it sevaral times. It is tedious but when you are done, you will be glad you did. Meantime, DO NOT try the Alpha dbf to SQL conversion. I tried that and it isn't a real solution. It is dbf pretending to be SQL by building an additional layer of complexity between your existing dbf tables and your applicaiton. You will just have to make another conversion to get to real SQL. There is no speed advantage.
              I would recommend MySQL or MariaDB. They are easier to use than MSSQL and they follow the SQL standards. I prefer MariaDB because it comes with a database builder/manager called Heidi that will get you started. Then when you are all in you can purchase Navicat which is more full featured and many of us use.
              The good news is, you don't have to convert everything before you can do anything. Dip your toe in the water before you jump all in. You can use dbf and MariaDB at the same. You can start with that new application you are building, or take a portion of your application that uses the same few tables and convert that. When you can do that, then you can expand to the rest of your tables.
              Pat Bremkamp
              MindKicks Consulting


                Heidi is great.
                So is the free version of TOAD.
                Mssql and Mysql versions.

                If you really want to splash some cash,Visual Paradigm is the way.
                ​​​​​​​( Community version helps get your SQL and Logic ducks in a row!)

                See our Hybrid Option here;

                We are the
                Department of Sunshine and Rainbows!

                Hope restored, faith renewed, spirits lifted!


                  Resources to get started. Buy the book MySQL by Paul DuBois. I have the 4th edition from 2009 and I still use it every day. It was written for MySQL but it is also good for MariaDB since those are mostly identical. If you are familiar with "normalization" that is the biggest mindset change from dbf. Get a pad of paper and start laying out your entities. Lets say your insurance is mostly wind and hail damage. Entities will be the home (address, size, roof type), agencies (name address email and phone), agents (name, email, phone, agency, coverage area), home owners (names, phone, text address, insurance agency) and so on.
                  Pat Bremkamp
                  MindKicks Consulting


                    Normalisation is sometimes challenging.
                    High Normalisation makes apps difficult to maintain. Worse case is you use a little extra disk space, so don't get too hung up on it.
                    The free Visual Paradigm will help you a lot with normalisation.

                    See our Hybrid Option here;

                    We are the
                    Department of Sunshine and Rainbows!

                    Hope restored, faith renewed, spirits lifted!


                      If you have any connection to Sharepoint, Azure, Microsoft365, Power Apps, Access or Power Automate I would consider SQL Server or SQL Database( Azure). You can link things together nice.


                        kkfin Do you know if there is a dollar amount to access any of those services you mentioned, and do you have any examples of how to access those services from Alpha Anywhere ?
               is a great site to test and share sql code


                          Originally posted by madtowng View Post
                          kkfin Do you know if there is a dollar amount to access any of those services you mentioned, and do you have any examples of how to access those services from Alpha Anywhere ?
                          I have found that the key Lego to use Alpha with Microsoft365 is the Power Automate with premium connectors so the cost is about 30 per month. Express version of SQL Server is free and I have found it is enough with Alphas performance. SQL Database in Azure with acceptable performance is about 40-70 per month if you need to have hosted managed database.


                            Piling on: yes, switch to SQL sooner, not later. I've done 2 very large transitions - each took 2+ years for two of us to move. Starting on another one right now, and have always started anything new in SQL for many years now. Always worth it.


                              There seems to be a lot of options when you search dbf to SQl converter

                              Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
                              Albert Einstein, (attributed)
                              US (German-born) physicist (1879 - 1955)