How Object Oriented Databases Add Value To Business Operations

Object Oriented Databases

In the ever-changing world of data management and storage, databases are essential for effectively organizing, storing, and retrieving data.

Traditional Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) often struggle with modern object-based data complexity. Businesses now need a different database platform for smooth data manipulation.

As a result, object oriented databases (OODBs) emerged as a powerful alternative for handling objects as data models.
OODBs offer a more user-friendly way of working with data by fusing object-oriented programming concepts with database technology.

The object oriented database model treats data as objects and allows a more appreciated modeling of real-world problems than RDBMS, which stores data in tables and manipulates it using Structured Query Language (SQL).

This post’ll go into Object Oriented Databases and describe the main characteristics, benefits, and application cases. Additionally, we will contrast OODBs with conventional RDBMS and look at real-world instances of popular OODB implementations.

Table of Content

Understanding Object Oriented Databases

Object Oriented Databases (OODBs) store and retrieve data as objects. The object oriented database model supports all principles and concepts of object oriented programming (OOP).

An object oriented database management system (OODBMS) manages an object database. The object database combines relational database principles with ideas from object-oriented programming.

Objects are the fundamental component of a data model and an instance of a class that gives objects a behavior-defining schema or blueprint. A class’s methods control its actions, while pointers make it easy to move and connect objects in an object database.

The key principles of object-oriented databases include encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism.
Encapsulation ensures that the data and methods associated with an object are packaged together, providing data integrity and security.

Inheritance enables the creation of new objects based on existing ones, promoting code reusability and extensibility.

Polymorphism allows objects of different classes to be treated uniformly, providing flexibility and modularity.

object oriented database example

The Anatomy of a Typical Object Oriented Database

Here’s an overview of the significant components within an object oriented database:

Objects and Classes

  • Objects, which are instances of classes in OOP, are how OODBs store data.
  • Objects combine data (attributes) and behavior (methods) in a single entity.
  • Classes define objects’ structure, behavior, and relationships, forming a blueprint for the objects.

Persistence

  • OODBs offer mechanisms for objects to persist, enabling their storage and retrieval from the database.
  • Objects can maintain their state between different program executions.

Inheritance

  • The system or the users can create subclasses that take on traits and behaviors from a superclass.
  • Inheritance hierarchies can be modeled and stored in the database.

Complex Data Structures

  • OODBs can directly handle complex data structures.
  • Objects can have relationships with other objects, representing associations, aggregations, or compositions.
  • Graph-like structures can be represented and stored as objects, enabling rich data modeling.

Querying

  • Object Query Languages (OQL) are used to retrieve data from OODBs.
  • OQL provides a powerful syntax for querying and navigating object relationships.
  • Queries can leverage the object-oriented nature of the database and can build complex relationships and operations.

Performance

  • OODBs can provide high-performance data access due to their object-oriented nature.
  • Direct access to objects and their relationships can eliminate the need for complex joins typically required in relational databases.
  • OODBs are well-suited for scenarios with complex data structures and rich object relationships.

Integration with Programming Languages

  • OODBs seamlessly integrate with programming languages that support object-oriented programming.
  • Objects in the database can be manipulated using the same logic and processes as in-program objects.

Popular Object Oriented Databases on the Market

Some popular examples of object oriented databases include Versant Object Database, ObjectDB, db4o, and Zope Object Database (ZODB).

These databases provide a natural and efficient way to store and retrieve complex, interconnected data. They are beneficial in scenarios where the data model closely aligns with object-oriented programming concepts and where the benefits of direct object manipulation outweigh the complexities of relational data modeling.

Object-Oriented Database Features

After that detailed introduction, let’s look at some of the features of these databases:

Feature Description
Query Language OODBMS uses OQL to find and retrieve data from the database and enable users to query the database. 
Transparent Persistence Allows an object-oriented programming language to manipulate data in the database.
ACID Transactions ACID transactions ensure that all database transactions are complete. This prevents conflicts arising from changes to data in a multi-user situation. 
Database Caching Creates a partial replica of the database in the system’s memory, which is significantly faster than disk access.
Recovery Ensures disaster recovery in case of application or system failure. These processes also safeguard data integrity.

An Introduction to Object Oriented Database Management System

An object oriented database management system (OODBMS) is a software system that provides the tools and capabilities to manage object oriented databases.

It serves as an intermediary between users or applications and the underlying database, facilitating storing, retrieving, and manipulating data stored in an object-oriented format.

An OODBMS extends the functionality of a traditional database management system (DBMS) to support storing and managing objects as primary data units. It incorporates the principles and concepts of object-oriented programming and data modeling into the database management process.

Features of an OODBMS

The key features of an OODBMS include:

Object Persistence

An OODBMS ensures that objects can be stored and retrieved from the database, preserving their state and structure even after the application or system is terminated.
Object persistence enables long-term data storage and object reusability.

Object Identity

Each object in an OODBMS has a unique identifier that allows for precise identification and manipulation. This identity remains consistent even if the object’s state or location changes.

Object Relationships

An OODBMS supports the establishment and management of relationships between objects. It allows for associations, aggregations, and inheritance hierarchies, enabling complex data modeling and navigation.

Query and Manipulation

OODBMS provides query languages and APIs that allow users and applications to retrieve and manipulate objects stored in the database. These tools often incorporate object-oriented concepts like inheritance and polymorphism to facilitate robust and flexible querying capabilities.

Concurrency Control and Transaction Management

OODBMS ensures data consistency and integrity by providing concurrent access and transaction management mechanisms. It allows multiple users or processes to work on the database simultaneously while preserving data integrity.

OODBMSs are particularly useful when data is inherently object-oriented or complex relationships exist between objects. They find applications in domains such as scientific research, engineering, computer-aided design, multimedia, and other areas that require flexible and efficient management of complex data structures.

Some Examples of Object-Oriented Database

Object oriented databases have become very popular in multiple industries because of the features we discussed in the previous sections. We’ll now discuss some very recognizable examples of these databases so that you can have a fair idea of how these databases operate.

GemStone/S

Based on Smalltalk, an object-oriented programming language influenced by Java, GemStone/S is an object database system.

GemStone/S offers excellent integration with Smalltalk applications, and many experts consider them a good fit for Smalltalk projects.

Depending on the size of the project, GemStone/S is available in several licensing options. Its database server supports various operating systems, including Linux, Windows, macOS, Solaris, AIX, and Raspberry Pi..

ObjectDB

ObjectDB is a NoSQL object database for Java. In contrast to other NoSQL databases, ObjectDB complies with ACID standards. While ObjectDB lacks a native API, developers can choose from one of the following Java database APIs included with the package:

  • JPA with JPA Query Language (JPQL) based on Java syntax.
  • JDO with JDO Query Language (JDQL) based on SQL syntax.

ObjectDB supports all Java’s fundamental data types, user-defined classes, and common Java collections, and each object gets a unique ID.

The maximum database capacity (128 TB) is the only restriction on the number of items. Cross-platform compatibility and high benchmark performance are two other reasons behind ObjectDB’s popularity.

ObjectDatabase++

For server-side applications, ObjectDatabase++ is a real-time embeddable object database. A nice benefit of using ObjectDatabase++ is that there is no need for external upkeep.
ObjectDatabase++ supports:

  • Multi-process with multi-threaded server applications.
  • Full transaction control.
  • Real-time recovery.
  • C+- related languages, VB.NET, and C#.

As you can probably guess, ObjectDatabase++ is built using C++. Advanced auto-recovery from system crashes without sacrificing database integrity is one of the key features.

Objectivity/DB

By utilizing the power of objects, Objectivity/DB takes care of the intricate demands of Big Data projects. The object database is adaptable and supports a variety of languages, including:

  • C++
  • C#
  • Python
  • Java

Objectivity/DB supports real-time queries against any data type because of the dynamic schema modifications that take place without requiring any downtime. OS compatibility is another excellent feature, with macOS, Linux, Windows, and Unix support.

ObjectStore

ObjectStore offers memory persistence that ensures excellent speed when coupled with the speed of C++ or Java.

The object database complies with ACID. Thanks to the platform’s responsiveness, developers can create cross-platform distributed apps on-premises or in the cloud.
The major characteristic is database access from anywhere and rapid scalability, thanks to the in-cloud deployment. The process of creating and exchanging data is seamless.

Versant

Versant is well-known for transparent object persistence. It is compatible with programming languages like C++, Java,.NET, Python, and Smalltalk.

Depending on the language, Versant provides several APIs. Versant is a NoSQL database because it also supports conventional SQL queries. The object database is a client-server database that supports multiple users.

Object Oriented Databases vs Relational Databases

Object Oriented Databases vs Relational Databases

Object-Oriented Databases (OODBs) and Relational Databases (RDBMS) are two distinct types of database management systems. Here’s a comparison between the two:

Data Model

  • RDBMS: Relational databases organize data into tables with rows and columns, following a structured, tabular model.
  • OODBs: Object oriented databases store data as objects, representing instances of classes with attributes and behavior.

Data Relationships

  • RDBMS: Relational databases establish relationships between tables using primary and foreign keys representing entities’ associations.
  • OODBs: Object oriented databases model relationships between objects, allowing for complex associations, aggregations, and compositions.

Schema

  • RDBMS: Relational databases require a predefined schema that specifies the structure and relationships of tables.
  • OODBs: Object-oriented databases have a flexible schema that allows objects to evolve dynamically without rigid constraints.

Querying

  • RDBMS: Relational databases use Structured Query Language (SQL) for querying and manipulating data. The focus is on set-based operations and joins.
  • OODBs: Object-oriented databases use Object Query Languages (OQL) that leverage the object-oriented nature of the database. This allows for rich querying of object relationships.

Data Integrity

  • RDBMS: Relational databases enforce data integrity with constraints, such as primary key constraints and referential integrity.
  • OODBs: Object-oriented databases typically rely on the application code to enforce data integrity and business rules.

Performance

  • RDBMS: Relational databases handle structured data and perform complex joins efficiently, making them suitable for large-scale data management through complex queries.
  • OODBs: Object oriented databases provide high-performance access to complex, interconnected data structures. These databases eliminate the need for complex joins and allow direct object manipulation.

Scalability

Application Use Case

  • RDBMS: Relational databases are widely used in applications with structured data and predefined schemas, such as transactional systems and reporting applications.
  • OODBs: Object oriented databases are suitable for applications with complex data structures, rich object relationships, and a need for direct object manipulation, such as modeling real-world objects or complex scientific data.
    It’s important to note that the choice between OODBs and RDBMS depends on various factors, including the nature of the data, the application requirements, and the trade-offs between flexibility, performance, and scalability.

Object Oriented Database Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages
Compared to MySQL data types, these databases support complex data types.
Data is immediately retrieved and saved easily.
Interaction with object-oriented programming languages without an issue.
Complex real-world problems are simpler to represent.
Scalable with unique data types.
Disadvantages
Less frequently used than relational databases.
No global data model exists. Deficient in theoretical norms and grounds.
Does not support any views.
Complicated problems affect performance.
There is a shortage of a suitable security system and access privileges to items.

Conclusion

Object-oriented databases provide a flexible and efficient solution for handling complex data structures and relationships.

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FAQ’s

Q: What is an object oriented database?

A: An object oriented database is a type of database management system that stores and manages data using object-oriented principles. It allows the storage of complex data types and supports relationships between objects.

Q: How does an object-oriented database differ from a relational database?

A: Unlike relational databases that store data in tables with fixed schemas, object-oriented databases store data as objects with attributes and behaviors. This allows for more flexible and dynamic data modeling.

Q: What are the advantages of using an object-oriented database?

A: These databases deliver capable handling of diverse data types, efficient data retrieval, seamless integration with object-oriented programming languages, and the ability to model complex real-world problems.

Q: Are object-oriented databases widely adopted?

A: Object-oriented databases are not as widely adopted as relational databases. Relational databases have been the dominant choice for many applications due to their maturity, standardized querying language (SQL), and wide industry support.

Q: What are the limitations of object-oriented databases?

A: Object-oriented databases lack a universal data model and standardized foundations. In addition, they do not support views and can face performance issues due to their inherent complexity. Security mechanisms and access rights may also be inadequate for some applications.

Q: When should I consider using an object-oriented database?

A: Object-oriented databases are valuable in scenarios where complex data structures, relationships, and dynamic data modeling are essential. They are commonly used in multimedia, scientific research, and engineering domains.

Q: Can object-oriented databases work alongside relational databases?

A: Yes, it is possible to use object-oriented databases alongside relational databases. This approach is often referred to as object-relational mapping (ORM), where the object-oriented model is mapped to the relational database schema.

Q: Are there popular object-oriented database management systems available?

A: While object-oriented databases have not gained widespread popularity, notable object-oriented database management systems include db4o, ObjectDB, and ZODB.

Q: What are the considerations when choosing between an object-oriented and relational database?

A: The choice depends on factors such as the complexity of the data, the need for flexible data modeling, the availability of skilled personnel, industry standards, and the specific requirements of the project at hand.