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Minisoft ODBC

ODBC version

FAX 360.568.2923
Email: sales@minisoft.com
Web: www.minisoft.com
includes the 3000-based server software and the ODBC driver that is required for the client PCs. It provides 32-bit ODBC driver support from Windows 95 and Windows NT applications. ODBC/32 requires a network TCP/IP connection
ODBC/32 for the 
HP 3000
runs on all HP 3000 Series 900s, MPE/iX 4.0 or later. The software is tier-based ranging from $1,995 to $3,995. Discounts are available for multiple CPUs. Support is 20 percent of the purchase price per year and includes phone in, electronic support and new releases of the software. All prices are in US dollars.


ODBC/32 speeds 
client- server connections

Native access for IMAGE, KSAM and MPE
comes with good speed, fast setup.


Review by Shawn Gordon

Do you want to be able to build client-server applications quickly? Not only build them quickly, but have them execute quickly? If so, then ODBC/32 is for you. What ODBC/32 does is give you native access to the IMAGE part of IMAGE/SQL, as well as KSAM and MPE files as ODBC data sources. Unlike some other ODBC solutions available for the HP 3000, ODBC/32 doesn’t make you configure any Allbase tables to present the views of the IMAGE/SQL database.

How does it work?

The Minisoft ODBC driver works like pretty much any other ODBC driver on your PC. You go into the Control Panel and define a data source using the ODBC/32 driver (See Figure 1). All of your connection information is defined here so that your application doesn’t have to worry about it. The ODBC/32 driver knows how to read all the IMAGE information directly, so in your program you will get a pick list of sets and items.

Figure 2 shows an example of this working with Fujitsu’s PowerCobol (covered in Inside COBOL this month).

If the database is not defined nicely – in other words, using generic buffers that are defined in copylibs or dictionaries – then you have to spend a little time in the Schema Editor to define it, just as you would for the MPE or KSAM files. See Figure 3 for an example of the the Schema Editor’s interface.


Once you have set up your HP 3000-based data source and configured a schema file for it if you need to, you are able to use it from any tested ODBC-compliant Windows program. If a schema file is defined for a data source, then you need to specify it in the ODBC configuration program. That way the defined data source is presented to you when you access it.

ODBC/32 fully supports the HP 3000 TPI (Third Party Indexing) Interface, as well as the recently-released IMAGE b-trees, and it appears to be nicely optimized to take advantage of them. You also get to deal directly with KSAM and MPE files as though they were databases. ODBC/32 will make use of the the KSAM keys if it can – but an MPE file will, of course, always be a serial read, because there is no key structure to it.

Installation and Documentation

You can either download the demo from the web, have Minisoft e-mail it to you, or have them send you an actual set of diskettes and tape. The installation is in two parts. First you have to install the server software on the HP side and launch the background listener job. The second part is installing the ODBC driver on each PC client. Fortunately, Minisoft sells its software as server-based, so you can make as many copies of the client software as you want.

The documentation is very clear and concise, with plenty of examples using various tools such as Crystal Reports, Visual Basic, InQuizitive and PowerBuilder to name a few. I had no trouble installing, configuring and using the driver. You shouldn’t either.

The TestDrive

This was really kind of fun to test. I spent a total of one hour installing the ODBC/32 driver, installing Fujitsu’s PowerCobol, and writing my first PowerCobol program using an HP 3000-based data source through the driver. I then used my little client program to populate the data set with all the information. I tried it with some other products as well, such as Clarion, VB, Delphi and Crystal Reports.

Crystal Reports was also a piece of cake. It took about three minutes to create a default report against my IMAGE-based data. For some reason VB and Delphi make the process rather complex, but I was able to easily retrieve the database structural information in the Delphi Database Explorer.


The performance of ODBC/32 is nothing short of amazing. I was able to read, delete, and update pretty much instantly. For a database that is nicely defined it takes only a minute to set it up for ODBC access.

I have several items I would like to see added to the product to really round it out. One is the ability to configure a security matrix for what and how data can be accessed. It is quite likely that you would want to distribute the same program to multiple people who had their update access disabled. You could control this in the program, but I would have liked to have seen an external access control mechanism.

Another area would be a debug/trace facility that would allow you to see what kind of SQL statements are getting generated and their equivalent IMAGE calls. I can see how this would help you fine tune your application, otherwise it’s sort of a black box thing. To be fair, I haven’t seen any other ODBC driver include this either.

The only other caution I would pass along – and I believe this is true of any ODBC driver – is that this is a data access control method, period. You can’t access custom servers, or the CI at all. If you want to do that, then you should look at the MiddleMan product from Minisoft instead.

By the time you read this Minisoft should have released support for reading the definition from a Quiz sub-file, and possibly support a PowerHouse Dictionary file. ODBC/32 is a very nice solution, and much easier to work with than the HP-supplied ODBCLink SE solution. If you are giving any thought at all about maybe letting your users create their own reports, then pull down a demo from the Minisoft Web site, and get a copy of Crystal Reports and go.

Shawn Gordon, whose S.M. Gordon & Associates firm supplies HP 3000 utilities, has worked with 3000s since 1983.


Copyright 1998, The 3000 NewsWire. All rights reserved.



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