Delve into database files with CDBF

DBF files, used by dBase (remember dBase?), FoxPro, and many other programming applications, are one of the great 'legacy' database formats. Although many newer applications store data in other ways, there are still plenty of DBFs around. After all, the DBF format is well documented, compact, and very easy to generate from within almost any program. However, working with the files when you don't have a full-on DBF database can be a problem--I can tell you, from painful experience, that Excel's "built in" support for the format is, let us say, lacking. So enter CDBF.

This $40 full-featured tool can open and edit DBF files, doing almost anything you might reasonably want to do. In addition to simply viewing the data, you can add or delete rows, change the table structure, filter, sort, and search. A memo field viewer is included so you can look at long text fields. You can compare tables, export data to a new file, and so on.

Flaws? A few minor ones. The filter function does not support parentheticals, i.e, "a AND b OR (b AND c)". Further, the trial works for only ten minutes at a go, which can be frustrating if you try to use it for anything but a simple trial. There wasn't much else I wanted to do that I couldn't. Of course, since the program is working with raw data outside of the framework of an application which enforces business rules, it is easy for a user to input incorrect data which, if re-imported into an application, could cause havoc--but that's really not the fault of the program.

Who is CDBF for? Anyone who has to work with DBF files outside of the application which created them. This may include database programmers, but many companies use the DBF format for banking, accounting, or sales data, and will send just these files--and not the custom, internal, applications used to create them--to their business partners.

If you regularly work with DBF files, CDBF is worth checking out.

This story, "Delve into database files with CDBF" was originally published by PCWorld.

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