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Jackcess 2.0

I'm Scared!

Step back from the keyboard and take a moment to catch your breath. I know the idea of upgrading to a new major version of a software project can be a bit daunting. A completely re-written library means a whole new set of bugs to work through! Rest assured, however, the changes from Jackcess 1.x to 2.x are largely cosmetic! The core code is functionally unchanged, just shuffled around and tweaked. So, once an existing project has been updated for the new API, things should work pretty much the same as they did before (for better or worse!). That begs the question, of course, why mess everything up in the first place?

Why rock the boat?

The Jackcess project is over 8 years old at this point, and as any developer knows, projects tend to accumulate cruft over the years. The available functionality has grown dramatically from the initial release while still retaining binary compatibility across most releases. This has been quite an effort and, unfortunately, has caused the API to become a bit unwieldy. The 2.x release is an attempt to rework the API to make it both more approachable for new users as well as more convenient for power users.

While an initial compile of existing code against the new 2.x API may generate a fair bit of compile warnings, many of the changes are fairly superficial (e.g. classes moving to new packages). All of the changes that were made were made in an attempt to make the API more useable and to follow API design best practices. Change for the sake of change was avoided (e.g. just "prettying" up existing method names).

So what changed?

Functionally speaking, Jackcess is largely unchanged. The core codebase is largely the same, just re-arranged. The only major changes regarding functionality are:

  • "Simple" index support has been removed.
    • In older releases, Jackcess did not fully understand how indexes worked. When that functionality was fully grasped, "big" index support was added, but the "simple" support was left as the default for backwards compatibility. In later releases, after the "big" index support was stabilized, it became the default. Now, there really isn't any reason to keep the old, broken support.
  • Foreign Key constraints are now enforced by default.
    • Similarly, foreign key constraints were only recently understood by jackess. For backwards compatibility, enforcement was not made the default. This tends to confuse new users, as the general expectation of a database is that it will enforce constraints (unless told otherwise). Unlike "simple" index support (which was removed completely), foreign key constraint enforcement can still be disabled.

The remaining changes are largely cosmetic or just slightly different (hopefully better) ways to do the same things. Among these changes, the major ones are:

  • The public API classes are now primarily interfaces.
    • Making the primary API classes interfaces allows more flexibility in the implementation without affecting the API. It also makes a more clear distinction between methods that are intended to be used externally and those that are intended for internal use. This makes the API much more approachable for new users.
    • Note that there are some "advanced" methods which may be useful to the occassional power user which are no longer available from the public API. These methods, however, are still available on the implementation classes.
  • Most instance construction is now handled via builder classes.
    • Since the public API is now primarily interfaces, some sort of factory type class is necessary to construct the relevant implementations. These new factory classes follow the builder pattern which is a very convenient programming style which has the secondary benefit of removing the need for complex constructors with many parameters.
  • The various (and confusing) methods for constructing Iterables have been replaced by an Iterable builder.
    • There were a variety of methods on the Cursors for constructing different Iterable/Iterator instances with different options. These have all been combined into a single Iterable builder class which is both easier and more convenient to work with.
  • Many secondary "utility" classes were moved to the "util" package.
    • As part of making the API more approachable to new users, many of the secondary classes were moved to the "util" package. This makes the primary API more obvious.
  • A row is now a Row.
    • A row of data, previously typed as a Map<String,Object>, is now explicitly typed as a Row. This makes code much more readable as well as allows for additional functionality beyond the basic Map. Since the Row interface extends Map<String,Object>, old code can remain largely untouched.
  • Attachment.getFileData now returns the "real" data.
    • Previously, this method returned the internal representation of the attachment data, which included a wrapper and the data in a possibly compressed form. Now that the internal format has been deciphered, this method has been changed to return the actual attachment content (which is most likely what people would desire from that method in the first place). The internal representation can be retrieved from Attachment.getEncodedFileData if necessary.

Working with Jackcess Encrypt

If you are using the Jackcess Encrypt project, then you will need to use a version compatible with the relevant Jackess API. Fortunately, the major versions match, so it's pretty simple:

  • Jackcess 2.x -> Jackcess Encrypt 2.y
  • Jackcess 1.x -> Jackcess Encrypt 1.y

What does this mean for 1.x?

Moving forward, all new feature development will be in Jackcess 2.x. The Jackcess 1.x code has been branched at version 1.2.14 and some bugfixes may be backported to that branch on a case by case basis. However, no new feature development will be done on the 1.x branch.

What did we miss?

This upgrade guide attempts to hit all the high-points for upgrading from Jackcess 1.x to 2.x. If you feel that it is incorrect or missing a key bit of information, please, drop us a line!

Some additional notes from a migration effort.