If you are like a lot of NonStop users, chances are that you have other platforms (like .NET or Java) and databases (e.g. MS SQL Server or Oracle) that you would like your application to interact with. For the past two years, users have enjoyed attending our Tutorial Webinars to learn how our products SOAPam and Attunity Connect can open up the NonStop for better interoperability.
But occasionally, someone would ask: “What is difference between using Web Services and ODBC?” and “Which approach is better?” This 10-minute article is intended to provide an easy-to-understand answer to these questions.
For our discussion purpose here, let’s say that you have information on the NonStop that needs to be accessed by a .NET application from another department.
“What is the difference between using Web Service versus OBC?
The short answer to this question lies in YOUR answer to a simple question: Do you want that .NET application to access your Pathway Server or the database directly?
Accessing Pathway Server – Web Service
Most applications on the NonStop tend to be implemented in the form of a Pathway Server, which provides the business logic and the interface point to the Enscribe or NS SQL database. And if you want to make a Pathway Server “callable” by an external platform, e.g. .NET or Java, then Web Service is the most direct approach.
In my Web Service 101 for NonStop Users blog, I have discussed how the Web Service architecture is very similar to Pathway:
By using a Web Service product like SOAPam, you can easily turn that Pathway Server into a Web Service that can be consumed by .NET, Java and other applications. Via point-and-click in SOAPam Control Panel, you can easily generate a WSDL, which can then be imported in Visual Studio.NET and voila! That .NET application can send request to your Pathway Server.
Accessing data directly – ODBC
In some cases, you may want to provide external clients the ability to access the data directly.
- One common example is that you want to use Crystal Reports to generate reports on NonStop data.
- Or maybe you want to enable users to load NonStop data into Excel directly.
- A .NET application needs to add a transaction record on the NonStop.
In these cases, using a tool such as Attunity Connect will allow Enscribe file and NonStop SQL data to be accessed directly from external clients, including .NET, Java, mainframe and others.
“Which approach is better?”
As you can see, these two approaches address two different needs. One is not intrinsically “better” than the other. You need to determine what you requirement is, and apply the solution that best addresses that need.
In fact, Web Services and ODBC are actually complementary solutions. That’s why many of our customers actually take advantage of both approaches and use SOAP/AM and Attunity Connect to expand their interoperability options in an enterprise environment.
Do you find this tutorial blog helpful? Let us know what you think, and how we can make it even better. Don’t forget, you can subscribe to our blogs (top right-hand corner of the home page) to get automatic email notification when a new blog is available.
Phil Ly is the president and founder of TIC Software, a New York-based company specializing in software and services that integrate NonStop with the latest technologies, including Web Services, .NET and Java. Prior to founding TIC in 1983, Phil worked for Tandem Computer in technical support and software development.