If you're designing a large-scale professional application that requires a back-end database, you should consider using SQL Server as your database. SQL Server is the most robust of the databases listed in this chapter, but it also costs the most and has the highest learning curve. You cannot distribute SQL Server freely, nor can it be installed on a typical desktop class machine. SQL Server requires Windows NT, Windows 2000 Server, or Windows 2003 Server. One of the advantages to both SQL Server and MSDE is that code written for one will work equally well with the other. The two products use the same API and SQL language. However, there are several distinct advantages to SQL Server. SQL Server supports larger databases and more users. In addition, it has many features that are not found in MSDE, such as full-text searching, replication, failover, and Query Analyzer. From a developer's perspective, SQL Server allows you to script the creation of a database. MSDE doesn't support this functionality.
If you're not sure which type of database to create for your application, ask yourself the following questions:
□ Does your application need to be accessed by multiple users?
□ Does your application need to create databases via code?
□ Will your database grow beyond 2GB?
□ Will your application need replication or full-text searching?
Even answering these questions won't tell you for sure every time which type of database you should use for your application. You'll have to use the answers to these questions as well as some common sense and research to determine which type of database application to use. For example, if you need a database that promises to grow to around 1.5GB and needs to be accessed by multiple users on a central server, you can utilize either MSDE or SQL Server. However, using SQL Server gives you some added benefits, including the capacity beyond 2GB in size for future growth. If money is an issue, you'll want to lean toward using an MSDE database, as the license is included with Visual Studio.
Whatever database you choose, be sure to research your options before making your decision. If you do choose SQL Server, you'll need to do some research on server sizing and performance based on your application's size and number of users.
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