Last nicotine patch arrives for Btrieve database geezers

LEGENDARILY ANCIENT database software “Btrieve” seems to be still in use, so much that the firm behind it is offering a “final patch” notice and advert on GMail giving users 90 days to download it before it’s gone with the wind.

Those of you with GMail accounts might have hit the adwords advert that Pervasive Software is currently running. It reads “Still using Btrieve? So are we!” and including a link titled “Btrieve 6.15 forever”. Yes, that was puzzling, so we decided to gaze our TechEYE into was the fuzz was all about.

Warning notice

What the firm calls “Btrieve Ultimate” includes “all the fixes, tweaks, updates and general improvements Pervasive Engineering and Support have assembled over the last 11 years”. Strangely, the readme file for the “Btrieve 6.15 Ultimate patch” is dated February 2009, yet the company is running adverts for this patch on Google adwords now, late March 2010. The news is that the firm now speaks of having 90 days to download before they pull all the ancient btrieve information and downloads from the Net.

It is amazing that the company seems to have kept record of its customers more than fifteen years after a product release, despite all the change of hands in ownership. The company is instructing customers to fill a web form and they promise to get back to you with instructions on how to get Btrieve Ultimate. People from Blighty and the rest of Euroland are being told to dial 00800.1212.3434.

The notice on its web site reminds that time is running out to get this last fix, and that the funeral is coming up soon: “After 90 days, we’ll remove access to the patch, all knowledge base articles for Btrieve and all documentation. (After all, we stopped shipping Btrieve 15 years ago).” ends the notice.

Btrieve advert as seen on GMail

All good things come to an end
“Remember when Btrieve rocked the database world?” asked the firm once in its web page. Yes, some of us do. Created back in the DOS days, Softcraft’s Btrieve started as a resident (TSR) engine providing simple database services to DOS applications. It then jumped to Netware and eventually Windows and OS/2 versions became available around 1994, when Btrieve 6.15 was released for Windows, IBM’s 32-bit OS/2, and DOS. Over time, the software firm was bought by Novell and then spit back when the Utah Mormons lost interest on it, becoming “Pervasive Software”.

The company was so fond of its history and its ability to “outlive the most turbulent of times” that it created a “Btrieve Society” web site -shut down in 2007 apparently- and gave away a free T-Shirt to the community of developers using its database. In the OS/2 world, it was popular due to the ability to interface with it from the Rexx scripting language.

After version 6, the company released SQL versions seven, eight and nine, the later including a Java GUI. The company now ships its PSQL product -currently at version 10- for Linux and Mac OSX in addition to Windows. PSQL supports c, Visual C++, Delphi, and Java using a variety of methods like ODBC, JDBC, and a Pure Java interface.

Software Archeology
But as eComstation proves, IT geeks become attached to “old” technology that just works, or at least works most of the time, -until it fails-. In fact, we bet that right now there’s someone out there running Btrieve File Manager for OS/2 (OS2FMAN.EXE) to recover a corrupted Btrieve file.

No mention of an OS/2 Btrieve “ultimate patch”, though. In any case, if you are still using Btrieve on Windows, get the patch now or regret it forever. Like a caffeine patch or a good smoke, it can keep you running for some more time, before Btrieve -like everything- finally fades into history.