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R:BASE (or RBASE) was the first relational database program for the PC. Created by Wayne Erickson in 1982, the original R:Base was called MicroRIM. (RIM was a mainframe database (Relational Information Manager) developed at Boeing Computer Service by Erickson and used by NASA to track the tiles on its space shuttles.)

In the early 1980s, when Microsoft did not have their own database, they obtained a license to resale R:BASE.

In June 1998, R:BASE Technologies, Inc. (a privately-held company in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, USA) acquired the R:BASE products from Abacus Software Group.

Some of the features included, and continue to include, a programming-free application development wizard, automatic multi-user capabilities, a full-featured 4GL programming language, form, report and label designers, and a fully ANSI SQL compliant relational language capability.

Since September 2007, R:BASE is available as R:BASE for Windows v7.6, R:BASE for DOS v7.6 and R:BASE Turbo V-8 for Windows. The Version 8.0 has an extended address management for file handling and is able to cover databases till 2.3 million TB versus V7.6 which covers databases till 2 GB. Since R:Base V7.6 there exists also a German kernel.

Legacy R:BASE Products

R:BASE 4000

The earliest version released by Microrim was called R:Base 4000 and was released in 1983. It worked with early version of Microsoft MS-DOS or IBM PC-DOS (version 2 or above). It shipped with a binder-type manual and the program on 360K floppy disks. The system being DOS-based, the interface was entirely text with the exception of DOS line-draw characters.

In spite of its relative ease of use and ability to create useful forms and reports, the first R:Base did not have a conventional programming language, but instead relied on SQL statements to accept input and produce output. The lack of a complete programming language meant that the product was not well received by some portions of the market. This may have helped the early, barely relational, dBase products to become dominant. The product was quickly upgraded to include Added Variables and a conventional programming Language (IF, WHILE, etc.) to the original SQL based language The update was released as R:Base 4000 Version 1.1 in March 1984. R:Base became the second most popular DOS database in the PC market (behind dBase).

Portions of the program allowed the user to design screens, called "Forms" in R:Base. Line-draw characters could implement buttons or boxes that would group text on screen. A separate utility allowed the design of printed output formats and was called "Reports." The report design system allowed a user to define and edit fields included in database reports on screen. Limited printer support was included as DOS programs each had their own unique printer driver for similar printer engines. A markup language allowed italics and bold output if the corresponding printer had a capability. Reports could be piped to the display or a serial port for testing if one were so inclined. Database names were constrained to seven characters. The actual data were contained in three files. In an example database named Sales, files name SALES1.RBF SALES2.RBF, AND SALES3.RBF would contain the database. Forms and reports were stored in files external to the database file.

By default, the application would start with a menu asking which database file you wanted to open. Using a startup switch, R:Base could be run entirely from a command prompt, called the "R-prompt," in system documentation. The application command prompt was an "R>" although this could be modified to other characters by editing a configuration file. In an example database named Sales, to query the database, you would first open it by typing "OPEN SALES" at the R-prompt. Using SQL-style queries, one could pull on-screen displays of data from tables. "SELECT FNAME LNAME CITY ZIPCODE FROM MAIN" would display one screen of data from the fields FNAME LNAME CITY ZIPCODE from the table named MAIN. Pressing the space bar would scroll to the next 24 records. A built-in help system produced text after the R> prompt if your query was invalid or the syntax was not understood by the database engine.

A feature of the program was its ability to create applications that ran scripts generated by an internal scripting system. Scripts were stored in files with an extension .APP. The system would first ask for type of menu desired, (one option was pull-down, for example,) then asked you to fill out the pull down headings. Next, you were stepped through a list of actions for each menu choice. At the end, the procedures that had been stepped through were recorded in the database file and could be called from an automatically-generated menu system. To prevent a user from tampering with the generated script, an encoded version was created. The user could password protect the encoded version for configuration management.

A utility called File Gateway allowed import and export of common file formats of the era such as Data Interchange Format (DIF), SYLK, Lotus 1-2-3, and dBase files. Another utility, called Recover, was intended to recover damaged R:Base databases.

R:BASE 5000, R:BASE 2.0

R:Base 4000 was followed by R:Base 5000, which substantially improved features and gained wider acceptance.

R:BASE 2.0 rolled out a new file format and introduced the ability to use memory above 640K. There was support for the Intel 80286 processor. The system had substantially better documentation. This version continued the evolution toward full ANSI SQL compliance. Forms, scripts, and reports were rolled into the database files. Three files with extensions .RB1, .RB2, and .RB3 contained everything for a single database.

R:BASE 3.x

R:Base 3.0 was ANSI SQL (1989?) compliant and utilized the DOS4GW memory manager. This memory manager was also seen in many DOS games of the era. R:Base 3.1 introduced a multi-user network capability. A version was also rolled out for the Convergent Technologies Operating System operating system, this was apparently a follow-on to Burroughs Teechnologies Operating System (BTOS).

By purchasing license packs, the database gained a multi-user capability in five-user increments. This included a sophisticated (for a DOS application in the day) record-level locking scheme. To work properly, the multi-user database had to be on a file server with all users accessing the database through a network. It was not true client-server because processing occurred in the clients. The configuration file expanded to allow language support and user-defined re-mapping of characters. For example, German characters such as the letter "ö" (o with an umlaut) could be remapped to the string oe. There were character fold tables and sort orders could be adjusted by the user. An "unlimited number of licenses" runtime version was offered, allowing developers to sell applications and include the run-time R:Base engine.

Example of an R:Base 3.1 command prompt transaction asking the application to list the structure of a database table of California cities, (CALIFCY):

  # Name               Type      Index Expression
  1 STATE              TEXT    2
  2 FEATURE            TEXT   85
  3 FEATURET           TEXT    9
  4 COUNTY1            TEXT   15
  5 FIPSST             TEXT    2
  6 FIPSCO             TEXT    3
  7 LATITUDE           TEXT    7
  8 LONGITUD           TEXT    8
  9 LAT_DEC            TEXT    8
 10 LON_DEC            TEXT   10
 11 SOURCELA           TEXT    7
 12 SOURCELO           TEXT    8
 13 SOUR_lat           TEXT    8
 14 SOUR_lon           TEXT   10
 15 ELEVATIO           TEXT    5
 16 FIELD16            TEXT    8
 17 MAPNAME            TEXT   27
 18 LAT1               DOUBLE
 19 LON                DOUBLE
 20 ITEM_NO            DOUBLE
  Current number of rows:   7070

R:BASE 4.x

R:Base 4.0 rolled out Intel 80386 support and a newer DOS4GW memory manager. It included a newer file format, replacing the format used with Version 3.1. To support legacy customers, Version 4.0 included a copy of Version 3.1 with a lot of warnings about new file format and features of 4 that were not supported in 3.1. While the documentation claimed 2GB data files were supported, there were data integrity problems with some very large tables over 1 million records. Still, the software was designed to accommodate up to 750 tables and easily handled tables with tens of thousands of records. It was faster than 3.1 and a reliable and practical application for many users.

R:Base 4.5 rolled out another new file format and greatly improved capacity. OBDC drivers were rolled out to allow interchange of data with Microsoft Windows based applications without running the DOS-based File Gateway utility. While number of records in a database was "limited only by disk space," in practice, some users found there were problems with databases which contained over about 1.1 million records.

First R:BASE for Windows

The first product produced by Microrim for use in Microsoft Windows was named R:Base for Windows. This rolled out in 1994. This version was compatible with R:Base 4.5 files and was fully ANSI SQL Level II 1989 compliant. The application was partially ANSI SQL 1992 Level II compliant. The screen capture images in documentation look like Windows 3.1, but documentation claimed it would also run on Windows 95 or the more trustworthy Windows inside OS/2 Warp version 3. A variety of run-time licensing schemes were available to developers.

Next Generation R:BASE Products

R:BASE 7.6 for Windows

R:BASE 7.6 for Windows introduces added power to define, design, develop, test, deploy and manage R:BASE applications. Simply using native controls, you can now design cool applications at a fraction of the cost and development time when compared to other database and development tools available.

R:BASE offers many key advantages over other databases - advantages that are better suited to overall business or departmental needs. R:BASE is designed much like the powerhouse database management systems of the mainframe and mid-range computer world, while empowering the individual business user.

With R:BASE 7.6 for Windows, you get the power you expect and need, with a new look and feel, helping you to build "no compromise" applications more quickly and easily than ever.

Key Features:

  • Robust SQL Engine: 25 year production
  • Multi-Lingual Support
  • Temporary Tables and Views
  • Stored Procedures and Triggers
  • Form Designer with over 90 Controls
  • External Form Files
  • Report Designer with over 25 Controls
  • Speedy Sub-Reports & Nested Sub-Reports
  • Label Designer with over 25 Controls
  • Built-in Enhnaced Crosstab Controls
  • Graphical Query Designer
  • Quick and Powerful Application Designer
  • Integrated File Gateway (Import/Export)
  • Support for Industry Standard XML Format
  • Simple to Use Form Wizard
  • Astonishing Report Wizard
  • Fast and Easy Label Wizard
  • Query Wizard with True GUI Interface
  • Application Wizard with No Outside Code
  • Versatile Database Explorer
  • GUI Text Editor and Syntax Highlighting
  • Option to Encrypt External Code
  • Built-in E-mail Support for Reports
  • Built-in MAPI E-mail
  • Built-in Image/BLOB Data Viewer/Editor
  • Built-in PDF Writer with 128-Bit Security
  • Built-in HTML and XHTML Writer
  • Built-in RTF Writer
  • Built-in XLS Writer
  • Built-in Bar Codes
  • Support for Custom Plugins/WinUDFs
  • Data Dictionary for Database Information
  • Trace Debugger with Watch Variables
  • Familiar R> Prompt for SQL Queries
  • Simultaneous DOS and Windows Support

R:BASE 7.6 for DOS

A fully compatible R:BASE 7.6 with robust SQL engine is also available for DOS.

R:BASE Turbo V-8 for Windows

  • Robust SQL Engine
  • Over 25 Years of Production
  • No Database Size Limit
  • 64 Bit Pointers
  • Speedy I/O
  • Database Name Up to 128 Characters
  • Table/View Name Up to 128 Characters
  • Column Names from 18 characters to 128
  • Form Names from 18 characters to 128
  • Report Names from 18 characters to 128
  • Label Names from 18 characters to 128
  • User passwords from 18 characters to 36
  • Select items from 100 to 1024
  • Expression size from 240 characters to 2000
  • Row size from 4096 bytes to 32768
  • Tables in a database from 16,000 to 32,000
  • Columns per table from 800 to 2048
  • Computed columns per table from 80 to 400
  • Number of indexes in a table from 400 to 1024
  • Number of columns in a database from 16,000 to 32,000
  • Number of indexes in a database from 16,000 to 32,000
  • Number of items accumulated in a select from 400 to 1024
  • ASCII expression size in characters from 1000 to 2000
  • Number of tokens in a command from 2010 to 8020
  • Size for words in a command from 2010 4-byte words to 5000 4-byte words
  • Additional Data Type: BIGNUM
  • Multi-Lingual Support
  • Fully compatible with IBM DB2, Oracle, and SQL Server databases when used as Server Tables (SATTACH)
  • Temporary Tables and Views
  • Stored Procedures and Triggers
  • 512-Bit Built-in File Encryption
  • Drag and Drop Functionality in Forms
  • Form Designer with over 80 Controls
  • External Form File Support for Totally Portable and Independent Applications
  • Report Designer with over 25 Controls
  • Custom Settings for Built-In Crosstab Controls
  • Label Designer with over 25 Controls
  • Additional OPTION Parameters for MDI Reports
  • Sub-Reports and Nested Sub-Reports
  • 512-Bit Built-in File Encryption for the OUTPUT command
  • Built-in Crosstab Controls
  • 512-Bit Built-in File Encryption for all command files, EEPs, using RBEdit, Save, Save AS ...
  • Additional "Form Opening Behaviors"
  • DB Grid Options to Support Zebra Stripe and Sorter Icons
  • TOP and LEFT parameters for #WHERE, CHOOSE, DIALOG, PAUSE and PRNSETUP Commands
  • Multi-Select Properties for Variable ListBoxes
  • New Commands (REFF, DEFF) to Run and Design External Form Files
  • Additional PLUGIN command options to match your application and form themes
  • Additional PRINT Command Options to customize Print Preview
  • Ability to "pre-load" the WHERE Builder with #WHERE
  • Over 30 new PROPERTY/GETPROPERTY command parameters
  • Enhanced DB Grid to allow Popup Menus
  • Customized hint options to toggle the balloon display and icons
  • Increased Custom Form Action Management
  • Extended ListView functionality with Zebra Stripes
  • Table driven ListView font/background colors
  • Extended Note/BLOB Field Viewer/Editor
  • Enhanced DB Grid to display Hint Expression
  • Support for transparent PNG Images
  • Enhanced PRINT parameters to alter the report margins
  • GATEWAY EXPORT Options to Create Colorful XLS Worksheets
  • GATEWAY EXPORT Options to Create a Multi-Page XLS Workbook
  • USING paramlist increased from 9 to 18
  • USING paramlist string length increased from 48 characters to 4000
  • Support for SSQL command in EEPs
  • Additional PROPERTY options for DB/VARIABLE Calendar controls
  • Faster EEP Processing as all Custom Form Actions, Custom EEPs (Forms/Labels/Reports) and Stored Procedures now run in memory, instead of temporary files
  • Ability to Create/Delete Form Controls at Runtime
  • Enhanced DROP Command
  • New ProgressMessage Command to "free up" resources while displaying PAUSE 3 messages
  • New MODAL parameter to launch a Form, Label or Report in a designer
  • New DLFREE and DLLOAD Functions
  • New GAUGE Options for PAUSE Command
  • Wildcard (%,*) Support for PROPERTY Command
  • SATTACH Temporary ODBC Server Tables
  • New SET PROGRESS Command
  • Tab Set Control
  • MDI Report Preview Window
  • Enhanced UNLOAD STRUCTURE command
  • New CHKVAR & CHKCUR Functions
  • CASCADE support for UPDATE, DELETE, or BOTH
  • Additional LIST parameter for CASCADE tables
  • MDI Report Preview Window
  • Dynamic Form Objects
  • New "Duplicates.." option in Data Browser/Editor
  • Table driven DB Grid font/background colors
  • Image Support in DB/Variable ListViews
  • Customizable CrossTab Grid color support
  • Custom hovering Mouse Cursor display
  • Graphical Query Designer
  • Quick and Powerful Application Designer
  • Integrated File Gateway (Import/Export)
  • Support for Industry Standard XML Format
  • Simple to Use Form Wizard
  • Intuitive Report Wizard
  • Fast and Easy Label Wizard
  • Query Wizard with True GUI Interface
  • Application Wizard with No Outside Code
  • Versatile Database Explorer
  • GUI Text Editor and Syntax Highlighting
  • Built-in E-mail Support for Reports
  • Built-in MAPI E-mail
  • Built-in Image/BLOB Data Viewer/Editor
  • Built-in PDF Writer with 128-Bit Security
  • Built-in HTML and XHTML Writer
  • Built-in RTF Writer
  • Built-in XLS Writer
  • Built-in Bar Codes
  • Support for Custom Plugins/WinUDFs
  • Data Dictionary for Database Information
  • Trace Debugger with Watch Variables
  • SQL Queries at R> Prompt

External links

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