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5.2 Opening a Database Connection

Before interacting with a database, an application must first establish a connection to the database server. The APIs covered in this book abstract the low-level connectivity details into a few simple object-oriented classes, making it easier to focus on the database application instead of protocols and network topology.

5.2.1 Opening an ADO.NET Database Connection

Opening a connection with ADO.NET requires instantiating a connection object with a properly formatted connection string and then invoking the Open method on the connection object. The connection object can be an OdbcConnection, SqlConnection, or an OleDbConnection. The OdbcConnection is designed for any ODBC datasource, and the OleDbConnection type will work with any OLE DB Provider. For the highest performance data access, use connection objects specifically tuned to the specific database platform, such as SqlConnection for Microsoft SQL Server. Following is the syntax for creating a Connection object in ADO.NET:

{Odbc|OleDb|Sql}Connection connection = 
   new {Odbc|OleDb|Sql}Connection(connection_string);
connection.Open( );

The format of the connection string is the same for all of the connection types. The format is a string of key/value pairs delimited by semicolons. For example:

key1=value1; key2=value2; key3=value3; ...

While the format is the same for every connection type, the keys and values are quite different. Tables Table 5-1 through Table 5-3 list the attributes for the three connection types listed above. Many database platforms support additional attributes that can also be set through the connection string. For a list of these attributes, please consult the appropriate database vendor documentation.

Following are examples of two connection strings for an OdbcConnection:

DSN=MyOracleDSN; UID=scott; PWD=tiger;
DRIVER={SQL Server};SERVER=(local);UID=sa;PWD=;DATABASE=pubs;

The first string connects to a Data Source Name, or DSN, with the name MyOracleDSN using the username scott and the password tiger.

The second string connects using the SQL Server driver to a database named pubs on the local server. The username is sa. The password is blank, indicating to the driver that the password is not required for the sa user.

Following is an example of a connection string for an OleDbConnection, which connects to an Oracle9i data source using the MSDAORA OLE DB provider, the use name scott, and the password tiger.

Provider=MSDAORA;Data Source=Oracle9;User ID=scott;Password=tiger;

Finally, here is an example of a connection string for a SqlConnection, which connects to a SQL Server data source on the local server:

Server=(local);UID=sa;PWD=;DATABASE=pubs;Connection Timeout=60;

In Tables Table 5-1 through Table 5-3, you'll find synonyms for some keywords. For example, you can use "DSN" and "Data Source Name" interchangeably in your code.

Table 5-1. Connection string attributes for OdbcConnection



Data Source Name


The DSN, FILEDSN, or DRIVER attribute must be provided to connect. The DSN is the Data Source Name known by the client's driver manager. The advantage of using a DSN is that the DSN can be changed to point to a different database platform while the database applications are still running.

User ID


This value is set to the user identifier authorized to open a new connection.



The password for the user. If the user doesn't have a password for the data source, then this property should still be supplied with an empty value.

DSN_File Name


Similar to the DSN, the FILEDSN is a file, typically with a DSN extension that contains the attributes for the connection object to establish connectivity. Even when using a FILEDSN, the connection may still need the password provided, since passwords aren't stored within DSN files.

Driver Name


A Driver may be explicitly used instead of a DSN or FILEDSN. The drawback of using a driver directly is that the application won't be isolated from changes made to the driver and will require slight modifications to target a different database platform.


When the SAVEFILE attribute is set to a legal filename, the connection attributes will be saved to the file once successful connectivity is established. This option is only available when using DRIVER and FILEDSN connectivity methods.

Table 5-2. Connection string attribute for OleDbConnection




The name of the provider: this is the only required attribute. The specified provider may require additional attributes.

Table 5-3. Connection string attributes for SqlConnection



Application Name

The name of the application that will be displayed from server management utilities.


Extended properties

Initial File Name

The pathname to an attachable database.

Connect Timeout

Connection Timeout

Number of seconds to wait before the connection attempt is aborted. The default is 15 seconds.

Connection Lifetime

Time in seconds the connection can remain in the connection pool, when pooling is enabled.

Connection Reset

Specifies whether or not the connection is reset when it is reused from the connection pool. Default is true.

Current Language

The language the connection session should use.

Data Source




Network Address

The SQL Server instance name or network address.

Initial Catalog


The name of the database.

Integrated Security


Set to true or sspi for secure connections. The default is false.

Max Pool Size

The maximum number of connections allowed in the connection pool at a time. The default is 100.

Min Pool Size

The minimum number of connections to keep in the connection pool at a time. The default is 0.

Network Library


The network library to use in establishing the connection. Valid settings are dbnmpntw for Named Pipes, dbmsrpcn for Multiprotocol, dbmsadsn for AppleTalk, dbmsgnet for VIA, dbmsipcn for Shared Memory, dbmsspxn for IPX/SPX, and dbmssocn for TCP/IP. The default is dbmssocn for TCP/IP.

Packet Size

The network packet size in bytes; the default is 8,192.



The user's password.

Persist Security Info

Determines if security-sensitive connection properties, such as the password, are stored within the connection object after a connection has been attempted or completed. The default is false.


Determines if connection pooling should be used for the connection. The default is true.

User ID

The user's login name.

Workstation ID

The name of the computer connecting to the database.

5.2.2 Opening a JDBC Database Connection

Following is the syntax for registering a driver with the JDBC Driver Manager and then opening a database connection:

Connection connection = DriverManager.getConnection(connect_string,                                                    
                                                  username, password);

The first step in establishing JDBC connectivity is to instruct the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) class loader to load the appropriate JDBC driver.

The most common method of loading the driver into the class loader is to use the static forName method of the Class class. This method can provide applications with greater flexibility in changing database platforms by having the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) load the database driver at runtime:

Class.forName( "driver_name" );

After the database driver has been loaded, the application can establish connectivity by invoking the static getConnection method on the JDBC DriverManager class. The getConnection method takes three arguments: a connection string, username, and password:

Connection connection = DriverManager.getConnection(connect_string,
 username,                  password);

The connection string follows the following JDBC URL naming scheme:


Following are examples of how to connect to the different vendors covered in this book using JDBC. DB2
Connection connection = DriverManager.getConnection(
    "jdbc:db2:DATABASE", "user", "passwd" ); MySQL
Connection connection = DriverManager.getConnection(
     "user", "passwd" ); PostgreSQL
Connection connection = DriverManager.getConnection(
     "user", "passwd" ); Oracle
Connection connection = DriverManager.getConnection(
      "scott","tiger" ); SQL Server
Connection connection = DriverManager.getConnection(
     "jdbc:microsoft:sqlserver://SERVER:1433;" +
     "user", "passwd" );

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