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DataFlex: An Introduction

by Curtis Krauskopf

What is DataFlex?

DataFlex is a relational, 4GL Object Oriented database programming language. This means that it has the following features for database engineers:

  • relational means the tables can be automatically linked together in meaningful ways. An invoice, for example, can be defined with a header table for the top part of the invoice, and by a details table for the individual line items on the invoice.
  • 4GL is a technical description of the language. 4GL stands for fourth generation language. DataFlex uses higher level constructs (syntax and keywords) than 3GL languages. Examples of 3GL languages are C and Fortran.
  • Object Oriented (also known as OOP) describes a language that has the ability to represent concepts using classes and objects. Classes encourage the concept of code reuse, whereby the business rules for a module are used in other, related modules. Objects encapsulate sections of the application so that changes in one area do not affect the features and functionality in other areas of the application. Languages that are OOP are generally more powerful than languages that don't have these capabilities.
  • database programming language is a phrase used for computer languages that allow the coder to easily interface with a database. Every database has the same types of concepts: table creation, row insertion and updating, row deletion and data lookup. A database programming language simplifies these concepts by providing features that automatically perform the mundane drudgery of moving data around and validating its correctness.

DataFlex is a language that was created by Data Access Corporation around 1978. One of DataFlex's strongest features back then (and now) was its ability to be ported to just about any operating system. Consider, in 1978, that Windows, MS-Dos and even Apple didn't exist yet. CP/M and Unix were the two most common operating systems.

Not Married to the Hardware

In the early 1980s, a dominant operating system and computer architecture didn't exist yet. Corporations and programmers didn't want to invest in a computer system that would be obsolete (and unsupported) within a few years. DataFlex's portability was a solution to these problems by allowing an application to be coded one time in DataFlex and then ported to just about any system architecture. The application didn't have to be married to the hardware anymore.


The Database Managers has been providing custom programming services in since 1985. The types of projects they have worked on ranges from automated inventory control systems to intelligent systems that detect fraud in insurance claims.

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