Open-source Pick-like database being developed

Developers with an outfit called the MaVerick Maintenance Team are building an open-source version of a Pick-like MultiValue database, with the project founder saying this data management format remains superior to SQL databases that have succeeded it.

Still under development but available in preliminary form, MaVerick is licensing the open-source offering, also called MaVerick, via a Library GPL agreement, said project founder Anthony Youngman, in London. The Library GPL stipulation means developers would only be required to make MaVerick source code changes available to the public domain, and not any applications they build on top of MaVerick, Youngman said. A general release of the database is anticipated in approximately a year.

“MaVerick is an open-source implementation of the Pick database system,” Youngman said. MaVerick wants to position its database as an alternative to enterprise relational systems from companies such as Oracle Corp., IBM Corp., and Microsoft Corp., but knows this will be a tall order, given the marketing clout of these large vendors, Youngman said.

“We darn well hope it’s going to compete with Oracle; we think it’s a far better system,” said Youngman. “But as always, they’ve got the marketing muscle, they’ve got the money to pay for advertising.”

The Pick database, which has been used for business applications such as accounting, lost out in prominence to SQL databases such as Oracle and IBM DB2. But some “believe it’s far better than relational,” Youngman said.

“You can think in a relational manner, you can program it like a relational database, but it doesn’t [have] all the relational constraints,” Youngman said. For example, programming in SQL requires tables for each line on an invoice, while Pick needs just a single record per invoice that can be viewed relationally, he said.

Theoretically, legacy Pick applications should run on the MaVerick database when it is complete, Youngman said.

“There’s a lot of people like me that believe [Pick is] far better than SQL and we want an open-source version so we can try to persuade people to use it,” said Youngman.

MaVerick is built on Java and will run on top of any Java Virtual Machine, according to Youngman. He added he would like to get it to run on the C language as well.

Analyst Wayne Kernochan, managing vice-president of platform infrastructure at Aberdeen Group Inc., in Boston, expressed his personal affection for the Pick database system but doubted MaVerick could compete on an enterprise level. The database, however, may be successful as a small-footprint database for workgroups or desktops or as an embedded offering, Kernochan said.

“There, I think [MaVerick would] have a reasonable shot because of the dominance of enterprise databases, the Oracles, the IBMs, the Microsofts, has really not extended to the lower end,” Kernochan said.

“I like [Pick],” Kernochan said. “I’ve always liked it.”

The database has offered bells and whistles making it friendly to individual users wanting to set up their own environments for applications such as e-mail and office automation, said Kernochan, who added that he formerly worked at prime Computer, a Pick systems provider.

As far as a business plan, the MaVerick team does not have a specific plan as of yet, other than that its adherents’ skills can become more valuable if companies decide to shift from existing Pick database systems to MaVerick. But there may be a more specific marketing plan in the future, Youngman said.

Pick Systems, which offered the Pick database, has merged with Omnis Technology, and the company is now known as Raining Data Corp. The Pick database is now sold under the name of D3.