DDB.exe: The forgotten tool


David MeegoBack in the distant past when Great Plains Dynamics only ran on Ctree and Btrieve (which became Pervasive.SQL), accessing raw data was extremely difficult.  There were ODBC drivers, but they were difficult to use (Btrieve required DDF files generated and Ctree was read-only).

Then a tool call DBrowser was created. This tool used DDE (Dynamic Data Exchange) to log into a running Dynamics application session and read the list of tables from the Dexterity dictionary and then make the contents of each table visible.  It was read-only but at least we could now see the contents of the data files.  This was a huge advance for developers, who previously had not been able to easily confirm their code was writing the data they expected.

Then in 1998, a developer working for Great Plains Software in Poland, created a tool call DDB or Dynamic Data Browser. This tool took the concept of DBrowser and extended it to the next level:

  • It had the little “ambulance” button on the login window which helped to get the login information correct.
  • It could display the tables contents using any of the indexes on the table using Technical or Physical field names.
  • It could display a selected range of records from the table using any of the indexes on the table.
  • It could edit data and commit the changes back (Uncheck the menu option Records >> Read Only to activate).
  • It could dump out the entire table’s contents into a text file (tab, comma or period delimited).
  • It also allows a user to browse the table definitions and structure.

Below is a screenshot showing the tool in action, reading data from Microsoft Dynamics GP v10.0:

DDB

So why do I bring this tool back into the light of day? 

Well, I recently used it to help a site upgrade from Great Plains Dynamics 5.5 (ctree).  They had a table which was corrupted and was stopping the upgrade and data conversion from working.  After using some “old school” techniques that I had almost forgotten, we managed to re-index the ctree table.  However, it was still failing to upgrade.  So using DDB and its Dump Data feature, we exported all the data to a text file. We then deleted the DAT and IDX files of the damaged table and used Table Import to read all the data back in.  The corruption was fixed and the upgrade could continue. DDB has saved the day.

Maybe one day, DDB can save the day for you….

The code and documentation for the DDB tool is attached at the bottom of the article.

Please note that this tool is not supported. 

David

ddb.zip

Comments (11)

  1. mpolino says:

    Hey Dave,

    Nice to see DDB is still alive and well for you too! Some of us haven’t forgotten it. I have had it on DynamicAccounting.net since the beginning but it’s great to see it highlighted here!

    Sometimes I just prefer to see the friendly names when hunting through the GP tables and DDB works well for that!

    Mark

  2. Paul Maynell says:

    I have used DDB since it was first released and continue to use find it useful when using GoToAssist (GTA) or GTAexpress on a users workstation without access to SQL tools.  This is paretically true after hours when access to the SQL Server may not be available.

    It is useful tool for a (capable) user that is creating SmartList Builder objects or custom reports.  Ensure that the user understands not to remove the Read Only check.  

    Concerning GoToAssist Express Now a Citrix product). If you sign up for the BETA (FREE) version before the end of the year you will save 30% off the normal monthly rate when it goes live next month.   I have used the full GoToAssist product for seven years and find it indispensable to provide support. https://express.gotoassist.com/

  3. Dynamics GP tool Dynamic Data Browser (DDB) is getting some love from David Musgrave today on the Developing

  4. Raja says:

    Please let me know the URL to download this tool

  5. Patrick Roth [MSFT] says:

    Raja,

    Directions for this are given in bold at the bottom of the article.  i.e. The tool is linked to the post.

  6. Bill Campbell says:

    I came to the blog late and the link for the tool is not here any longer.

    I have a GPA v8.1 DOS problem and I really need to get old school and was hoping the DDB would be able to assist.

    I have a thread running on the Dynamics GP forum – How Long have you been using GPA DOS – if anyone has a link to this tool – please let me know.

    Bill

    Skype: billc.edmonton

    billc@misltd.ca

  7. Patrick Roth [MSFT] says:

    Bill,

    DDB won’t work with GPA – it only works with Dynamics.  If you need to work with the underlying data, what you would need to do is get the DDF files for GPA and access the data via something like MS Access.

    The question then is, who would have these DDF files anymore?

  8. Bill Campbell says:

    Thanks – did not think about that – i did download the ddb and knew that it was not functional for what i needed due to the names and fields required.

    Will try to do something with the native btrieve tools.

    Bill C

  9. I would really like to check out this DDB Tool.

    Does anyone know where I may find it?

    Thanks.

  10. David Musgrave says:

    Have a look on the Training page of Winthrop Dexterity Consultants' site at http://www.winthropdc.com

  11. DrDave says:

    Thank you very very very much for posting this utility… I had a client who needed some financial data from their old dynamics 4 c-tree system… It's been a long time since I installed windows 98… And then trying to get the data… not fun… I tried odbc and access without any luck and then today I found this post. So, thank you again. You saved the day and made me a hero 😉

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