In not so distant past there used to be a product called SQL Mobile. As the name implies, or intended to covey at least, that the database product was for mobile devices only. Apparently, mobile applications have a need to store data in a relational store that is designed specially for them with the requirements that the engine must be very lightweight, runs in process, the database should be stored in a single file, can be encrypted, password protected … to mention a few.
So what about desktop applications? Well, the answer back then was that SQL Express is the desktop database of choice; it is free, feature-rich RDMS. The only thing through is that it runs as a service and thus your application setup needs to create the database, adjust roles .. etc. In the process, the setup needs some admin privileges.
What I just portrayed to you is the picture of the state of affairs few months back prior to changing the course of SQL Mobile to become SQL for Mobile & Desktop and give it a new name SQL Server Compact Edition or SQLCE. This transition is remarkable in many ways. It signals a mindset change inside SQL team by recognizing that desktop applications have the same needs and desires of those of mobile applications thus making SQL CE a perfect fit for both. For developers, this is great news since many applications can now target both mobile and desktop platforms using the same database. Moreover, SQLCE present an attractive alternative for developers wishing to use relational store in their applications but don’t need a full-blown SQL Express, avoiding setup complexity …etc
Apart from all that, SQL CE is yet another venue for Microsoft products to take advantage of and build new API layers just like what we did with Sync Services. I personally predict future handful of libraries to follow the same suite! Wait and see…
If you are not familiar with SQLCE, I encourage you to give it a serious look. Recently, I ran into a very interesting article about SQLCE titled: “Data Storage Architecture with SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition”. Looks like a good starting point to me, check it out.