C5DG-6 DBFNDX Driver

Clipper 5.x – Drivers Guide

Chapter 6

DBFNDX Driver Installation and Usage

DBFNDX is the dBASE III PLUS compatible RDD for Clipper. The DBFNDX driver uses the Clipper driver architecture to access dBASE III PLUS compatible index files within a Clipper program.

In This Chapter

This chapter explains how to install DBFNDX and how to use it in your applications. The following major topics are discussed:

. Overview of the DBFNDX RDD

. Installing DBFNDX Driver Files

. Linking the DBFNDX Driver

. Using the DBFNDX Driver

. Compatibility with dBASE III PLUS

Overview of the DBFNDX RDD

The DBFNDX database driver allows creation, access, and updating of dBASE III and dBASE III PLUS compatible index (.ndx) files. Index files (.ndx) created with Clipper are exactly the same as those created by dBASE III PLUS. All operations that can be performed on standard Clipper index (.ntx) files can be performed on (.ndx) files using the DBFNDX database driver.

In a network environment, the DBFNDX driver supports the Clipper file and record locking scheme. The multiuser behavior is the same as the default DBFNTX driver. This means that the DBFNDX database driver supports concurrent access to (.ndx) files between Clipper applications only. Concurrent access to (.ndx) files between dBASE III PLUS and Clipper programs is not supported.

Important! Updating database (.dbf) and index (.ndx) files shared between dBASE III PLUS and Clipper programs may corrupt the (.dbf) and any of its associated (.ndx) files.

Installing DBFNDX Driver Files

The DBFNDX database driver is supplied as the file, DBFNDX.LIB.

The Clipper installation program installs this driver in the \CLIPPER5\LIB subdirectory on the drive that you specify, so you need not install the driver manually.

Linking the DBFNDX Database Driver

To link the DBFNDX database driver into an application program, you must specify DBFNDX.LIB to the linker in addition to your application object files (.OBJ).

1. To link with .RTLink using positional syntax:

C>RTLINK <appObjectList> ,,, DBFNDX

2. To link with .RTLink using freeformat syntax:


Note: These link commands all assume the LIB, OBJ, and PLL environment variables are set to the standard locations. They also assume that the Clipper programs were compiled without the /R option.

Using the DBFNDX Database Driver

To use (.ndx) files in a Clipper program:

1. Place a REQUEST DBFNDX at the beginning of your application or at the top of the first program file (.prg) that opens a database file using the DBFNDX driver.

2. Specify the VIA “DBFNDX” clause if you open the database file with the USE command.


3. Specify “DBFNDX” for the <cDriver> argument if you open the database file with the DBUSEAREA() function.


4. Use RDDSETDEFAULT(“DBFNDX”) to set the default driver to DBFNDX.

Except in the case of REQUEST, the RDD name must be a literal character string or a variable. In all cases it is important that the driver name be spelled correctly.

The following program fragments illustrate:

USE Customers INDEX Name, Address NEW VIA "DBFNDX"


USE Customers INDEX Name, Address NEW

Using (.ntx) and (.ndx) Files Concurrently

You can use (.ndx) and (.ntx) files concurrently in a Clipper program like this:


// (.ntx) file using default DBFNTX driver USE File1 INDEX File1 NEW

// (.ndx) files using DBFNDX driver USE File2 VIA “DBFNDX” INDEX File2 NEW

Note, however, that you cannot use (.ndx) and (.ntx) files in the same work area. For example, the following does not work:

USE File1 VIA "DBFNDX" INDEX File1.ntx, File2.ndx

Compatibility with dBASE III PLUS

When accessing dBASE III PLUS (.ndx) files, there are several compatibility issues of which you must be aware. These issues are discussed below.

Supported Data Types

The DBFNDX database driver supports the following data types for key expressions:

. Character

. Numeric

. Date

This is consistent with dBASE III PLUS.

The DBFNDX database driver does not support indexing with logical key expressions as does the default DBFNTX database driver. This is actually a dBASE III PLUS limitation and is not supported by the DBFNDX driver in order to enforce compatibility with dBASE III PLUS.

To work around this limitation, index logical values by converting them to character values like this:

INDEX ON IIF(<lExp>, "T", "F") TO <logicalIndex>

Supported Key Expressions

When you create (.ndx) files using the DBFNDX driver, you must use only Clipper or user-defined functions compatible with dBASE III PLUS. Use of the other functions will render the (.ndx) file unreadable in dBASE III PLUS.


In Clipper, you can use the FIND command only to locate keys in indexes where the index key expression is character type. This differs from dBASE III PLUS where FIND supports character and numeric key values.

Note: In Clipper programs, always use the SEEK command or the DBSEEK() function to search an index for a key value.

The DBFNDX driver lets you recover from a data type error raised during a FIND or SEEK. However, since Error:canDefault, Error:canRetry, or Error:canSubstitute are set to false (.F.), you should use BEGIN SEQUENCE…END to handle a SEEK or FIND data type error. Within the error block for the current operation, issue a BREAK() using the error object the DBFNDX database driver generates, like this:

bOld := ERRORBLOCK({|oError| BREAK(oError)})
// Recovery code

There is an extensive discussion of the effective use of the Clipper error system in the Error Handling Strategies chapter of the Programming and Utilities guide.

Sharing Data on a Network

As mentioned above, the DBFNDX driver does not support dBASE III PLUS file and record locking schemes. Instead, the DBFNDX driver supports the DBFNTX file and record locking scheme. This means that if the same database and index files are open in Clipper and dBASE III PLUS, Clipper program locks are not visible to dBASE III PLUS and vice versa.

Warning! Database integrity is not guaranteed and index corruption will occur if Clipper and dBASE III PLUS programs attempt to write to a database or index file at the same time. For this reason, concurrent use of the same database (.dbf) and index (.ndx) files by dBASE III PLUS and Clipper programs is strongly discouraged and not supported.

Compatibility with dBASE IV

Specific compatibility with dBASE IV is provided through the DBFMDX driver. It includes (.dbf), (.mdx), and (.dbt) file format compatibility and is described in detail in the previous chapter.


In this chapter, you were given an overview of the features and benefits of the DBFNDX RDD. You learned how to link this driver and how to use it in your applications, and were given an overview of the compatibility issues.

One response to “C5DG-6 DBFNDX Driver

  1. Pingback: Clipper 5.x – Drivers Guide | Viva Clipper !

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