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10.3 JDBC Configuration

This section describes additional configuration which must be done to allow TOPCAT to access SQL-compatible relational databases for reading (see Section or writing (see Section tables. If you don't need to talk to SQL-type databases, you can ignore the rest of this section. The steps described here are the standard ones for configuring JDBC (which sort-of stands for Java Database Connectivity), described in more detail on Sun's JDBC web page.

To use TOPCAT with SQL-compatible databases you must:

Installing the driver consists of two steps:
  1. Set the jdbc.drivers system property to the name of the driver class as described in Section 10.2.3
  2. Ensure that the classpath you are using includes this driver class as described in Section 10.2.1

These steps are all standard for use of the JDBC system.

To the author's knowledge, TOPCAT has so far successfully been used with the following RDBMSs and corresponding JDBC drivers:

MySQL has been tested on Linux with the Connector/J driver and seems to work; tested versions are server 3.23.55 with driver 3.0.8 and server 4.1.20 with driver 5.0.4. Sometimes tables with very many (hundreds of) columns cannot be written owing to SQL statement length restrictions. Note there is known to be a column metadata bug in version 3.0.6 of the driver which can cause a ClassCastException error when tables are written. Check the driver's documentation for additional parameters, for instance "useUnicode=true&characterEncoding=UTF8" may be required to handle some non-ASCII characters.
PostgreSQL 7.4.1 apparently works with its own driver. Note the performance of this driver appears to be rather poor, at least for writing tables.
You can use Oracle with the JDBC driver that comes as part of its Basic Instant Client Package. However, you can't currently use the SQL load/SQL save dialogue boxes to do it. You have to specify a JDBC URL specifying the query to read/table to write as a string in the Location field of the normal table load/save dialogue boxes. The URL will look something like
    jdbc:oracle:thin:@//hostname:1521/database#SELECT ...
for querying an existing database (loading) and
for writing a new table (saving).
SQL Server
There is more than one JDBC driver known to work with SQL Server, including jTDS and the Microsoft JDBC driver. Some evidence suggests that jTDS may be the better choice, but your mileage may vary.
Sybase ASE
There has been a successful use of Sybase 12.5.2 and jConnect (jconn3.jar) using a JDBC URL like "jdbc:sybase:Tds:hostname:port/dbname?user=XXX&password=XXX#SELECT...". An earlier attempt using Sybase ASE 11.9.2 failed.
Other RDBMSs and drivers may or may not work - please let us know the results of any experiments you carry out. Sun maintain a list of JDBC drivers for various databases; it can be found at

Here are example command lines to start up TOPCAT using databases known to work.

   java -classpath topcat-full.jar:pg73jdbc3.jar \
        -Djdbc.drivers=org.postgresql.Driver \
   java -classpath topcat-full.jar:mysql-connector-java-3.0.8-bin.jar \
        -Djdbc.drivers=com.mysql.jdbc.Driver \
   java -classpath topcat-full.jar:ojdbc14.jar \
        -Djdbc.drivers=oracle.jdbc.driver.OracleDriver \
SQL Server with jTDS
   java -classpath topcat-full.jar:jtds-1.1.jar \
        -Djdbc.drivers=net.sourceforge.jtds.jdbc.Driver \

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TOPCAT - Tool for OPerations on Catalogues And Tables
Starlink User Note253
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