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What Does Dbase Mean?

DBase is a microcomputer database management system (DBMS) that runs on a Windows platform. DBase is unique in that it allows for the hassle-free production of a wide variety of applications, including middleware applications, Web apps hosted on Windows servers and Windows rich client applications.


DBase is designed to manipulate relational databases. It is a versatile third-generation language with non-procedural capability and is a very good debugger.

Techopedia Explains Dbase

DBase history can be traced back to 1978, when it was created by Wayne Ratliff and initially named the “Vulcan.” In the 1980s, Ashton-Tate purchased Vulcan and marketed it as DBase II, which is considered to be the first DBase version. DBase II was compatible with a 16-bit control program for microcomputers. Subsequent versions like DBase III, III+ and DBase IV were used on 16-bit DOS platforms. Further versions like Visual DBase 5.5 and Visual DBase 5.7 worked on 16-bit Windows platforms. Visual DBase 7.0, Visual DBase 7.5, dB2K and DBase Plus are more recent versions that operate on 32-bit Windows platforms. As of 2011, DBase Plus is the most widely used version.

Data storage in DBase format is widely accepted and supported by numerous database management systems. DBase uses procedural functions and commands similar to the BASIC language. It uses simple commands for data manipulation like USE and GO TOP to traverse records, STR() and SUBSTR() for string manipulation, and REPLACE AND STORE for field value manipulation. Other commands like STORE, DO, APPEND, and MODIFY are also used. The underlying file format of DBase is .dbf.

DBase has many outstanding features that contribute to its prominence among database management systems and tools, such as:

  • A just in time (JIT) compiler, which converts the source language into machine language
  • A linker to create DBase applications (.exe files)
  • A runtime engine installer for Web servers and machines that need to execute DBase runtime applications
  • Preprocessors for reading the program source file and producing preprocessed files as output, which is fed into the compiler
  • An integrated development environment with a command window and navigator
  • Two-way graphical user interface (GUI) design tools, which possess the ability to switch back and forth between using a GUI design tool and a code editor
  • A source code editor, which allows for the manual editing and entry of codes

DBase also has many visual classes and database classes. Visual classes include:

  • PushButton
  • Image
  • Grid
  • Scroll Bar
  • ActiveX
  • Report
  • ReportViewer
  • SpinBox
  • ComboBox
  • ListBox
  • Text
  • TextLabel
  • Form
  • SubForm
  • Notebook
  • Container
  • Entry field
  • RadioButton

Database classes include:

  • RowSet
  • Field
  • StoredProc
  • Datamodule
  • Session
  • Database
  • Query

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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.