DBFree is a software suite (a.k.a Distro)
especially conceived for web applications and bundles into a single package a webserver, a database engine and an Xbase interpreter.
No special skills are required: the whole system is delivered pre-configured ready-to-run on standard systems.
DBFree V4.1 runs on Microsoft Windows 10 (and can be used also on 8 and 7 with some adjustment) and on almost any hardware that can support them.
In order to properly configure a public website you will need Admin rights and full access to your LAN configuration (i.e. the router that connects you to internet).
For a SOHO installation or a Home Office this is the most common situation.
For personal use or developement just install the distro on your PC: no other settings are required.
What's DBFree for?
DBFree is aimed to power users and not to professionals.
By Using DBFre and its tools you can run web applications and turn your Home PC into a real server, learn the basics of programming or develope full applications
to be distributed using DBFree as runtime or residing in the cloud.
DBFree is extremely lightweight (from 6 up to 20 MB depending by version).For special purposes (presentations, demos, development) you can even set DBFree to run from a pen drive
and have it run on host computers.
You can also use DBFree to run web applications or full web sites developed by others.
DBFree V4 offers a new model of portable application called dbAPPS that can be directly downloaded and run without
need of programming skills, using DBFree as runtime environment.
No one to depend on
DBFree was thought since the beginning to implement SOHO web servers using cheap hardware or obsolete computers and to be run from home on
standard ADSL lines, in complete autonomy, but also for all those offices where
individual workers need to provide internet services without
having to ask for the intervention of technicians, system administrators, security experts and database managers.
DBFree V3, for example, performs extremely well even on Atom 1.0Ghz computers with as low as 512MB of RAM,
and can transform a standard Windows XP Home into a real server capable of
handling hundreds of database transactions per minute.
Latest versions are tailored to virtual machines and cloud services where they can substain
the traffic of commercial web sites, up to tens of thousands of transactions per minute or more.
Made for ordinary people
With latest releases of DBFree you don't strictly need to be a programmer (at least not right away) to put DBFree
on rails and manage your personal website. All you have to do is to set DBFree on a dedicated PC and
set your router properly.
DBFree is intended mainly for amateur web developers that want to build web applications
using server-side scripts but almost anyone with a minimal knowledge of HTML can use it
to manage data on the web, create and share databases with coworkers or customers, collect data by using web
forms on internet, LAN orwireless tablets, without need of programming anything.
DBFree V4 supports dbApps, pre-built applications to be installed directly from web and that can
make a DBFree server an effective no-skill-required solution.
The Xbase language, after three decades, has still lot to offer to
programmers. Our mission is to keep alive the art of programming and saving the
beatiful Xbase language from oblivion.: learn yourself server-side,
table-oriented programming with a modern NO-SQL approach
students the basics of
procedural programming and database processing.
structured information in schools, charities and non-profit
organizations where budget,
skills and hardware resources are a concern.
You can build and sell your own applications relying on DBFree without paying or noticing anyone. No royalties, no hidden costs, no fees.
Build professional ad-hoc web
applications for intranet or
of larger database driven solutions to build withLianja� or Recital�.
Build and market
apps from small web
applications to complete DBFree-based systems.
capabilities to existing Xbase LAN
applications (written in Xbase,dBase or Clipper).
Run your own web portal complete
of database-driven catalogues and payment system.
Stay in touch with your
customers providing reports or collecting
data from the web on your
DBFree offers a suitable solution to port
your existing data on handheld devices: just build a standard web
application with a responsive layout and provide you user our DBFree gateway
for Android to connect with it.
DBFree is Open Source (except MaxScript and some utilities)
All the code offered with
DBFree, including its interface, is released as Open Source. Neverthless the MaxScript
interpreter necessary to some of those pages is not provided as such but, even if free of any charge,
is released under a license (as well as some other utilities included in the bundle).
You can use DBFree libraries
and MaxScript freely, on any computer, for staging and for production use,
including workstations, virtual machine and web server in a commercial
You can sell or market the
applications you made with or for DBFree and MaxScript.
You do not need to register or pay for libraries accompanying the DBFree original
distribution and for the MaxScript interpreter (anyway notice that some optional software products,
third-party libraries or manuals offered on this site may require a payment).
Why MaxScript is not open-source
Maxsis granted to DBFree.org an exclusive, permanent license for including the MaxScript interpreter
in their products.
Anyway we don't have access to interpreter source code, even if we've been granted unlimited usage and
all the future updates, so - like for many other products around including some major Linux distros- DBFree
is an Open Source product with some proprietary components. And the MaxScript interpreter is one of them.
DBFree was originally developed as demo version for DBMax, which was and still is a commercial product.
In the past years DBFree took advantage of the work of its users and got developed at a faster pace than
the product from whom origined, both in features and user base, and thus established in facts itself as a
Neverthless the original license remains in place, and while the code developed by the users is Open Source the
interpreter remains proprietary even if it is free to use for everyone (and it is granted to remain so).
DBFree users are granted the right to redistribute the interpreter, for free or for a fee, but only by including
it as a component for their own applications, under the term of DBFree User's License Notice that the mere interpreter cannot be redistributed as standalone product
Actually the same MaxScript interpreter used by DBFree is the
core of other commercial (and expensive) products, while only DBFree.org can deliver it for free to their users.
DBMax is and remains a commercial product. It
is largely compatible and can run without any change everything developed
for DBFree, but offers a wider choice of database formats, notably dBase,
FoxPro and ODBC support, plus native xBase++ (clipper) index support.
More than this, DBMax is tailored to work with IIS7, IIS7.5, IIS8 and IIS8.5 and run multiple
websites at once.
DBFree registered developers can take advantage of upgrading to DBMax at a
So, where is the code?
Download DBFree and look inside its folder. All the sources are freely exposed to you.
MaxScript compiles the pages in real-time so if you have the files you have the code: just open them
with any text viewer. Notice anyway that the pages sent to users and in generale all pages opened
with a browser won't show any code: only HTML or an error message.
You must be at the console (or remote desktop) to see the server-side code contained into the pages.
DBFree.org business model
DBFree.org have an exclusive, permanent license for including the MaxScript interpreter in their products, but
even if their users can produce application and sold them freely to anyone, DBFree.org is not allowed
(or intentioned) to ask money for DBFree. DBFree (as suggested by its name) is completely free for everyone.
DBFree.org is hosted for free by Maxsis, but does not receive any other financial support or facility.
To support the project and all the work of keeping the product alive DBFree.org may rely only by the revenues that
come from selling documentation, utilities, services and custom libraries.
At the moment we decided not
to host advertising or sign for other marketing opportuinities (like bundling crapware with our products)
Basic documentation is free and included with all products: some other publications instead may be available
for a fee.
This is only a way for supporting the project, not making money: we hope you will understand the intentions behind
With same aim we plan to build and offer special-purpose libraries on sale in the near future.
DBFree is a bundle of several different software components:
DBFree main interface and ancillaries are released as Open Source under LGPL license
Other utilities (included those provided directly by Microsoft) follow their license schemes.
Developing Web Database Applications with DBFree
Exploring DBFree Installing just for exploration
If you just want to see how DBFree works and what you can do with it there is nothing simpler.
Quick and easy
Unzip the content of the distro file on your system disk (usually c:).
The ZIP file contains one folder named DBFreeV4; be sure to place the folder just in the root of your pen drive (not in
Open the folder, locate a file named reset_mem.cmd and launch it (depending by the settings of your system you may
need to do this by right clicking and choosing Run as administrator)
Click on DBFreeV4 executable (green icon) and wait until the small white window that appears place itself on bottom
right corner of your desktop (it may take up to a minute).
On bottom side of the window click on the red button Start server or the blue
Open in browser
and the default website will open in your default browser
If the browser shows a blank page or an error click on the link Try restarting on lower right corner.
(you can also start single components manually or using scripts, but we won't explain this right here.)
DBFree does not touch the system registry or other Windows settings and does not contains any adware, ad scripts or
similar stuff: all code is visible to you in any moment prior to proceed with installation and you can check
yourself. Installation consists only into copying files.
I any case, for added security, you can simply install on a pen drive and test from there.
Any Windows PC can be turned into a home server: all you need is a permanent (always-on) internet connection and a
router supporting port mapping (a.k.a. Virtual Server).
To build and run a webserver suitable for home-office use you can use your own computer or a dedicated one.
We suggest to get a dedicated computer using a low-voltage,low consumption small-factor PC so to avoid the expense,
wear and noise of leaving a standard PC staying on all the time.
These thin-PCs of the size of set-top box are avalable second-hand for few dollars and usually come equipped with XP.
DBFree V4 is tailored for Windows 7 and above but if you intend using it on a SOHO production server with few
adjustments it will run seamlessy on any PC equipped with XP home and with at least a 1.2Ghz Atom processor and 1GB
Of course more the power the better, but the forementioned configuration in fact in most cases equals those of the
hosting-based solutions you can find around.
Another important thing you will need is a domain name to associate with your server so that people around the world
can reach you.
Home-level ADSL connections rarely offers a static IP: in other words your connection will change its address many
times a week or even during the day.
This makes practically impossible to use it in a traditional fashion where at every domani name is associated with a
given IP address to reach.
That's what Dynamic IP services are for.
We suggest using www.noip.com where you can buy either the domain name and the redirection service that points to
your server no matter what IP address it has.
This is achieved by installing a special software on the server that detects any change of IP and immediately updates
your domain settings.
Local server for intranet or small-business internet presence
A standard server for professional use has the same requirements of any SOHO solution.
The only notable differences may be the hardware and the quality of connections.
DBFree V4 is tailored for simplicity and can substain a moderate low-traffic single web site adding its database
interactions features and active page technology to any standard small business website.
In its default configuration DBFree V4 is limited to a single website, but this is more a marketing strategy than a
You can modify DBFree to support more web sites (on the same web port) but you need this probably you would be better
served from a ready-to-run solution as DBMax.
DBFree V4 rely on the Civet webserver: it is fast and lightweight but managing multiple website requires to get
involved into URL-rewriting that is something that contrasts with the ease-of-use that DBFree struggle to offer.
Thus, if you need to run multiple web sites we suggest you to choose another solution unless you're really at ease
with diving into server-side specific configurations (in wich case you would probably will better server by
installing DBFree aside to IIS 8 express). Close
Installing on a remote machine
Technically speaking there is no difference between a local or remote machine: you can install DBFree V4 on any
remote by using a remote desktop utility (like Windows own Remote Desktop) and proceed as for the other
The things change if you're planning to share the remote server among different customers. This is not a job for
DBFree V4 can - if you really want to - be used in that way (in effect running apparently multiple sub-sites from a
root one) but you would save a lot of hassles by using DBWEB instead.
To assemble a developement server just proceed as normal.
DBFree V4 integrates gracefully with other development tools like Visual Studio 2013, Eclipse and other solutions
without any interference.
Anyway you will greatly served by Microsoft Web Expression 3 or 4: you can use Visual Stusio, but our strong
suggestion is for EW4.
That, BTW, is free and supported by us (because it's the tool we are actually using).
Using as runtime
DBFree V4 can be easily stripped off and used for runtime: in facts all you have to do is to install the civet
webserver as a windows service self-starting and completely delete the GUI folder.
This will leave you with a runtime-only background-running environment that can run unattended.
There are future plans to release a dedicated version for this purpose (as we did for previous releases).
Using for Web Services
DBFree V4 can easily provide web services (i.e. database extractions of data or generation of pages on request
including web forms on-demand). No special configuration is required: all the work must be done at script-level,
typically by including the appropriate calls to pages that must provide the service on remote applications.
This can be done easily by using iframes residing on pages of the remote web and that refer to a page specifically
prepared on your DBFree-powered web server.
This way you can add some live pages even to web sites residing on low-cost hosting servers that do not supoort
dynamic pages. Close
Overview DBFree can be seen as an all-in-one data centric HTTP Server that incorporates a Database and a
programming language (MaxScript). Using DBFree you can generate dynamic content web pages using a combination of xBase-like
statements (command and functions) and HTML tags. DBFree can eventually coexist with an existing Web Server on
your system, so there is no disruption to your existing website infrastructure.
Scripting basics DBFree comes with an integrated HTTP server (Civet) which handles the generation of dynamic content HTML and
sends this back to the browser that requested the page. These pages have a “.MSP” extension (MaxScript Server Page,
or in short MaxPages). Civet can also serve static html pages, images, files aside to MaxPages, taking advantage of
the same mechanisms used by PHP dynamic pages. To make your pages dynamic you simply embed xBase scripting inside
the HTML documents.
MaxPages are really just HTML files with xBase scripting embedded within them.
Any scripting commands that are embedded within the file are executed then removed from the results.
All scripting code is hidden from the user viewing your web pages.
The script tags To distinguish the xBase code from the regular HTML inside the MaxPage file,
the code must be placed between <% and %> tags.
The tag combination notifies the Civet Server that the code within the <% and %> should be executed by the
MaxScript engine directly on server and then removed from the results before to send the page to the browser.
Any output generated by the xBase code (the results of calculations, database access or whatever it does) will be
written to the HTML page in the same exact point of the file where the script code was found. Only after this
operation has completed in the background the entire page is sent back to the web browser that requested it.
DBFree model for applications
Presumably you are reading this document because you have a certain familiarity with HTML and want to start to do some
Web development. Or maybe you're an experienced developer of desktop applications, and you're curious about the web.
Either cases starting to put togheter a web application by using DBFree is fairly easy, thanks to the application
model adopted and that we are going to introduce you briefly here. Anyway don't be fooled: developement is not that
easy - doing web pages is simple, securing them against hackers, intrusions and all the bad things that can happen in
the wild will make the simple things suddenly involved and complicated (we won't face these topics here: they
are better covered by other specialized documents).
DBFree offers a standardized model for developing applications: dbApps.
dbApps are nothing more than standard web applications written in maxScript but that conform to
detailed specifications so to be completely portable and interchangeable.
dbApps are a convenient solutions for experimenting with DBFree: they simply use DBFree as runtime environment and
borrow from the host all the basic components (styles, libraries,utilities) so you don't have to worry
about to setting them. You start you project by simply creating a subfolder inside the DBFree /APPS folder
and placing a new file in there: DBFree home page will automatically recognize it as a new application and create in
the home page a link for it. A good idea to is to start by using one of the page templates that come with DBFree.
There are templates for pages. applications or entire web sites. Templates are basic layouts that you can use as starters for your projects and
may really save
you lot of time. Visit DBFree.org to get updated templates.
There are many (maybe too many) templates for DBFree. Templates can save you lot of time during development. A
selection of templates is available on DBfree.org. Be sure to choose the one that copes with your current version.
Getting the right tools
When talking about developers the tools to use are a pure matter of taste.Anyway for developing for DBFree you will
have little choices, except for the web authoring (where there are plenty of solutions). Go to DBFree.org and see
what are the suggested tools.
Changing the default Website
Once your application has grown chances are that you will want to deploy it in your environment (being a LAN or the
In this case all you have to do is to change the default website that comes with DBFree with your own. If you want something more professional or business
oriented you may try a Web Template. Web templates are empty webs with basic layouts you can customize in aspect
and features, and use directly with your applications: they usually link automatically to the DBFRee /APPS folder and
build menus of what is inside without any need to modify the code. Web Templates are available at DBFree.org