dbExpress is a set of database drivers that provide fast access to a variety of SQL database servers. For each supported type of database, dbExpress provides a driver that adapts the server-specific software to a set of uniform dbExpress interfaces. When you deploy a database application that uses dbExpress, you need only include a dll (the server-specific driver) with the application files you build.
dbExpress lets you access databases using unidirectional datasets, which are designed for quick lightweight access to database information, with minimal overhead. Unidirectional datasets can only retrieve a unidirectional cursor. They do not buffer data in memory, which makes them faster and less resource-intensive than other types of dataset. However, because there are no buffered records, unidirectional datasets are also less flexible than other datasets. For example, the only supported navigation methods are the First and Next methods. Most others raise exceptions. Some, such as the methods involved in bookmark support, simply do nothing.
There is no built-in support for editing because editing requires a buffer to hold the edits. The CanModify property is always False, so attempts to put the dataset into edit mode always fail. You can, however, use unidirectional datasets to update data using an SQL UPDATE command or provide conventional editing support by using a dbExpress-enabled client dataset or connecting the dataset to a client dataset.
There is no support for filters, because filters work with multiple records, which requires buffering. If you try to filter a unidirectional dataset, it raises an exception. Instead, all limits on what data appears must be imposed using the SQL command that defines the data for the dataset.
There is no support for lookup fields, which require buffering to hold multiple records containing lookup values. If you define a lookup field on a unidirectional dataset, it does not work properly.
Despite these limitations, unidirectional datasets are a powerful way to access data. They are the fastest data access mechanism, and very simple to use and deploy.