Using Transactional Data Modules

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You can write an application server that takes advantage of special services for distributed applications that are supplied by COM+ (under Windows 2000 and later) or MTS (before Windows 2000). To do so, create a transactional data module instead of an ordinary data module.

When you use a transactional data module, your application can take advantage of the following special services:

  • Security.
    • COM+ (or MTS) provides role-based security for your application server. Clients are assigned roles, which determine how they can access the MTS data module's interface. The MTS data module implements the IsCallerInRole method, which lets you check the role of the currently connected client and conditionally allow certain functions based on that role.
  • Database handle pooling. Transactional data modules automatically pool database connections that are made via ADO or (if you are using MTS and turn on MTS POOLING) the dbExpress. When one client is finished with a database connection, another client can reuse it. This cuts down on network traffic, because your middle tier does not need to log off of the remote database server and then log on again. When pooling database handles, your database connection component should set its KeepConnection property to False, so that your application maximizes the sharing of connections.
  • Transactions. When using a transactional data module, you can provide enhanced transaction support beyond that available with a single database connection. Transactional data modules can participate in transactions that span multiple databases, or include functions that do not involve databases at all. For more information about the transaction support provided by transactional objects such as transactional data modules, see Managing Transactions in Multi-tiered Applications.
  • Just-in-time activation and as-soon-as-possible deactivation. You can write your server so that remote data module instances are activated and deactivated on an as-needed basis. When using just-in-time activation and as-soon-as-possible deactivation, your remote data module is instantiated only when it is needed to handle client requests. This prevents it from tying up resources such as database handles when they are not in use.

Using just-in-time activation and as-soon-as-possible deactivation provides a middle ground between routing all clients through a single remote data module instance, and creating a separate instance for every client connection. With a single remote data module instance, the application server must handle all database calls through a single database connection. This acts as a bottleneck, and can impact performance when there are many clients. With multiple instances of the remote data module, each instance can maintain a separate database connection, thereby avoiding the need to serialize database access. However, this monopolizes resources because other clients cannot use the database connection while it is associated with another client's remote data module.

To take advantage of transactions, just-in-time activation, and as-soon-as-possible deactivation, remote data module instances must be stateless. This means you must provide additional support if your client relies on state information. For example, the client must pass information about the current record when performing incremental fetches. For more information about state information and remote data modules in multi-tiered applications, see Supporting state information in remote data modules.

By default, all automatically generated calls to a transactional data module are transactional (that is, they assume that when the call exits, the data module can be deactivated and any current transactions committed or rolled back). You can write a transactional data module that depends on persistent state information by setting the AutoComplete property to False, but it will not support transactions, just-in-time activation, or as-soon-as-possible deactivation unless you use a custom interface.

Warning: Application servers containing transactional data modules should not open database connections until the data module is activated. While developing your application, be sure that all datasets are not active and the database is not connected before running your application. In the application itself, add code to open database connections when the data module is activated and close them when it is deactivated.

See Also