Mac ODBC Help

ODBC on the Macintosh

The Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) application programming interface (API) allows applications to access data in database management systems (DBMS) using Structured Query Language (SQL) as a standard for accessing data. The interface permits maximum interoperability - a single application can access different database management systems. This allows an application developer to develop, compile, and ship an application without targeting a specific DBMS. Users can then add modules called database drivers that link the application to their choice of database management system.

ODBC allows the front end client programmer to abstractly query a proprietary backend RDBMS database without overly tying the client application to that particular vendor.

When programming to interact with an ODBC compliant database you need to communicate via the ODBC protocol (a combination of ODBC API function calls and the SQL language). The ODBC Manager will figure out how to contend with the type of database you are targeting. Regardless of the database type you are using, all of your calls will be to the ODBC API. All that you need to do is have installed an ODBC driver that is specific to the type of database you will be using.

With the introduction of REALbasic the rapid development of Apple Macintosh applications which can act as front-ends to industrial strength backend databases (such as SYBASE , ORACLE etc. running on Sun UNIX systems) is now possible. Until now, however, the information on the missing link 'ODBC' for the Macintosh has been difficult to obtain. This web page is designed to help you go from concept, to REALbasic ODBC client application, to backend ODBC compliant Database, to product.

This page is about ODBC and not JDBC.  

FileMaker Pro now has SQL Builder and ODBC import capabilities as well as an ODBC Server plugin.

I have written a Sybase Browser and isql replacement application for Win32 and Macintosh.

Some ODBC Background:

ODBC on Macintosh is implemented via shared libraries installed in the System Folder. The GUI interface to these libraries is generally a control panel, called "ODBC Setup PPC" (or some such) and the most important step in setting up an ODBC connection is creating an "ODBC data source".

The "ODBC Setup PPC" control panel will allow you to administer multiple ODBC data sources.

An "ODBC data source" connection is simply the logical join between the backend database (and the details needed to talk to that server e.g. DBMS logon name, password, IP address) and the specific ODBC driver (shared lib) for that particular vendor (e.g. SYBASE). These connections are either of type "User DSN" (User Data Source Name. i.e. a remote database where a network connection is required), "File DSN" (File Data Source Name, i.e. a local file on this machine contains the information) or "Server DSN" (Server Data Source Name, i.e. a minimally configured client interfaces with an centrally administered ODBC master server that communicates with the DBMS). This information gives the ODBC driver manager the ability to act as the conduit between the Client Macintosh application and the DBMS.

With the connections set, the ODBC system is now enabled as the Babel fish between your client application and the backend server. Remember your app (or REALbasic) talks to the ODBC shared libraries and not the actual DBMS.

Some Mac ODBC Middleware software:

ODBC Aware Vendors Notes
Actual Technologies, LLC Our Actual ODBC Driver for SQL Server lets Mac OS X user connect to Microsoft SQL Server and Sybase databases from applications such as Excel and FileMaker Pro.

The driver supports both types of SQL Server authentication and requires nothing to be installed on the server.

It is available for $30 USD for a single user license. A non-expiring demo version is also available from our website.

Openlink Software OpenLink Software have been providing ODBC solutions for Mac users for several years. They have recently been active in this area and have a number of software releases.

Open-source (BSD and LGPL licensed) iODBC Driver Manager for Mac OS 8.6-9.x and Mac OS X, complete with SDK for the building of both ODBC Drivers and Applications.

Universal Data Access Suite -- a Multi-Tier ODBC solution delivering connectivity from Mac OS 7+ and Mac OS X to most major DBMS on most major OS.

Virtuoso -- Internet Data Integration Server.

ODBC Gateway by Team FXML A free, GPL'd ODBC/XML gateway that runs on Windows NT. I have written a REALbasic socket demo that can talk to this WindowsNT server process. It allows ODBC connectivity without installing Macintosh Drivers.

August Software

Server DSN setup. Allows one primary NT server to manager all ODBC configurations. Macintosh clients simply connect to this Windows NT ODBC router. Augsoft have also recently been very active in this area and have a number of new software releases are available. Excellent info docs are available.


In latest release, the hardware key is NOT required!

ODBC Router

Latest Downloads

MacOS Driver & SDK Download page

MacOS Darwin/PPCLinux/Linux SDK Download page

NT/2000 ODBC Router Server Download page

New MacODBC SDK (for C/C++ developers)

MERANT (INTERSOLV/ DataDirect Connect

Version 3.02 ODBC interface drivers Manual

v3 ODBC interface compliant drivers.

Difficult to find information on their poorly organised web site. Macintosh info is buried deep in the supposedly cross-platform manuals. Seems to have lost Mac focus. The single Mac programmer Peter Kaplan left in mid 1999.

FileMaker 4.1 may still be supplying the older INTERSOLV Sybase driver version 3.0.2 PPC. This driver will cause a freeze or crash if it is selected from within the Select Data Source dialog in FileMaker Pro.

Has Macintosh ODBC drivers as well as SequeLink ODBC drivers. The later is a 'universal' driver that communicates to the SequeLink Server which in turn connects to the SQL database. Sequelink ODBC driver costs about $100 USD per client in packs of 20. Amazingly, it works well...

UPDATE: MERANT recently obtained the services of a new Mac marketing manager who appears keen to reverse MERANT's previous form with Mac ODBC drivers. He seems keen to make them work again - Good Luck Greg Stasko

UPDATE 2: MERANT recently out-sourced their ODBC driver sales to - MetroTech sell the latest ODBC and Sequelink drivers.

UPDATE 3: According to sources, Merant has spun off their DataDirect business in a sale to Golden Gate Capital; what this means to Mac users has yet to be determined.

UPDATE 4: According to yet more sources....

RE: ...MERANT's DataDirect division was puchased by Golden Gate Capital which is correct. That portion of the company is now it's own private company called DataDirect Technologies ( and they are still moving forward with their Mac drivers. They have recently released version 4.0 of their ODBC drivers on Mac (all other platforms are at version 4.1) which include a few "Wire Protocol" drivers which are a real plus. Wire Protocol drivers speak directly to the database rather than through some client software which cuts out the middle man. This not only allows you to connect to DBs with only one piece of software but also speeds things up.
It should be noted that File Maker's drivers are actually embeded DataDirect drivers. The latest version of FileMaker Pro uses the 4.0 drivers.
The drivers can be purchased directly from DataDirect Technologies or through DataVisions (formerly Metro).
As of now there is a single mac developer working on the drivers.
Unfortunately, there is no SequeLink 5.3 driver on mac. 5.3 is the latest version.
Hope this info is helpful to you.
ps, I have also heard rumors of them porting their existing unix drivers to native Darwin/Unix but have no idea if this is actually going to happen.

UPDATE 4: According to reliable sources ;-)....

"Metro Technologies, L.L.C. ceased operations on January 31, 2002. The then current CEO (Gary Dotzlaw) and myself (Russell J. Cerqua) started a new company called Datavations LLC. We were able to get the contract with DataDirect to be the primary distributor of their Mac ODBC drivers. You still have a reference to the Metro Technologies website, which is currently being redirected to, our new company's website.
Secondly, there was a management buy-out of the DataDirect business of Merant. The new company is appropriately known as DataDirect Technologies, Inc. While the names Intersolv and Merant are still out there with regards to ODBC drivers, everything is slowly but surely changing over to DataDirect Technologies, Inc.
Thanks for your time, and when you have a moment, check out our website at"
Visigenic - ODBC for Macintosh. Have stopped making ODBC driver for all platforms. Was the basis for the 'Apple ODBC' libraries. There are reports that the older versions are starting to fail under MacOS 9. Visigenic was purchased by Intersolv, before the merger that built Merant.
 Primebase (uses the visigenic drivers, also has a Mac SQL server)

 Very active Mac focussed company. Looks interesting. RB has a native plugin.


Go to this web site and you might also find the old Visigenic/Apple ODBC control panel software

FileMaker Pro (See also the FM ODBC plugin by Professional Data Management ) Mac CD has older INTERSOLV ODBC installer. Installer adds drivers for Oracle, text , dBase and FoxDb, Sybase databases (Sybase driver has crashing bug - need to upgrade to SequeLink Drivers). Started to offer FM as an ODBC server via ODBC server plugin.
Microsoft Office 98 MSOffice 98 CD contains "a Value Pack" with drivers to different dbms including MS SQL, Oracle, etc.
Apple MacODBC

Apple have signed a mult-year agreement with MERANT to ensure that ODBC drivers are available. Is this just more MERANT lip-service? Time will tell.

v2 ODBC interfaces were marked as unsupported but are now no longer available for download from Apple's web site.

 REALbasic Various drivers Allows the creation of powerful client applications that can access ODBC Data Sources.



JDBC is a version of ODBC for Java applications. Macintosh Java applications can have the JDBC libraries included in the runtime application to allow connection to the RDBMS without installation of the ODBC shared libraries. This allows the app to by launched without installing any extra information into the system folder and works very well. For more info on JDBC try Metrowerks and Sun.


Some helpful links:




ODBC - Open Database Connectivity
API - application programming interface
DBMS - (Relational) Database Management System
SQL - Structured Query Language
Babel fish - A mythical fish that when placed in the ear, translates every spoken language into your native tongue (from Author Douglas Adams).