Add dbf processing capabilities to php with apache2

Registered by John McCourt on 2009-07-28

Apache2 with PHP in Ubuntu cannot process DBF files because it doesn't have the dbase extension enabled. Many companies and programs still use DBF files to hold data and converting large DBF files to other formats can slow things down at a production level.

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Case Study:

The company I work for regularly sorts large databases that are supplied in dbf format. Our systems are hosted on Ubuntu servers and developed in PHP which cannot process dbf files. This means that we need to convert the dbf files into a format that Ubuntu's PHP can process. This extra step can be significantly time consuming, especially when the databases are large. We regularly have databases with over 60,000 records. We were previously able to do this on our old FreeBsd servers which were DBF capable, but since migrating to Ubuntu this has been a major thorn in our flesh.

But dbf files are antiquated? Actually, no they aren't. Alot of companies around the world still use DBF database files and alot of commercial applications still produce dbf files as an output. Eg. MatchIT, a mailsort application that is used by mailing houses across the UK and beyond. Other applications that are DBF capable include Open Office, Microsoft Office and FoxPro and I think that reflects the fact that those files still need to be processed in some cases.

There are a number of threads on the Ubuntu forums detailing the woes of developers who need to work with this file format.

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