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Generate PDB files in C#

, 10 Jan 2006 GPL3
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This article shows how to create a .pdb file to use as database on Palm devices.

PDB Generator

Basics of Palm databases

Palm devices use two types of database files: PRC and PDB (i.e., .prc and .pdb). PRC is used for Palm OS databases that are application programs, and stores resources of the application, while the PDB (Pilot Database) is used for Palm OS databases that contain only data. Both databases have a unique key that is unique for each application. These databases can be manipulated like stream reading and stream writing. It contains an attribute bit called the Backup Bit. Setting this bit indicates that no custom conduit will be backing up the database and that the database should be backed up during the HotSync process. If you create a database on the Palm Pilot and set the Backup Bit, you will find a copy of the database in PDB format in the Backup directory on the computer with which the HotSync was performed.

This application reads a CSV or an XML file and creates a .pdb file.

Major Sections of the PDB File

A PDB file format contains three sections:

  1. Header section
  2. Recordlist section
  3. Datalist section

i. Header Section

The header section contains 78 bytes, containing the name of the database and other information. Also, contained is the ID of the database that is unique for an application (the ID is globally unique, and can be obtained from the Palm OS site), the type of the database, and other attributes. The PDBHeader class is used to create headers.

class PDBHeader
{
    #region Declarations
    char[] databaseName={'\0','\0','\0','\0','\0','\0','\0', 
                         '\0','\0','\0','\0','\0','\0','\0','\0',
                         '\0','\0','\0','\0','\0','\0','\0','\0',
                         '\0','\0','\0','\0','\0','\0','\0',
                         '\0','\0'};   // 32 Bytes

    UInt16 fileAttributes = 0X0008;    // 2 Bytes
    UInt16 version = 0X0000;           // 2 Bytes
    UInt32 creationDate;               // 4 Bytes
    UInt32 modificationDate;           // 4 Bytes
    UInt32 lastBackupDate;             // 4 Bytes
    UInt32 modification=0X0000;        // 4 Bytes
    UInt32 appInfoArea=0X0000;         // 4 Bytes
    UInt32 sortInfoArea=0X0000;        // 4 Bytes
    char[]  type={'d','a','t','a'};    // 4 Bytes
    char[]  creatorID;                 // 4 Bytes
    UInt32 uniqueID=0X0000;            // 4 Bytes
    UInt32 nextRecord=0X0000;          // 4 Bytes
    UInt16 numRecords;                 // 2 Bytes
    #endregion 

    #region Properties
    public UInt16 NumRecords
    {
        set
        {
            numRecords=value;
        }
        get
        {
            return numRecords;
        }
    }
    public DateTime CreationDate
    {
        set
        {
            TimeSpan ts=DateTime.Now-value;
            creationDate=(UInt32)ts.TotalSeconds;
        }
    }
    public DateTime ModificationDate
    {
        set
        {
            TimeSpan ts=DateTime.Now-value;
            modificationDate=(UInt32)ts.TotalSeconds;
        }
    }
    public DateTime LastBackupDate
    {
        set
        {
            TimeSpan ts=DateTime.Now-value;
            lastBackupDate=(UInt32)ts.TotalSeconds;
        }
    }

    public string CreatorID
    {
        set
        {
            if (value.Length==4)
            {
                creatorID=value.ToCharArray();
            }
            else
            {
                throw new PDBException("Creator ID" + 
                  " is invalid (must be 4 charactors)");;
            }
        }
        get
        {
            return new String(creatorID);
        }
    }

    public string DataBaseName
    {
        set
        {
            if (value.Length<=32)
            {
                databaseName=value.ToCharArray();
            }
            else
            {
                
                throw new PDBException("Database Name" + 
                             " Exceeds 32 Charactors");;
            }
        }
        get
        {
            return new String(databaseName);
        }
    }

    #endregion 

    #region Functions

    public PDBHeader()
    {
        // Palm databse store total number
        // of seconds since 01-01-1904
        TimeSpan ts=
          DateTime.Now-DateTime.Parse("01-01-1904");
        creationDate=(UInt32)ts.TotalSeconds;
        modificationDate=(UInt32)ts.TotalSeconds;
        lastBackupDate=(UInt32)ts.TotalSeconds;
        numRecords=0;
    }

    public override string ToString()
    {
        string getAll="";
        getAll+=HexEncoding.GetStringToChar(databaseName,32);
        getAll+=fileAttributes.ToString("X4");
        getAll+=version.ToString("X4");
        getAll+=creationDate.ToString("X8");
        getAll+=modificationDate.ToString("X8");
        
        
        getAll+=lastBackupDate.ToString("X8");        
        getAll+=modification.ToString("X8");
        getAll+=appInfoArea.ToString("X8");    
        getAll+=sortInfoArea.ToString("X8");
        getAll+=HexEncoding.GetStringToChar(type,4);
        getAll+=HexEncoding.GetStringToChar(creatorID,4);
        getAll+=uniqueID.ToString("X8");
        getAll+=nextRecord.ToString("X8");
        getAll+=numRecords.ToString("X4");

        return getAll;
    }

ii. RecordList Section

The size of the recordlist section depends on the number of records. Each record uses 8 bits to store record information. The PDBRecordList class is used to represent a recordlist.

class PDBRecordList
{
    #region Declarations
    UInt32 offset=0;   // 4 Bytes (Offset of the record)
    byte recordAttribute=0X40;
    char[] uniqueID={'\0','\0','\0'}; // 3 Bytes (Unique ID for each record)
    string dataRecord=""; // Record data for current record
    #endregion 

    #region Properties
    public string DataRecord
    {
        set
        {
            dataRecord=value;
        }
        get
        {
            return dataRecord;
        }
    }
    public UInt32 RecordOffset
    {
        set
        {
            offset=value;
        }
        get
        {
            return offset;
        }
    }
    #endregion 

    #region Functions
    public PDBRecordList(string str)
    {
        dataRecord=str;
    }
    public override string ToString()
    {

        string getAll="";
        getAll+=offset.ToString("X8");
        getAll+=recordAttribute.ToString("X2");        
        getAll+=HexEncoding.GetStringToChar(uniqueID,3);
        return getAll;
    }

    #endregion
}

iii. Data Section

It is the main section to store information related to the records. Each record is separated by a null terminated character ('\0'). The size of each record may vary but the number of columns should be the same.

Using the code

The PDBCreators class is used to create databases.

class PDBCreators
{
    PDBHeader header=new PDBHeader();
    ArrayList pdbRecord=new ArrayList();
    public PDBCreators()
    {
    }
    public PDBHeader PDBHeaders
    {
        set
        {
            header=value;
        }
        get
        {
            return header;
        }
    }
    public Object[] AddRecord
    {
        set
        {
            string row="";
            for (int i=0; i<value.Length; i++)
            {
                if (value[i].GetType().ToString()=="System.Int32")  
                    continue;
                row+=value[i].ToString().Trim()+'\0';
            }
            pdbRecord.Add(new PDBRecordList(row));
        }
    }

    public void GeneratePDB(string fileName)
    {
        try
        {
            FileStream fs=new FileStream(fileName,FileMode.Create);
            BinaryWriter bw=new BinaryWriter(fs);
            int discard=0;
            UInt32 index=78;     // Header length is 78 Bytes
            header.NumRecords=(UInt16)pdbRecord.Count;

            bw.Write(HexEncoding.GetBytes(header.ToString(), 
                                              out discard));

            // start index of Data List Area
            index+=(UInt32)(pdbRecord.Count*8)+2;
            string result="";
            for (int i=0; ipdbRecord.Count; i++)
            {
                PDBRecordList rec=(PDBRecordList)pdbRecord[i];
                rec.RecordOffset=index;
                bw.Write(HexEncoding.GetBytes(rec.ToString(), 
                                               out discard));
                index+=(UInt32)rec.DataRecord.Length;
                result+=rec.DataRecord;
            }
            char[] padding={'\0','\0'};  // Two bytes for backup bits
            bw.Write(HexEncoding.GetBytes(
              HexEncoding.GetStringToChar(padding,2), 
              out discard));
            result=HexEncoding.GetStringToChar(
              result.ToCharArray(),result.Length);
            bw.Write(HexEncoding.GetBytes(result,out discard));
            bw.Close();
            fs.Close();
        }
        catch (Exception exc)
        {
            throw new PDBException("Error" + 
              " in writing pdb file "+exc.Message);
        }

    }
}

The PDBGenerator reads two file formats (CSV and XML) and displays data in table format in a DataGrid. This data can be changed. It reads all table data from the XML file and displays table names in a combo box.

PDBCreators pdb=new PDBCreators();
pdb.PDBHeaders.DataBaseName=this.txtDBName.Text;
pdb.PDBHeaders.CreatorID=this.txtCreatorID.Text;

DataTable recordsTable;
if (recordsDataSet.Tables.Count>0 && 
        this.cmbTableNames.Items.Count>0 && 
        recordsDataSet.Tables.Contains(this.cmbTableNames.Text))
    recordsTable=recordsDataSet.Tables[this.cmbTableNames.Text];
else
{
    MessageBox.Show("There is no table to convert", 
          "PDB Generator",MessageBoxButtons.OK,
          MessageBoxIcon.Information);
    return;
}
for (int i=0; i<recordsTable.Rows.Count; i++)
    pdb.AddRecord=recordsTable.Rows[i].ItemArray;
try
{
    pdb.GeneratePDB(this.txtDestination.Text+"\\"+
                      this.txtDBName.Text+".pdb");
    MessageBox.Show("PDB Generated Successfully",
      "PDB Generator",MessageBoxButtons.OK,
      MessageBoxIcon.Information);
}
catch(Exception exc)
{
    MessageBox.Show("Error in PDB Generation"+exc.ToString(),
      "PDB Generator",MessageBoxButtons.OK,
      MessageBoxIcon.Information);
}

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The GNU General Public License (GPLv3)

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About the Author

MRSumra
Web Developer
Pakistan Pakistan
I'm working as Software Engineer at ISF (Islamabad Software Factory) in Pakistan and involves in multiple products having different languages in different phases. My favourite areas are PDA's, Palm's, .Net and webservices......

Comments and Discussions

 
Generalrle compression of content PinmemberUnruled Boy27-Nov-09 22:58 
GeneralNice, but the PDB generated can't be read by my application. PinmemberMember 45957942-Jul-08 5:56 
GeneralRe: Nice, but the PDB generated can't be read by my application. PinmemberMRSumra2-Jul-08 19:14 
GeneralRe: Nice, but the PDB generated can't be read by my application. PinmemberMember 45957944-Jul-08 4:06 
GeneralRe: Nice, but the PDB generated can't be read by my application. PinmemberMember 45957948-Jul-08 4:22 
Generalpdb use PinmemberMember 23874258-Apr-08 2:57 
GeneralRe: pdb use PinmemberMRSumra9-Apr-08 0:17 
GeneralRe: pdb use PinmemberMember 23874259-Apr-08 3:02 
GeneralRe: pdb use PinmemberMRSumra9-Apr-08 6:49 
GeneralRe: pdb use PinmemberMember 45957948-Jul-08 4:30 
GeneralDoes not seem to work. PinmemberMurdocMA25-Jun-07 5:32 
GeneralRe: Does not seem to work. Pinmemberrobertoy28-Sep-07 5:21 
QuestionRe: Does not seem to work. Pinmemberneal0071-Oct-07 11:11 
Hello,
 
Can you send me the VB.NET source please? Please send to neal AT nc-software DOT com.
 
Thank you.
 
Neal Culiner
President, NC Software, Inc.

QuestionSync PDB and SQL Server 2005 PinmemberHandyGuy15-Jun-07 9:45 
GeneralPDB record header Pinmembermihasic3-May-07 2:39 
GeneralAnd PDB to XML Pinmemberjohatenxxx7-Mar-07 11:27 
GeneralRead write Pinmemberpablojag2-Aug-06 6:33 
GeneralRe: Read write Pinmemberjulgui12-Sep-06 23:29 
Questionwhat does padding mean? PinmemberDarekKawczynski31-Jul-06 4:34 
AnswerRe: what does padding mean? PinmemberMRSumra2-Aug-06 4:18 
GeneralPDB generator in C# PinmemberTime Lord18-Jul-06 12:05 
GeneralGreat code Pinmemberrobertoy17-Jul-06 13:03 
GeneralRe: Great code PinmemberMRSumra20-Jul-06 4:16 
QuestionHow to install sqlce for PPC device? Pinmemberluongthang17-Jun-06 22:24 
GeneralNot working for me Pinmemberhaucks12-Apr-06 6:52 

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