Use and Advantages of Apache Derby DB


Developed by Apache Software Foundation, Apache Derby DB is a completely free, open-source relational database system developed purely with Java. It has multiple advantages that make it a popular choice for Java applications requiring small to medium-sized databases.

Reliable and Secure

With over 15 years in development, Derby DB had time to grow, add new and improve on the existing components. Even though it has an extremely small footprint – only 3.5MB of all JAR files – Derby is a full-featured ANSI SQL database, supporting all the latest SQL standards, transactions, and security factors.

The small footprint adds to its versatility and portability – Derby can easily be embedded into Java applications with almost no performance impact. It’s extremely easy to install and configure, requiring almost no administration afterward. Once implemented, there is no need to further modify or set up the database at the end user’s computer. Alongside the embedded framework, Derby can also be used in a more familiar server mode.

All documentation containing different manuals for specific versions of Derby can be found on their official website, at :

Cross-Platform Support

Java is compatible with almost all the different platforms, including Windows, Linux, and MacOS. Since Derby DB is implemented completely in Java, it can be easily transferred without the need for different distribution downloads. It can use all types of Java Virtual Machines as long as they’re properly certified. Apache’s Derby includes the Derby code without any modification to the elemental source code.

Derby supports transactions, which are executed for quick and secure data retrieval from the database as well as referential integrity. Even though the stored procedures are made in Java, in the client/server mode Derby can bind to PHP, Python and Perl programming languages. 

All data is encrypted, with support for database triggers to maintain the integrity of the information. Alongside that, custom made functions can be created with any Java library so the users can manipulate the data however they want. 

Embedded and Server Modes

Derby’s embedded mode is usually recommended as a beginner-friendly option. The main differences are in who manages the database along with how it’s stored. 

When Derby is integrated as a whole and becomes a part of the main program, it acts as a persistent data store and the database is managed through the application. It also runs within the Java Virtual Machine of the application. In this mode, no other user is able to access the database – only the app that it is integrated into. As a result of these limits, the embedded mode is most useful for single-user apps.

If it’s run in server mode, the user starts a Derby network server which is tasked with responding to database requests. Derby runs in a Java Virtual Machine that hosts the server. The database is loaded onto the server, waiting for client applications to connect to it. This is the most typical architecture used by most of the other bigger databases, such as MySQL. Server mode is highly beneficial when more than one user needs to have access to the database across the network.

Downloading Derby

Derby has to be downloaded and extracted from the .zip package before being used. Downloads can be found at the Apache’s official website:

Numerous download options are presented on there, depending on the Java version that the package is going to be used with. 

Using Derby requires having Java Development Kit (JDK) pre-installed on the system and then configuring the environment to use the JDBC driver. Official tutorials can be found at:

Running and Manipulating Derby DB

Interacting with Derby is done through the use of ‘ij’ tool, which is an interactive JDBC scripting program. It can be used for running interactive queries and scripts against a Derby database. The ij tool is run through the command shell.

The initial Derby connection command differs depending on whether it’s going to be run in embedded or server mode.

For a tutorial on how to use the connect commands, check out https://www.vogella.com/tutorials/ApacheDerby/article.html.

Some Useful Derby DB Documentation

Derby Reference Manual‎: ‎

Derby Server and Administration Guide‎: ‎

API Reference‎:

Derby Tools and Utilities Guide‎: ‎

ij Basics

In conclusion, Derby DB is a lightweight yet efficient tool that can be integrated into various types of Java applications with ease.