The VistaDB client runtime is free. The runtime will never “expire at 3am” as you put it. Only the developer tools are licensed in that manner. You need 1 license per developer, simple. We even offer a really inexpensive Lite version with no Visual Studio tools.
Some other benefits
100% managed code – there are no interop or other unmanaged calls in the engine. This is a big deal to some, and others couldn’t care less.
No registry access required – Most other in proc databases require registry access to look for parent controls, or permissions. VistaDB only does what you tell it to do, and will even run in Medium Trust.
XCopy deployment for runtime and your database (single file). You can xcopy you application, the runtime, and your database and run. Nothing to install or configure on the machine, no special privileges needed (we can run in Medium Trust or higher).
Isolated storage – You can put your entire database into Isolated Storage and run it from there directly. This makes it very easy to build secure click once applications that write databases in a domain friendly way for corporate environments. There is no need to store the user data on a shared drive or worry about permission mapping.
CLR Triggers / CLR Procs – You can write CLR Code and use them as Triggers or Stored Procs. We have just recently introduced changes to make it even easier to maintain a single CLR Assembly that can run in both VistaDB and SQL Server 2005/2008.
T-SQL Procs – VistaDB T-SQL Procs are compatible with SQL Server 2005/2008. Any procedure that works in our engine will run in SQL Server. That does not mean anything that runs there will port to us. We are a subset of the functionality in SQL Server. But we are also the only way to run T-SQL Procs without SQL Server (SQL CE can’t do it).
I personally think one of the biggest features is the ability to upsize to SQL Server later. All of the VistaDB types, syntax, and CLR Procs, T-SQL procs, etc all will run on SQL Server. (You can’t take everything from SQL Server down to VistaDB though, it is a subset)
32/64 bit Deployment – VistaDB is a single assembly deployment that runs both 32 and 64 bit without changes. SQL CE requires two different runtimes depending upon the OS, and cannot run under IIS at all.
Access has no 64 bit runtime, and the most recent 32 bit runtime can only be deployed through MSI. The 32 bit version of Windows has the runtime, the 64 bit version does not.
Relational Integrity – VistaDB also actually enforces your constraints and Foreign Keys. You can specific cascade update, and delete operations. The person who commented we are like SQLITE is wrong in this regard. They parse constraints, but do not enforce them.
EDIT: They do have support for FK’s now in SQLite. But they are not compiled in by default, and do not use the same syntax as SQL Server.
Medium Trust – The ability to run on a medium trust web server is another feature that many will not care about, but it is a big deal. Many third party controls can’t even run in Medium Trust. We can run the complete engine within Medium Trust because of our commitment to 100% managed code and least permission required.
– Full disclosure – I am the owner of VistaDB so I may be biased. 🙂
Well, the main thing is that it is pure managed code – for what that is worth; it works not only on your typical Windows machines running .NET, but works wherever you run the Compact Framework and even works on Mono. Here are some noteworthy bullet points from their homepage:
- Small < 1 MB footprint truly embedded ZeroClick
- Microsoft SQL Server 2005 compatible data types and T-SQL syntax
- None of the SQL CE limits
- Single user, multi user local or using shared network.
- Partially trusted shared hosting is no problem.
- Royalty-free distribution – single CPU deployment of SQL Server costs more than a site license of VistaDB!
One thing worth noting is that Rob Howard’s company, telligent, uses it as the default database for their new CMS software, “Graffiti.”
I have played with it here and there but have yet to build anything against it.
For me this most interesting feature of VistaDB is that it can be run in Medium Trust environment. Which makes it perfect solution for creating small to medium .NET websites which can be deployed on server by copying and pasting (x-copy deployment).
And almost all windows shared hosting providers (like GoDaddy) won’t let you run your websites in Full Trust mode. And also won’t install for you any 3rd party binaries into GAC like System.Data.SQLite.dll if you wish to use SQLite for example.