Back-End Data Accessing - Web Service Testing

Data in a Web system is often distributed. That is, it resides on one or more (server) computers other than the client computer. There are several methods of storing data on a back-end server. For example, data can be stored in flat files, in a nonrelational database, in a relational database, or in an object-oriented database. In a typical Web application system, it's common that a relational database is employed so that data accessing and manipulation can be more efficient comparing to flat-file database.

In a flat-file system, when a query is initiated, the results of that query are dumped into files on a storage device. An application then opens, reads, and manipulates data from these files and generates reports on behalf of the user. To get to the data, the applications need to know exactly where files are located and what their names are. Access security is usually imposed at the application level.

In contrast, a database, such as a relational database, stores data in tables of records. Through the database engine, applications access data by getting a set of records without knowing where the physical data files are located or what they are named. Data in relational databases are accessed via database names (not to be mistaken with file names) and table names. Relational database files can be stored on multiple servers. Web systems using a relational database can impose security at the application server level, the database server level, as well at the database user level.

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