JDBC Driver Types Example

1. Introduction

In this example we will review different JDBC Driver Types. We will write a simple Java application to demonstrate how to use JDBC connectivity steps to access an SQLite database.

JDBC stands for Java DataBase Connectivity. It was introduced in Java Development Kit (JDK) version 1.1. It’s an application programming interface (API) that allows Java programs to interact with a database. It is part of the Java Standard Edition platform (Java SE).

A JDBC driver is a software component that allows a Java program to interact with a Database. It implements the interfaces defined in the JDBC API. Database vendors implements the behaviors defined in the JDBC API in their database drivers.

We all know, Java can operate on a wide variety of hardware platforms and operating systems thus the driver implementation also varies. JDBC drivers are categorized into following four types:

Type 1 – JDBC – ODBC Bridge
Type 2 – Native API Driver
Type 3 – Network Protocol Driver (Middleware Driver)
Type 4 – Database Protocol Driver (Pure Java) or thin driver

1.1 Type 1 – JDBC – ODBC Bridge

As the name indicates type 1 driver uses the ODBC driver installed on the client machine to interact with the database. It converts the JDBC method calls into ODBC function calls.


  • Any database that provides an ODBC driver can be accessed


  • Features are limited and restricted to what ODBC driver is capable of
  • Platform dependent as it uses ODBC which in turn uses native O/S libraries
  • ODBC driver must be installed on client machine
  • No support from JDK 8 (1.8)
  • Limited portability as ODBC driver may not be available for all platforms

1.2 Type 2 – Native API Driver

Type 2 drivers use the client side libraries of the database. The driver converts JDBC method calls into native database API calls.


  • Faster than JDBC-ODBC bridge as there is no conversion like ODBC involved


  • Client side libraries needs to be installed on client machine
  • Driver is platform dependent
  • Not all database vendors provide client side libraries

1.3 Type 3 – Network Protocol Driver (Middleware Driver)

Type 3 driver makes use of middle tier between the Java programs and the database. Middle tier is an application server that converts JDBC calls into vendor-specific database calls.


  • No need to install any client side libraries on client machine
  • Middleware application server can provide additional functionalities
  • Database independence


  • Requires middleware specific configurations and coding
  • May add extra latency as it goes through middleware server

1.4 Type 4 – Database Protocol Driver (Pure Java) or thin driver

Type 4 drivers are also called Pure Java Driver. It converts JDBC calls directly into vendor-specific database protocol.


  • Written completely in Java hence platform independent
  • Provides better performance than Type 1 and 2 drivers as there is no protocol specific conversion is required
  • Better than Type 3 drivers as it doesn’t need additional middleware application servers
  • Connects directly to database drivers without going through any other layer


  • Drivers are database specific

Type 4 drivers are preferred if the Java application is accessing one database such as Oracle, Sybase, etc. In case multiple databases are accessed then a Type 3 driver would be preferable. Type 2 drivers are recommended, if Type 3 or 4 drivers are not available for the database. Type 1 drivers are not recommended for production deployment.

2. JDBC Connectivity Steps

Now that we have gone through different JDBC driver types, let’s review the steps that is required to interact with a database using JDBC.

  • Import all necessary JDBC packages
  • Register JDBC driver (Optional since JDBC 4.0)
  • Establish a connection
  • Create a statement
  • Execute the query
  • Process data
  • Close connection

2.1 Import necessary JDBC packages

There are two primary packages for JDBC; java.sql and javax.sql. Initially javax.sql package was an extension to java.sql package. However, both are now part of Java SE (Standard Edition).

2.2 Register JDBC driver

Registering the driver allows the JVM to load the driver into memory. Class.forName() is used to load the driver dynamically.

Note: Since JDBC 4.0 it’s optional to register the driver explicitly. We just need to put the vendor jar file in the classpath. JDBC driver manager will detect and load the driver automatically. We will see it in action in our application later.

2.3 Establish a connection

We can use DriverManager's getConnection method to establish a database connection. There are three overloaded getConnection methods.

  • getConnection(String URL)URL is the address or path that points to the database
  • getConnection(String URL, Properties prop) – In addition to URL, this methods allows to pass driver properties in key-value pairs
  • getConnection(String URL, String user, String password) – This is the most common method used. It allows to pass the database username and password

2.4 Create a statement

A statement is an interface that represents an SQL statement. Once we have a connection object, we can create a statement object using the createStatement method. There are three different types of statements:

  • Statement – Used for simple static SQL statements without any parameters
  • PreparedStatement – Used for pre-compiled SQL statements with parameters. It allows to supply the values of the parameters during runtime
  • CallableStatement – Used to execute stored procedures that may contain both input and output parameters

2.5 Execute the query

To execute the query use one of the execute methods of the statement object. There are 3 methods available:

  • execute – Returns true if the first object returned is a ResultSet. Use this if query can return multiple ResultSets
  • executeQuery – Returns one ResultSet object
  • executeUpdate – Returns an integer that indicates the number of rows affected by the query. This is used for INSERT, DELETE and UPDATE SQL statements

2.6 Process data

Executing a query returns a ResultSet, which is a table of data representing database result set. We can access the data in a ResultSet through a cursor. The cursor is a pointer to one row of data in a ResultSet, it’s not a database cursor. Initially, the cursor is positioned before the first row.

2.7 Close connection

The last step is to close the connection so that the resources are released immediately. Connection object provide a close() method for the same.

3. JDBC Example in Action

Let’s put together what we have learnt so far in a real example. We will develop a Java application to access SQLite database. The sample database we are going to use is called Chinook. It represents a digital media store, including tables for artists, albums, media tracks, invoices and customers. We will run a query to retrieve all artist names from the artists table.

3.1 Technologies used

For this example, we will use the following tools in a Windows 64-bit platform:

  • NetBeans – 8.2
  • Java – 1.8.0_161
  • SQLite JDBC Driver – 3.23.1
  • SQLite Sample Database (Chinook) – 1.4

3.2 Pre-requisites

  1. We need to prepare our environment before we can start writing code. First of all we need the Java driver for SQLite database, which we can download from here
  2. Instead of creating a database from scratch we will use SQLite sample database called chinook. Go ahead and download the Chinook_Sqlite.sqlite file from here

I am going to use NetBeans IDE for this example, the steps will be similar for any other editor.

3.3 Create NetBeans Project

We will use the new project wizard to create a Java application. To do so, click on New Project button on the main toolbar or press Control + Shift + N on Windows (Cmd + Shift + N on Mac). Select Java from Categories list and Java Application from Projects list. Press Next.

JDBC Driver Types - Choose project
Choose project

Enter a Project Name, select a location on your hard disk. Project Folder will be filled automatically based on name and location. Press Finish.

JDBC Driver Types - Name and location
Name and location

Let’s create two folders for our database and driver files.
Right click on project and select New > Folder. Enter a folder name (I used lib). We will use this for our SQLite JDBC driver. Press Finish.

JDBC Driver Types - Create lib folder
Create lib folder

Right click on the project again and select New > Folder. Enter a folder name (I used db). We will use this for our database. Press Finish.

JDBC Driver Types - Creating db folder
Creating db folder

Copy the Chinook_Sqlite.sqlite file and paste it into the db folder. Similarly, copy the sqlite-jdbc-3.23.1.jar file and paste it in lib folder.

As I mentioned earlier we will have to provide the JDBC driver jar file so that JVM can load it automatically. In order to do that, right click on the project name and select properties.
Click on Libraries and press Add Jar/Folder button.

JDBC Driver Types - JAR file to project properties
Adding JAR file to project properties

Select the Jar file that we copied to the lib folder, press Open.

JDBC Driver Types - Selecting JAR file
Selecting JAR file

Now we are all set to write our Java application to access the Chinook database. Here is the listing of JDBCSQLiteExample.java.


package com.jcg.jdbcexamples;

import java.sql.*;

 * @author Satya Choudhury
public class JDBCSQLiteExample {

    public static void getArtists() { 
        Connection conn = null;
        String db = "jdbc:sqlite:F:\\Workspace\\JCG\\jdbc-sqlite-example\\db\\Chinook_Sqlite.sqlite";
        try {
            // Establish database connection
            conn = DriverManager.getConnection(db);
            // Create statement
            Statement stmt = conn.createStatement();
            // Execute query
            ResultSet rs =  stmt.executeQuery("select Name from Artist");
            // Process data
            while(rs.next()) {
                System.out.println("Artist Name: " + rs.getString("Name"));
            // Clean up
        catch(SQLException e) {
        finally {
            try {
                // Close connection
                if (conn != null) 
            catch (SQLException e) {
                // Unable to close connection
    // Main
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        // Retrieve all Artists

  • Line 3 – We imported the java.sql.* package. It’s recommended to import packages that you use for example, Connection, ResultSet, etc. For simplicity sake we will just import the entire package. We are not using any extended classes hence no need for javax.sql package
  • Line 11 – The getArtists method will access the database and retrieve all artist names
  • Line 13 – Defined a connection object and initialized it to Null
  • Line 14 – Defined the URL for our database location. Here we provide path to Chinook database that we copied to db folder
  • Line 18 – Used getConnection method of DriverManager to establish a connection to Chinook database
  • Line 21 – Created a Statement object from Connection object
  • Line 24 – Executed the query by providing the static SQL statement
  • Line 27 – 29 – Looped through the ResultSet returned by the query and print out the artist names on the console
  • Line 32-33 – Closed the ResultSet and Statement
  • Line 41 – Verified the connection and closed. Finally block will be executed even if there is an exception
  • Line 54 – Called getArtists method from main method

You should see the following output in the console.

JDBC Driver Types - Console output
Console output

4. Summary

In this example we discussed about different types of JDBC drivers and developed a simple application to put our learning into action by writing a Java application to access SQLite database.

5. Download the NetBeans Project

This was an example of how to connect to a database using JDBC.

You can download the full source code of the JDBC Driver Types Example here: jdbc-sqlite-example.zip

Satya Choudhury

Satya Choudhury is a IT professional with over 23+ years of experience in multiple technologies such as Java, IBM AS/400 (iSeries) and Web (PHP, Vuejs, Codeigniter, Bootstrap, etc.). Apart from programming he also possess excellent UI/UX design skills and runs his own store at http://satyatunes.com.
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