The following is a series of code snippets interspersed with short explanations. The examples use the files MYTABLE.DBF and MYTABLE.DBT. This code was tested with version alpha 05.

Opening a DBF File

Opening an existing file can be done by creating a Table object configuring it with an exisitng DBF file. The File object is a regular Before you can read from or write to the file you must open it. The argument to open specifies what to do if the file does not exist. If you are opening an existing file you presumably want it to be an error if the file cannot be found.

Table table = new Table(new File("MYTABLE.DBF"));


    // ... do your stuff

    table.close();  // don't forget to close it!

Creating a new DBF File

Alternatively you can open a table that does not exist yet. The code is exactly as above, only now you specify IfNonExistent.CREATE.

Table table = new Table(new File("NEWTABLE.DBF"));


    // ... do your stuff

    table.close();  // don't forget to close it!

Getting the Field Descriptions

What in modern databases are called columns are called in dBase fields. You can get the list of field descriptions from a table after opening it. Each field has four properties:

  • Name
  • Type
  • Length
  • Decimal Count

The length property is fixed for some types. For instance a DATE is always 8 long. The Decimal Count is really only applicable to NUMBERs. The other types always return 0;

List<Field> fields = table.getFields();

for (final Field field : fields)
    System.out.println("Name:         " + field.getName());
    System.out.println("Type:         " + field.getType());
    System.out.println("Length:       " + field.getLength());
    System.out.println("DecimalCount: " + field.getDecimalCount());

Iterating Through Records and Retrieving Data

To iterate through the records, get a record iterator. Each record lets you get the field data with one of the following methods:

  • getXxxValue(fieldName): retrieves an object of the appropriate type (Number for NUMBER or FLOAT fields, String for CHARACTER or MEMO field, Boolean for LOGICAL and java.util.Date for DATE.
  • getRawValue(fieldName): returns a byte array containing the value as found in the DBF file.
Iterator<Record> iterator = table.recordIterator();

while (iterator.hasNext())
    Record record =;

    Number nv = record.getNumberValue("NUMFLD");

    // Convert to a primitive before comparing
    if (nv != null && nv.intValue() == 2)
        System.out.println("Well, what do you know? numfld was 2!");

    // Get all the bytes from the memo field including
    // "soft returns" (0x8d 0x0a)
    byte[] memoData = record.getRawValue(new Field("MEMOFLD", Type.MEMO));

    if (memoData == null)
        System.out.println("No memo data");
        System.out.println("Raw memo data: " + new String(memoData));

    // Get the memo data as a String, with no soft returns.
    String memoString = record.getStringValue("MEMOFLD");

    System.out.println("Memo date as string: " + memoString);

Adding a Record

A record is basically a map of field names to values. You can create the record and then add it, or use the method Table.addRecord.

// The hard way ...
final Map<String, Value> map = new HashMap<String, Value>();
map.put("NUMFLD", new NumberValue(17));
map.put("LOGICFLD", new BooleanValue(true));
map.put("CHARFLD", new StringValue("This is a new string"));
map.put("MEMOFLD", new StringValue("This could be a very long string"));
map.put("DATEFLD", new DateValue(Calendar.getInstance().getTime()));
Record record = new Record(map);

// The easy way ...
// The values have to be of the appropriate type and in the same order as the corresponding fields
// in the list returned by Table.getFields();
table.addRecord(18, false, "Another new string", "Another long string", Calendar.getInstance().getTime());

// The even easier way ... (since beta 02)
// The values do not have to be of the exact corresponding type as the database field anymore.
// Some conversions are done.
table.addRecord("19", "T", 3.14159, 2.71828, "20090608");
// Parses the string "19" as a NUMBER, Writes the String "T" (true) to a LOGICAL field,
// Writes pi to a CHARACTER field, writes e to a MEMO field and "20090608" to a DATE field.

Using the Database Class

It is also possible to work with a slightly higher level of abstraction. DANS DBF Library considers a directory containing DBF and supporting files a database. You can open or create a database by instantiating a Database object.

Database database = new Database(new File("newdatabase"), Version.DBASE_3);
List<Field> fields = new ArrayList<Field>();
fields.add(new Field("ID", Type.NUMBER, 3));
fields.add(new Field("NAME", Type.CHARACTER, 25));
fields.add(new Field("DESCR", Type.MEMO));
fields.add(new Field("ADDED", Type.DATE));

Table personTable = database.addTable("PERSON", fields);


    // ... work with person Table.