I previously blogged about the shortcomings of JDBC and its way of passing SQL statements as strings without any compile-time checking or type safety. The same also applies to other SQL-based database access libraries such as Microsoft’s ODBC, OLE DB and ADO.NET. None of these APIs provide proper integration of SQL with the host language. Of course you could argue that object-relational mapping (ORM) tools like Hibernate have eliminated the need to work directly with SQL, but I found that there are still situations where you want to control database operations more explicitly.
Microsoft has addressed this issue quite elegantly with the introduction of LINQ to SQL in the .NET Framework 3.5. Although there is nothing equivalent in Java, I recently came across some promising efforts to improve language integration by providing fluent interfaces or other lightweight wrappers around JDBC and SQL.