Early-Release XQuery Tools Could Be Out by Fall
Case in point: The W3C this week should begin reviewing a test suite for XQuery, the web services standard for querying XML data and documents.
XQuery is the proposed way for working with unstructured, non-relational data, and likely follow-on to relational data that uses SQL The standard also will lay out core specifications for bridging the two data worlds.
Even though the test suite being submitted is based on work done jointly by IBM and Microsoft, database competitors Oracle, Informix, and datamining software provider Business Intelligence have all publicly supported the XQuery work.
The aim of the test suite is to provide W3C with a mechanism to make sure that different vendors' XQuery implementations are alike enough to allow developers to work with XQuery across multiple database platforms. Once the test suite is submitted, the W3C will put it through internal testing for compliance to the proposed XQuery specs, and then put the test suite out to public comment before making it part of the final proposed standards package.
A full XQuery standard could be completed by yearend, with full ratification (the W3C's Last Call) possible by Q1 2004.
In the meantime, just about every SQL vendor is making public commitments to support XQuery, whenever it's final. For it's part, IBM has stated that once XQuery becomes a final standard, it will be added to its DB2 database line. IBM this week will post XML for Tables, a language translator that demonstrates how the XQuery interface can be used to access structured data and present it in XML form. Release of the software comes as IBM holds its annual developerWorks developer conference in New Orleans.
Microsoft has also committed to support XQuery in a future version SQL Server. In the meantime, Microsoft is already taking steps to help make current SQL Server 2000 developers more at ease with integrating their data with web pages and XML. For instance, SQL Server 2000's XML query features and XSL stylesheets let Web servers running Internet Information Server (IIS) 5.0 stream formatted query resultsets to browsers in vanilla HTML, according to an SQL Server 2000 review in Visual Studio Magazine by Roger Jennings.
Even as the standard for an XML-based query winds its way to completion at W3C, a core group of SQL devotees openly question just how much XQuery will impact their structured query-based development. At the same time, a growing number of enterprise developers with broad user constituencies -- cross departmental users, suppliers, partners and even customers -- are becoming increasing interested in using non-structured technologies to broaden the availability of their database assets without the need to code and maintain custom clients or application-specific APIs.
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