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A Platform-Neutral Solution to Native XML Integration with SQL (part 4)

Logic in DB



MS SQL 2005


MS SQL 2005



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Why isnít the database industry behind this SQL hierarchical technology?

The SQL native XML integration industry feels it's time to make major changes to SQL, and XML is giving them this opportunity. In 2004 Jim Melton, the ANSI SQL editor, wrote a very telling blog entry describing how SQL is in its twilight, to be superseded by XQuery by 2010. His comment very well expressed this SQL replacement sentiment in the industry, and the SQL industryís XML-centric changes to date back this up. From the lackluster response to the SQL native XML integration industry offerings so far, its users have not been very convinced to use procedural XML-centric syntax and proprietary procedures to integrate native XML.


When I attended the first SQLX Group meeting in 2000, along with IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and other industry representatives, it was already three years too late. All the major SQL vendors represented there had already built and branded different approaches to native XML integration, with products on the market. They were only interested in establishing low-level XML integration procedures. They were not interested in changing their solution even if a better common solution was found. They liked the fact that their solutions were different so that they could be differentiated from one another.

Even though it has now been shown that SQL can operate hierarchically, which enables transparent integration of native XML at a hierarchical level, the academic industry has also paid little notice. This is also understandable since SQL is an old technology for them. They are concentrating on pure XML and semi-structured uses and solutions.

The vendors and academia have their own goals and interests for SQL native XML integration, but so do the SQL users. SQL users do not want to learn new XML-centric solutions. They want to use XML in SQL as simply and easily as possible. If that can be done in a transparent manner, it is all the better for users. If we can integrate SQL and XML at a hierarchical level, using the additional semantics in XML, this is even better.


Current SQL native XML integration solutions are not satisfactory, standardized, compatible, or based on a principled sound technology. There is an ANSI SQL solution that is more than satisfactory and based solidly on a hierarchically principled and time tested technology. It can automatically use the associated hierarchical structureís semantics to perform full hierarchical processing naturally, which also means the user no longer needs to know the hierarchical structure being operated on. This has the additional advantage of always producing the logically-correct hierarchical result.

One of the main reasons SQL vendors have not moved on this natural SQL native XML integration solution is because of their desire to move SQL in new directions (which this article has shown is not necessary to support XML). The SQL native XML user is more likely to be concerned with getting the correct hierarchical XML result than with the support of new unconventional hierarchical structures. The SQL native XML integration market is wide open to the vendor that can solve the SQL/XML integration problem satisfactorily and without changing SQLís normal non-procedural navigation-less operation.

About the Author

Michael M David is founder of Advanced Data Access Technologies, Inc. Previously a staff scientist and the lead XML architect for NCR/Teradata and their representative to the ANSI SQLX Group, he has over twenty years experience researching and designing commercial non-procedural, heterogeneous database processing products. Based on this experience, he has authored the book and many papers and articles on this subject. Contact Mike at .


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