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Friday, February 8, 2008

The Future of XML: How Will You Use XML in Years to Come?

XML's future lies with the Web, and more specifically with Web publishing.
It seems a little funny to have to say that. After all, isn't publishing
what the Web is about? The Web was designed first and foremost as a
mechanism to publish information. What else can it do? Quite a lot. The
last three years have seen an explosion of interest in Web applications
that go far beyond traditional Web sites. Word processors, spreadsheets,
games, diagramming tools, and more are all migrating into the browser.
This trend will only accelerate in the coming year as local storage in
Web browsers makes it increasingly possible to work offline. But XML is
still firmly grounded in Web 1.0 publishing, and that's still very
important... So now you know how you'll write XML in 2008 (Word or
OpenOffice), and you know how you'll send it to the server (APP - Atom
Publishing Protocol). The last question is where to put all this wonderful
XML. Traditionally, this question has had two answers. The first is to
save the XML in a file system. The second is to stuff it in a Binary
Large Object (BLOB) in a relational database. Both are kludges, and
neither performs very well for Web sites. What we need is a database
designed to work with the hierarchical structures of typical Web
documents rather than cutting across them. For the first time, such
databases now exist at multiple scales, they're stable, and they're
ready to use. On the low end, eXist and Berkeley DBXML are looking
better and better. On the high end, expensive big-iron XML databases
like Mark Logic will continue to convert big publishers who can afford
the cost of entry. Hybrid solutions like IBM DB2 9 pureXML will drive
XQuery adoption among customers who need to mix documents with tabular
data. Compared to earlier products like these, the new breed are more
stable, more scalable, and more reliable. Most important, they now
share a standard language, XQuery 1.0, finally released after years
of development.

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