2005 Will See XML’s Powerful Next Wave

The stars are aligning for 2005 to be the “breakout year” for XML’s next wave technologies, including XQuery, according to ISVs and toolsmakers watching the XML space.

Perhaps most bullish among the outlooks comes from DataDirect Technologies, who say that are getting growing interest from architects and devs to learn more about how XML can speed integration for data and documents, and even set up complex, multi-database queries on-the-fly.

“This is the year XQuery is going to happen,” Jerry King, general manager for DataDirect’s XML products told Open Enterprise Trends. “Developers are architects are asking us two questions,” King added:

(1) How can I get my relational data into XML?; and

(2) How can I take the data access and transformation routines I am building, and my artifacts, and wrap them up into a program

The growing interest is coming as more architects and developers understand the integration power of XML. “Last year ran a dev survey that showed told us less half of our customers had even touched XQuery, let alone used it for anything important [in their companies],” King told OET “But, since then, the XQuery section of our site has gone from the least traveled area to consistently rank in the number 2 or 3 position. In addition, we’ve done a more recent survey and more than half of [our customers] said they were actively using XQuery, and a significant portion of those said they were doing something meaningful with it. The numbers have literally inverted.”

2005 Predictions for XML’s Next Wave
As the W3C moves steadily closer to adopting an “open” and multi-vendor standard for XQuery, King says some major XML-driven trends in architecture and developer Best Practices will begin to gain critical mass in 2005. Here are his Top 5 predictions

  • Moving Beyond SQL: SQL pre-dates many cornerstones of conventional software development, making entire classes of new applications difficult to implement using current technologies. XQuery is a natural fit for XML content management applications, XML reporting, native XML programming, data integration and Web message processing. The transition to XQuery-based applications will be eased by the availability of powerful developer tools.
  • Access Relational Databases as XML: XQuery can use XML views to query relational databases the same way that it queries XML because one query can process both types of data. This will greatly ease developers’ jobs because they will not have to write and maintain mountains of code, resulting in faster application development.
  • Access Non-Relational Data as XML: There is a tremendous wealth of information stored in non-relational data formats (EDI, CSV, binary data, etc.), but so many different types of formats make it difficult or impossible to reuse valuable information. Fortunately, most data formats can easily be translated to XML and processed like other XML data, which will make XQuery increasingly popular for data integration.
  • Access Distributed Data Sources: We live in a networked world and XQuery was designed to leverage this by providing built-in facilities for loading and querying data sources anywhere on the Internet. XQuery will enable developers to join, integrate, share and manipulate data on the Internet as though it was on the local file system.
  • Standards-Based Programmatic Data Access: The XQuery API for Java (XQJ), the XML equivalent to JDBC or ADO, is a powerful new Java specification for processing query results in a JDBC-like fashion. Look for data access component vendors to provide embeddable components, which will fully support standards-based XQuery data access through XQJ for all major databases, including Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Sybase and MySQL, as early as mid 2005.

And it’s not all about XQuery. King says that skills and tools for XSLT and XML Schema will also be in greater demand, for enabling a wide range of intra-enterprise and B2B sharing and integration projects.

“It’s already starting to get awareness among the larger vendors,” King said. “Even though Oracle, Microsoft or SAP don’t talk about it a lot, they all are looking very hard at how these next XML technologies will begin to reshape how they [architect] and package their applications, and how their application software can be integrated with other data sources.”