Survey Finds ‘XML Devs’ Flocking to XQuery

More than half of all XML developers are working with XQuery, and another sizeable group expects to start before the end of the year.

That’s according to a DataDirect Technologies survey just released of some 550 “XML developers,” (which DataDirect defines as including a wide range of XML and database professionals). Specifically, the survey found 52% of XML developers have already started working with XQuery in the last 12 months and another 33% have plans to start using XQuery before years’ end.

“That one number was of the most dramatic findings for me – that XQuery is already happening, and in a much bigger way that I would have expected,” Larry Kim, DataDirect’s XML Programs Manager told Open Enterprise Trends. The survey interviewed some 550 developers and other IT professionals across a number of different industries. “The survey data confirmed what we’ve known all along – that there’s a tremendous interest for an alternative to the tedious, low-level methods presently employed for querying, manipulating and transforming XML data,” Kim added.

DataDirect execs say the survey confirms work from other sources that shows a growing number of IT professionals – architects, developers, sysadmins, are finding XML tools such as XQuery can ease integration for data and documents, and even set up complex, multi-database queries on-the-fly.

The DataDirect 2005 XQuery Industry Study results closely mirror the results of a 2005 study by Evans Data Corporation, the world’s leading developer market research firm, which revealed that “44% of those surveyed said they are using XQuery, or plan to – even though the final XQuery specs have yet to be put in place.” Although the Evans Data Corporation Study did not focus exclusively on XQuery trends, the data revealed a very high XQuery adoption rate at this point in the XQuery technology curve.

When the survey asked developers Why they are using XQuery, the plurality (43.1%) said “because it simplifies XML data access and transformation.” DataDirect’s Kim put it this way, “Developers today have a tremendous amount of data already in XML, but to access that data they would often have to use hand-coding approaches, such as XSLT, which were not trivial to learn.” XQuery, the survey found, provided developers with an easier-to-use method for addressing querying, accessing and general manipulation of XML data. Another XQuery plus: Is syntax is more familiar to database developers, the survey also found.

Inside the Developers Practice of XQuery
Jerry King, general manager for DataDirect’s XML products told OET “Developers and architects are asking us two questions,” (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.”

Other XML-Related Trends To Watch For
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 within enterprise IT. Here are the other trends that DBAs and other developers will be adopting, according to his customer contact and survey work:


  • 1. 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.


  • 2. 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.


  • 3. 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.


  • 4. 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.


  • 5. 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 by mid 2005.