Wednesday March 19, 2003

Got XML?

by Jay F. Davis,

One of the buzzwords in the database development world is XML. I see job listings requiring it and I've heard XML mentioned by recruiters as a hot area for new development. This always strikes me as odd because XML is just a file format, and a very simple one at that. It's like saying "We need someone who knows comma-delimited data files."

On the off chance you didn't get that joke, it's like asking an experienced writer if she knows how to differentiate verbs and nouns. Or a biologist if he can tell the difference between a mammal and an amphibian. Yes, XML is that simple--at least to a database expert.

So what is the big deal with XML?

Here's the way I figure it: XML simplifies data sharing by forcing a standard structure onto data. It's kind of like the doc (MS-Word) format for word processing: the defacto standard. (Actually, it's probably more like RTF but that's another story.) It seems XML is slated to become the standard for data exchange among database systems.

And that's a good thing. It will certainly make my job easier. One of the biggest challenges in data integration is finding ways to share data among competing database products and file formats. Unfortunately, XML files will still need to be interpreted, often by custom-written programs. And XML exporting and importing will probably be impractical (read: slow) in some applications. Nevertheless, I'm glad to see it come.

But don't ask if I've got XML experience.


Above article Last updated: 19 March 2003 11:42:44 PM

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