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-- An article written in 2002 for jBASE Software, Framingham, Mass. --

jBASE Speaks XML

An Introduction to XML (Extensible Markup Language) with jBASE

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    XML and jBASE: Natural Partners

    XML could be said to turn a Web page into a view of a database, in one of its most obvious and fundamental applications. That, of course, is where jBASE comes in. A typical XML-based Web service is going to need a serious database management system behind it to do the heavy lifting, and jBASE is ready not only to interface with XML, but to be a highly advantageous way to store it.

    Although it's great at shuffling structured data around the Internet, XML lacks many of the things found in real databases: efficient storage, indexes, security, transactions and data integrity, multi-user access, triggers, queries across multiple documents, and so on.

    Thus, it may be possible to use an XML document or documents as a database in environments with small amounts of data, few users, and modest performance requirements. However, this obviously would not cut it for most production environments, which have,

    • many users,
    • strict data integrity requirements,
    • the need for good performance.

    But of course, XML wasn't designed to be the database. Its real strength is in being an ideal intermediary in the flow of highly structured information, between your database and its access through the Web, or wherever a networked application would benefit from automated processes.

    Advantages of Storing XML Data in jBASE

    "jBASE is highly suited as a data repository for XML documents for a number of different reasons," says Martin Bailey, Product Manager for jBASE. XML documents are hierarchical and variable length in nature, and relational database vendors are discovering to their disadvantage that their data model is a poor fit for XML data. The jBASE data model allows not only relational data, but also hierarchical and variable length data, so entire XML documents can be easily stored in jBASE on a field or record basis.

    At the heart of jBASE is the jBASE External Device Interface (jEDI), middleware that allows jBASE to be entirely independent of the data storage mechanism. By plugging in different jEDIs, jBASE can store and retrieve data from anywhere, including native XML files. Many jEDIs are available and the jEDI is an open, published interface, giving customers the capability to engineer their own custom interfaces.

    Processing XML data is highly reliant on the efficient handling of text or "strings," because an XML document is essentially one long string of text. jBASE's built-in, stored procedure language, jBC, was expressly designed for this purpose and contains a whole host of functions engineered for efficient text processing.

    Many vendors have built transformation engines for taking XML documents and transforming them into different formats. jBASE can inter-operate fully with these engines, which allows the easy inclusion of XML transformations in existing customized solutions.

    Using the jBASE Data Provider (jDP), data can be pulled straight out of jBASE in XML format using a query in XML format. This can even be done over the Web using the built-in ISAPI and NSAPI tools.


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