IBM announced at developerWorks Live! In New Orleans that it will post a Web- downloadable implementation of XQuery, the emerging standard for querying XML data and composing XML documents, allowing developers to become proficient with the emerging standard sooner.

IBM is also providing flexibility to its developer community by launching a DB2 .NET Enablement beta program that enables developers to create .NET-based applications that work with DB2 data. In addition, IBM is launching the DB2 Database Porting Zone, one convenient, centralized Web site that consolidates everything developers need to know to port to DB2.

Last week, IBM delivered a test suite illustrating the nascent Xquery standard to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the body which makes official recommendations to the industry on such matters. IBM is now posting code on its own Web site that illustrates aspects of the specification in use. While some vendors have posted illustrations of XQuery, they typically don't address the demanding requirements of incorporating a real relational database that supports a dynamic business. IBM's implementation focuses on using XQuery in high volume, high performance scenarios involving relational databases that could contain many terabytes of information.

IBM's implementation, called XML for Tables, is a kind of language translator that developers and customers can incorporate into their IBM DB2 Universal databases. It uses and illustrates the XQuery interface to tap structured data in relational databases and present it as XML data. IBM has also made XML Registry available, a way for groups of users to easily catalogue, organize, find and share XML information, including that which pertains to Web services.

XQuery complements structured query language (SQL), which IBM also developed and is now a standard language for databases. SQL, the preferred way to tap structured data within databases, cannot easily express questions about hierarchical information, such as organizational chart relationships, nor sequential data, such as chapters in a book, contained in XML documents. XML tags information on the Web in a particularly descriptive way so that information can be exchanged in a much more accurate, flexible fashion. XQuery enables users to cast a wider, more accurate net when looking for specific information.

The adoption of XQuery in IBM's family of information management products is one of the objectives of IBM's information integration initiative, which is producing technology that will make information, wherever and however it resides in the enterprise, available on demand to businesses, their customers, partners and suppliers.

For instance, XQuery will be adopted by IBM DB2 Information Integrator which lets businesses unify, integrate and search the scattered repositories and formats of historical and real-time information as if they were a single database. DB2 Information Integrator will help users tap information in both structured formats, such as traditional databases with information represented in rows and columns; as well as unstructured formats, such as text documents, multimedia and email. XQuery will also be built into DB2 Universal Database itself, as well as DB2 Content Manager.

Because growing amounts of business information now reside in documents and on XML-based public and private Web sites, and because XML is a becoming a de facto standard for information exchange, businesses are now trying to place XML-based information in relational databases and make information available in XML form. Putting them in databases, instead of simple file systems, enables businesses to much more efficiently retrieve and analyze greater amounts of more meaningful information that can help them run their company or gain a competitive edge.

Currently, placing queries to XML- tagged business information in databases requires specially crafted code, or doesn't take full advantage of the XML format. When XQuery is approved, vendors that adhere to the standard will enable their products to work with related products from any software developer.

XML for Tables is available for electronic download at alphaWorks.ibm.com/tech/xtable, and XML Registry is available at http://www.alphaworks.ibm.com/tech/xrr.

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