I can remember a few years back when I first heard about XML at a DAMA-I conference. The speaker introduced the topic, predicted that it would be something big and encouraged everyone in the audience to try to get on an XML project. Actually, his point was that as data professionals we should try to influence XML projects before programmers dominated them. Fast forwarding to the present, it seems to me the results from XML are rather mixed at best, at least when it comes to business rules.

"Do you know one of the great things about XML?," a lead programmer almost whispered to me a year or so back. "Tell me," I said. "Well," he continued, "You can embed XML in existing character columns in databases, so you can carry a lot more information in the database without ever having to add any new columns. Think of all the time and effort you can save doing that!" The enthusiastic, almost wild, gleam in his eye told me that he was not going to listen to any sermons on normalization. Perhaps DBAs and IT departments could do a better job of allowing changes to database structures, but nothing can justify using XML to circumvent these controls. Unfortunately, this is not the only abuse of XML. Indeed, XML seems to put temptation in the way of programmers because it lends itself to two things that many, if not most, programmers love: hierarchies and parsing strings.

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