Despite the widespread adoption of XML as the preferred method of displaying and exchanging data via Web-based applications, most developers fail to efficiently query their existing data and transport it directly as XML, instead spending additional time and costs in hand coding their applications to mix relational data and XML. These findings were released today as part of a study conducted by DataDirect Technologies, Inc., the leading provider of components for connecting data and applications, and TheServerSide.com, an online community focused on Java development and middleware issues.

Most survey respondents (70 percent) said they process XML and store it as data in a relational database. Not surprisingly, though, most of these developers (65 percent) said they would prefer to use a standardized query-based approach to mixing XML and relational data, rather than hand code a solution to integrate the data from its various sources. Yet the majority of respondents were unfamiliar with the leading XML query standards: SQL/XML and XQuery. Only 8 percent said they are using SQL/XML, which is available today, and just 5 percent said they plan to use XQuery, which is scheduled for completion in late 2004.

The difference between developers seeking a query-based approach to mixing XML and relational data and those with knowledge of SQL/XML and XQuery, highlights the need for a simple way to get these important industry standard tools into the hands of developers today, according to Jonathan Robie, XML program manager at DataDirect Technologies and co-author of the XQuery specification.

"Companies have a huge investment in relational data sources, but they need to process that data as XML for display and exchange on the Web," Robie said. "Most companies are already doing this, but they must either write a great deal of tedious and labor-intensive code or rely on proprietary and complex solutions provided by individual database vendors. They are struggling with the inherent inefficiencies of working with two very different data representations and looking for an easier solution that is standards-based and portable."

SQL/XML is part of the SQL 2003 standard, which allows a SQL query to create any desired XML structure. XQuery is a new language being designed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that offers full support for creating, querying and combining XML. Both SQL/XML and XQuery are powerful and flexible ways to create XML from queries. While SQL/XML requires little new learning for a SQL programmer, XQuery is more natural for XML programmers and allows processing of both XML and relational sources. Both approaches are being adopted as preferred alternatives to the proprietary and limited XML extensions provided by relational database vendors.

Conducted in the third quarter of 2003 via an online survey, TheServerSide.com, DataDirect Technologies study polled more than 300 technical developers in both corporate and application vendor positions.

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