Automating Search Interfaces

Richard Light richard at
Wed Feb 18 09:23:48 GMT 1998

In message <34E871B8.CF85BB5F at>, John Petit
<jpetit at> writes
>By the way, I read your book and found it very informative.

Thank you!

>This is a question about how the search scenario will play out on the
>web once XML becomes widely implemented. I have not seen this
>articulated in any of the specifications or articles on the web thus
>far. In lieu of that, I have imagined how it might work. I would like
>some feedback. Am I way off base?  Naturally the answer will have a big
>impact on the design of search engines and other services that I am


You have already had replies that:

- comment on the potential use of 'architecture'-type techniques for
harmonising the semantics of element types in different DTDs, and 
- point out that a suitably designed representation of relational data
in XML will allow SQL-type queries on data that is really a relational
wolf (?!) in XML sheep's clothing

The only thing I would add is that neither approach gives us a query
language for searching information sources that are genuinely XML, not
'relational-in-disguise'.  Peter M-R mentioned on XML-dev a couple of
months ago that he uses XLL expressions as a query language - this is
the only approach that is currently possible within the 'official' XML
world-view.  The SGML world has invented a very exhaustive query
language (SDQL, which lurks within the DSSSL standard) for full SGML
documents, but this is probably inappropriate for the XML world.  (One
weakness of SDQL is that it has a 'read-only' model of the document,
whereas SQL supports table creation and updating.  Depends what you want
from a query language.)

Richard Light.

Richard Light
SGML/XML and Museum Information Consultancy
richard at

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