Relational Tables and structured documents

Jonathan Robie jonathan at
Sun Mar 22 03:52:18 GMT 1998

At 12:11 PM 3/19/98, Peter Murray-Rust wrote:
>I have been spending the last two weeks working on a molecular application
>which essentially consists of relational tables.  The application is
>largely hierarchical (a protein molecule) so that it benefits from being
>recast into structured document form. I have therefore found it useful to
>create routines which generate nodes in a tree as a result of joining tables.
>I expect this is a common operation (e.g. creation of orgCharts from
>relational tables).  XML would seem to provide a useful approach,
>especially client-side (most humans don't read relational tables very
>well).  Excuse my ignorance, but is this a sufficiently generic application
>that there are well-understood rules for it and is there scope for a
>generic XML approach?

This is rather analogous to the object-to-relational mapping problem. If
you define schemas in XML and define a mapping onto the relational
database, there is a solution. Or you can have someone define how the joins
should be made to create the XML elements. There is not, of course, a
general solution for looking at a relational database and making a sensible
set of "objects" out of it. There's been some research into inferring
structure from relational tables, but nothing that has been that good in
the general case.

jonathan at
Texcel Research

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