Is XML dead already or what? Was: RE: What is XML for?

David Megginson david at
Sat Jan 30 11:56:54 GMT 1999

Ed Howland writes:

 > But what worries me is the long term performance objectives of our
 > product.  Since it is e-commerce, I think traffic will just
 > increase rapidly over time. I still haven't figured out the best
 > way to store our data in XML and do high-performance lookups on
 > it. I don't even know if I should have one massive file or split it
 > into logical groups of files and directories. Or store it in text
 > BLOBs in an RDBMS or use some kind of OODBMS based scheme.  There
 > is even some talk here of XML-like structured repositories.

Here's a freebie for you: e-commerce data is generally structured in
such a way that it's straight-forward to map it to relational database
tables (about the level of difficulty of mapping a typical object
model to relational database tables); in particular, truly mixed
content (elements and text at the same level) is rare for e-commerce,
except perhaps in product-description blurbs.  Implementing a tree in
a relational DB is annoying, but not excessively difficult;
implementing a full XML model in a relational DB is painful.

What we need the XML-like structured repositories for is document-like
information, like technical manuals, news stories, literature,
scientific papers, and other stuff that does *not* have a
straight-forward mapping to relational DB tables.  No one has a good,
scalable solution for this now.

In other words, concentrate on your XML exchange formats and use an
RDBMS on the backend (or, perhaps, an OODB if your traffic isn't too
high).  If there ever is an XML repository with such good performance
that you want to throw out Oracle or Sybase, then you can redo the
backend without causing incompatibilities the frontend.

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at

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