Storing Lots of Fiddly Bits (was Re: What is XML for?)

Borden, Jonathan jborden at
Sat Jan 30 18:01:27 GMT 1999

Paul Prescod wrote:
> You didn't really answer my question. If Oracle 8i provides the same
> support for "graphs of data with links and annotations" that ObjectDesign
> then in what sense is it NOT an object database. I'm still asking for a
> definition.
	My point is that you can essentially store anything with any type of
database. Certainly you can store objects in a relational database, and you
can represent tables in an object database. This issue is one of performance
for a particular task.

	In general, object databases have been designed to efficiently store lots
of c++ (or java) objects which contain embedded pointers (or references) and
they provide a mechanism to navigate the database using the semantics of a
pointer dereference. They are not designed to *efficiently* perform complex
queries, especially those that SQL databases excell at.

	The question is, then, not that you *can* store objects in an object
database (because you clearly can store objects in a relational database),
nor whether you can query a database, because you can clearly query an
object database, rather what is the performance of a particular database for
a particular application.

	I think the term 'object database' has or may have become more of a
marketing term than a strict technical term. If you want to call Oracle an
object database because it stores objects, or processes directed graphs,
then so be it (though that would raise a few eyebrows :-). The real question
is: which database efficiently stores, indexes, queries and retrieves XML
(or more accurately DOM) datastructures.

Jonathan Borden

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