Why XML?

Len Bullard cbullard at hiwaay.net
Tue Oct 19 03:30:37 BST 1999

David Power wrote:
> One of our Directors has
> decided that XML is a great solution for our internal
> out-sourcing system.

Why is a great solution for outsourcing?  Who (business role) 
uses XML for what transaction?

> It is an SQL database that
> we render on browsers in HTML 4.0 using VB +
> Javascripting. It is strictly for internal use and everyone
> uses IE 4.0 to view it (no probs).

SQL enables you via IIS and an ADO connection to 
easily return HTML so you could skip the XML internally 
unless you need to persist the data elsewhere.  Is 
the relational database the record of authority?  Is 
XML used to make copies of this data and reuse it 
on another system other than internal clients?
> What is the advantage of using XML in this loop?

Do you persist XML on the client or the servers?

If not, not much.  Essentially, IE4 and 5 treat XML
like it is a small object-database.  You can use the 
DOM to manipulate this, get information from schemas 
for things such as standard GUIs, and otherwise keep 
as much metadata as you want on the client side.  You 
can also store these properties on the relational side 
as long strings amenable to slicing and dicing (eg, split()) 
etc. or as individual fields and get them on request.  Loading them as 
XML is a one time connection for some metadata sets, 
so that is some advantage on the client side.

You can take very cheap databases engines such as 
MS Access, link cross-department database applications, 
and easily create intelligent namespace aggregates 
simlar to recordset views (produced by, in fact) 
that can be taken offsite or local to use as say, 
diagnostic systems or acceptance test documents.  Because 
there are now XML applications for graphics such as 
SVG and soon, real-time 3D animation (X3D), you can 
do fascinating multi-applications aggregates bound 
for just in time applications (the IETM as needed).

If I want to do loosely coupled enterprise work, there are some  
distinct advantages in that you can use XML for import 
and export (spoorMans serialization).  These are hybrid 
systems so, the answer is really, what do you need to 
do with these tools?  The data is manipulable and persistable 
in both forms and readily interchangeable.   The DOM/XML browser 
is only a fair front-end for database manipulation, but it is 
an excellent means to download and synchronize data for 
occasionally-connected systems:  say, anything on a Palm 
unit or below.

len bullard

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