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[whatwg] XML databases, XML syntax and HTML5

From: Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis <bhawkeslewis@googlemail.com>
Date: Sat, 09 Dec 2006 10:35:58 +0000
Message-ID: <1165660558.15999.26.camel@galahad>
Elliotte Harold wrote:

> However, after spending the last few days at XML 2006, I have a new
> perspective on such systems I didn't have a week ago. In particular I
> now believe that the relational databases that back these sites are
> fundamentally the wrong technology. As Mark Logic's Jason Hunter put
> it, they're trying to force triangles into rectangle shaped holes.
> 
> I understand why relational databases were used to build blog engines 
> and content management systems. For a long time that was all we had.
> However, that's going to change fast. I expect that new systems are
> going to be developed using pure and hybrid XML databases like Exist
> and DB2 9. The advantages to a programmer working on such systems
> are just too compelling to ignore.

Can I ask some really basic questions about this? (Jason Hunter's talk
didn't appear to be online.) Are there Exist equivalents for Python,
PHP, and Ruby programmers, or do we all need to use Java in the brave
new world?

> One consequence of building on top of native XML database rather than a 
> relational database is that well-formedness is going to become more 
> important, not less. In fact, well-formedness is going to become 
> essential because these systems cannot store anything less than a fully 
> well-formed XML document. I predict that this, if nothing else, is going 
> to convince blog engines and content management systems to start fixing 
> up malformed content before storing it. Maybe all the legacy systems 
> won't convert, but the new ones most certainly will.

Is the theory here that the entire site's content goes into one XML
file? And, if so, what happens when it gets big? Or would you have
different XML files for each article, comment, and user? What happens to
hypermedia like videos, images, and audio? Is there a walkthrough of
creating a hypermedia system with Exist online? (A brief search of the
Exist website didn't turn one up, although I see it includes a module
for resizing images.) Are such systems going to be as simple for
end-users to install on their servers as WordPress?

> One consequence of building on top of native XML database rather than
> a relational database is that well-formedness is going to become more
> important, not less. In fact, well-formedness is going to become
> essential because these systems cannot store anything less than a
> fully well-formed XML document. I predict that this, if nothing else,
> is going to convince blog engines and content management systems to
> start fixing up malformed content before storing it. Maybe all the
> legacy systems won't convert, but the new ones most certainly will.

To which Rimantas Liubertas replied:
> 
> In other words this means, that John Doe will have more headache with
> such system, which will be pretty compelling reason to stick with
> "old-fashioned" RDBMs which "just work".

I really can't see how this follows from what Elliotte was saying. Is
John Doe a programmer or an end-user? Plenty of programmers seem to have
difficulties with databases of all stripes. And I can't see why the
end-user would be worrying about well-formedness with such a CMS any
more than they worry about well-formedness when using OpenOffice.org or
Microsoft Word.

--
Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis
Received on Saturday, 9 December 2006 02:35:58 UTC

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