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   RE: xml search engine?

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  • From: Michael Rossi <mrossi@crusher.jcals.csc.com>
  • To: xml-dev@xml.org
  • Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000 17:59:12 -0500

Tim Bray wrote:
> There have been XML search engines back as far as 1991 or thereabouts,
> then operating of course under the rubric of SGML search engines.  The 
> problems are identical.  For some years, there was a period when the 
> marketplace had exactly two vendors with credibility in this space: EBT,
> now part of Inso, with the "Dynatext" and other Dyna-* products, and my 
> company Open Text with "Pat".

   FWIW, the Dyna* line has now been bought by Enigma. Tough keeping up with
the M&As these days.  :-)

> So there is a considerable body of experience as to what such an API might
> be like.  For some reason, little of it is reflected in XPath.  W3C held
> a workshop on the notion of a query language for XML back in 1998, the
> proceedings are at http://www.w3.org/TandS/QL/QL98/, there are tons of
> position papers.  I wrote one that described the API offered by the old
> Open Text product at http://www.w3.org/TandS/QL/QL98/pp/sets.html, with
> extensions for namespaces.

   Some of this body of experience, and some of the position papers to which
you refer, came from the doc/content management system world. While not
nearly as credible in this space due to their more narrow focus, these
vendors also tackled the query issue in various ways, with varying degrees
of success.

> I remain convinced that my proposal offers everything you need in the real
> world to build successful applications that query the deep structure of
> XML.  At Open Text we proved that it can be implemented in a way that
> across huge volumes of data.
> My feeling is that the likelihood is that W3C will end up doing a QL
> that is in some sense cognate with XPath.  I'd love someone to step up
> and prove that a lighter-weight approach would work.  Note: I'm not on 
> that WG nor have I been following their work closely. -Tim

   Amazing that this still can't seem to get off the ground. A real query
langauge for XML has been under consideration for years (as Tim noted), and
is still necessary - XPath (wonderful thing that it is) isn't going to cut
it for robust query capabilities across loads of data. The expression of
interest in the last query workshop should be evidence enough of industry's
desire to see this happen.

Michael A. Rossi
856-983-4400 x4911

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