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RE: Against the Grain: Pascal commentary about XML and databases


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ken North [
> Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2001 3:38 PM
> To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
> Subject: Against the Grain: Pascal commentary about XML and databases

> XML data management: Setting some matters straight
> 439,00.html

Hmmm. Mr. Pascal certainly has a rhetorical style that won't win him many friends, at least in the XML arena!  Check out http://www.firstsql.com/dbdebunk/neocore1.htm  Someone tried to bring the existence of an XML database product to his attention, and got the response "This is a nonsensical statement. I wish there was a more delicate way to respond to this, but unfortunately the only thing I can say is that you really don't understand data fundamentals and you missed the point of my article. People without a decent understanding of data fundamentals should not be in the database business."

Or "XML authors should have considered the implications for data management in general, and relational database management in particular, when they invented XML. Not having a background in the field, they did not."  I'm wondering whether the inventors of SGML/XML *did* have much of a database background (perhaps they were motivated by the challenges of using RDBMSs for handling textual data?).  But I'm also wondering if he may have a point, e.g., the challenges of maintaining "referential integrity" between entity references and the replacement text, when XPath and the InfoSet assumes that the expansion occurred before the query is applied.

My biggest question after reading his stuff is "If the pure relational model is so powerful, why have the RDBMS vendors, presumably driven by customer demand, supported "post-relational" Object-Relational and XML features in their recent releases?"  I personally doubt if "ignorance" is the answer.

I keep hoping that there is some middle ground where the rigorous mathematics of the relational model and the pragmatic usability of XML can meet and inform one another.  In private correspondence, Mr. Pascal assured me that a truly mathematical model of XML is impossible, but I'm keeping an open mind.