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Where there's a canonical and frequently referred-to sequence or hierarchy
to data, then fixing such relations in the physical representation of the
data model has benefits.
This is one area where I'm at a loss as to why our friend Fabian finds XML
so abhorrent. On the one hand he chastises RDBMS folks for tying logical
representation to a fixed physical representation, and thereby giving no
relief to performance problems. Yet it seems XML addresses precisely the
kinds of performance issues that RDBMS have with physically representing
natural hierarchies and sequential relationships.
Why can't XML be an optimized physical representation of some relational
(logical) model? Yes, it will be slow for ad hoc queries, but it will be
fast for natural hierarchies and sequences, which occur often enough in the
real world to hard code them in a physical model.