Users judge BEA's XQuery play
- By Jack Vaughan
XQuery is a query language designed to be broadly applicable across many types of XML data sources. Among bigger software players outside of the database realm, none has been faster off the block to promote XQuery than BEA Systems. The company forged a deal with and then bought XQuery software firm Enosys, maker of Liquid Data, and has brought aspects of that technology into its own suite ever since. All this is part of the company's efforts to make integration a less-intensive task for developers. And just last month, BEA Systems announced the general availability of BEA Liquid Data for WebLogic 8.1.
"This gives us a data product in its broadest sense," said Pavey Purewal, BEA's product manager. "It's doing real-time data access and aggregation, allowing you to access a variety of back-end systems."
"We use XML here as an underlying data model," said Ajay Patel, vice president and general manager of BEA Liquid Data. "It provides a good way of describing the views we want to create -- for example, a single view of the customer. You define this in an XML schema definition along with the logical view, and Liquid Data captures the meta data between the physical sources and this logical view and does the mapping."
Added Patel, "We use XQuery as a data definition language, as well as a query language."
Interest in XQuery often runs close on the heels of interest in XML and Web services integration. At top-rung consultancy Accenture, such methods have gained more attention. With XML, XQuery and the like, the protocol for app-to-app communication has been standardized, making integration decisions a lot easier, suggests Jamison Jeff, manager in Accenture's Communications and High-Technology Practice.
Early estimates suggest XQuery may be at the heart of emerging efforts to integrate data sources using less developer effort. "XQuery is still evolving. It is new, but it does have support from all of the major platform vendors," said Jeff.
The merits of XQuery lay in its potential to seamlessly blend diverse sources. "XQuery is a mechanism for handling both XML documents and non-structured data sources. It is something like an XML version of SQL," he said. As with SQL data development today, DBAs will get involved with XQuery as its use expands, said Jeff.
But, he noted, "it can query sources other than databases, so I wouldn't see the DBA per se as acting as [the] lead" on XQuery-related efforts.
"We are using the Liquid Data product on a number of diverse projects, and our clients have liked the features it provides," continued Jeff. "It allows 'n-level' joins. In a typical relational database, you can join two tables, but this lets you join sources of any type. They could be flat files, enterprise application data, mainframe data or relational data. Through the [Liquid Data] data view builder, you can bring up a schema and, with a GUI tool, create appropriate mappings."
Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.