Beyond XML Query Languages
A query language is essential, if XML is to serve effectively as an exchange medium for large data sets. The design of query languages for XML is in its infancy, and the choice of a standard may be governed more by user acceptance than by any understanding of underlying principles. One would hope that expressive power, performance, and compatibility with other languages will be considered in choosing among alternatives, but it is likely that several contenders will co-exist for some time. It is worth observing that, during the 20-year development of relational query languages, several competing languages were developed; and even today there are several relational query language standards. In spite of this, a great deal of technology was developed that was independent of the surface syntax of a query language. This included technology "below" the language such as efficient execution models and work "above" the level of language - such as techniques for view definition and maintenance, triggers, etc. At Penn we are working on some of these language-independent issues. We include a summary of them here. They include execution and data models to support XML and semistructured query languages; the use of schemas and constraints in optimizing XML query languages; and tools for extracting data form existing sources and presenting it as XML.