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IBM, Oracle Wait for Word on XQuery Spec

The official review on XQuery -- an XML-based language used to request data from databases -- began Tuesday, one week after rivals IBM and Oracle submitted a Java Specification Request (JSR 225) for it to the Java Community Process (JCP).

XQuery bears some resemblance to Structured Query Language , the original database query language created in an IBM lab, but as XML increasingly becomes the markup language du jour, IBM , Oracle and other software vendors have put their rivalries on the back burner, recognizing the need for a new, open language to query databases.

IBM and Oracle will form an XQuery group, which will include BEA, Sun, X-Hive, Sybase and DataDirect, and convene in July to develop a Java XQuery application programming interface (API) .

IBM discussed the need for XQuery in a public statement.

"Currently, placing queries to XML-tagged business information in databases requires proprietary code that either doesn't take full advantage of the XML format, or cannot be used consistently. When XQuery is approved, vendors that adhere to the standard will enable their products to work with related products from any software developer."

Oracle said it will handle the "proof of concept," with IBM contributing a compatibility kit -- a suite of tests, tools, and documentation that proves compliance with the specification.

As the other major database vendor, Microsoft has strong interest in XQuery, too. In April, the software giant teamed with IBM to submit an XQuery test suite to the World Wide Web Consortium, where the language is currently in working draft to become a standard. But Microsoft hawks its own languages over Java, and is not likely to support JSR 225.

The willingness for the three, fiercely competitive database vendors to work on such an open, important standard highlights the importance of the specification, which will allow the firms to build new products that help customers tap XML-tagged business information in their databases.

The Java API for XQuery is expected to reach "Final Release" status soon after XQuery becomes a "recommendation" from the W3C.