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W3C Close In on Key XML Specs

The World Wide Web consortium (W3C) had a landmark day for XML development, recommending XSLT 2.0 and XML XQuery 1.0 as standards for transforming and querying XML.

Such specs are considered to be crucial for accelerating the adoption of distributed computing models, such as Web services and service-oriented architectures (SOA) .

But more important is the work XSLT 2.0 and XML Query 1.0 enable together: triggering database integration.

Connections between applications, databases, operating systems, Web services and Web servers have traditionally used middleware to convert data between the formats used by various applications. XSLT 2.0 and XML XQuery 1.0 will make those conversions, enabling users to focus on more important business logic.

Vendors recognize the value of these standards working in tandem. Supporters include the world's largest makers of middleware, including IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and BEA Systems. XQuery in particular has been gaining great support.

XML tools maker DataDirect Technologies earlier this year said 52 percent of 550 XML developers surveyed have started working with XQuery 1.0.

W3C said in a statement that XSLT 2.0 is a major revision to the XSL transformations language for transforming XML content into other formats, including other types of XML.

For example, programmers can use XSLT to transform XML output from a database into an XHTML Web site.

XSLT 2.0 includes the ability to create multiple output documents or to create user-defined XPath functions. XSLT 2.0, which supports the W3C XML Schema, boasts "strong typing," a feature designed to reduce errors in programs.

While XSLT transforms XML, XML Query 1.0 adds database search to XML. Users can use XML Query to search XML documents and relational database tables on various vendors' databases.

XML Query also uses XML Schema to provide a strongly typed programming or scripting language and relies on XPath 2.0 as the selection vocabulary.

The documents are: XSL Transformations (XSLT) Version 2.0; XSLT 2.0 and XQuery 1.0 Serialization; XML Syntax for XQuery 1.0 (XQueryX); XQuery 1.0: An XML Query Language; XML Path Language (XPath) 2.0; XQuery 1.0 and XPath 2.0 Data Model (XDM); XQuery 1.0 and XPath 2.0 Functions and Operators; XQuery 1.0 and XPath 2.0 Formal Semantics.

The XSL Working Group and the XML Query Working Group, which produced these documents, are asking implementors to test the specs at their convenience.

The Java Community Process has released initial work on XQJ, the XQuery API for Java, while the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has already incorporated XML Query into SQL in part 14 of ISO SQL (SQL/XML).