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11.4 Summary

When you consider shredding XML documents into relational tables, remember that XML and relational data are based on fundamentally different data models. Relational tables are flat and unordered collections of rows with strictly typed columns, and each row in a table must have the same structure. One-to-many relationships are expressed by using multiple tables and join relationships between them. In contrast, XML documents tend to have a hierarchical and nested structure that can represent multiple one-to-many relationships in a single document. XML allows elements to be repeated any number of times, and XML Schemas can define hundreds or thousands of optional elements and attributes that may or may not exist in any given document. Due to these differences, shredding XML data to relational tables can be difficult, inefficient, and sometimes prohibitively complex.

If the structure of your XML data is of limited complexity such that it can easily be mapped to relational tables, and if your XML format is unlikely to change over time, then XML shredding can sometimes be useful to feed existing relational applications and reporting software.

DB2 offers two methods for shredding XML data. The first method uses SQL INSERT statements with the XMLTABLE function. One such INSERT statement is required for each target table and multiple statements can be combined in a stored procedure to avoid repetitive parsing of the same XML document. The shredding statements can include XQuery and SQL functions, joins to other tables, or references to DB2 sequences. These features allow for customization and a high degree of flexibility in the shredding process, but require manual coding. The second approach for shredding XML data uses annotations in an XML Schema to define the mapping from XML to relational tables and columns. IBM Data Studio Developer provides a visual interface to create this mapping conveniently with little or no manual coding.

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