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XML and SQL: Developing Web Applications

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XML and SQL: Developing Web Applications


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  • Copyright 2002
  • Dimensions: 7-3/8x9-1/4
  • Pages: 256
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-201-65796-1
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-201-65796-8

"Dan's book provides something that the formal standards and development manuals sorely lack: a context that helps developers understand how to use XML in their own projects."
--Tim Kientzle, Independent Software Consultant

XML and SQL: Developing Web Applications is a guide for Web developers and database programmers interested in building robust XML applications backed by SQL databases. It makes it easier than ever for Web developers to create and manage scalable database applications optimized for the Internet.

The author offers an understanding of the many advantages of both XML and SQL and provides practical information and techniques for utilizing the best of both systems. The book explores the stages of application development step by step, featuring a real-world perspective and many examples of when and how each technology is most effective.

Specific topics covered include:

  • Project definition for a data-oriented application
  • Creating a bullet-proof data model
  • DTDs (document type definitions) and the design of XML documents
  • When to use XML, and what parts of your data should remain purely relational
  • Related standards, such as XSLT and XML Schema
  • How to use the XML support incorporated into Microsoft's SQL Server™ 2000
  • The XML-specific features of J2EE™ (Java™ 2 Enterprise Edition)

Throughout this book, numerous concrete examples illustrate how to use each of these powerful technologies to circumvent the other's limitations. If you want to use the best part of XML and SQL to create robust, data-centric systems then there is no better resource than this book.


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Markup Languages: Why XML?

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Table of Contents


Who Should Read This Book?

Why Would You Read This Book?

The Structure of This Book.

My Day Job in the Multimodal World.


About the Author.

1. Why XML?

The Lesson of SGML.

What About XML?

Why HTML Is Not the Answer.

The Basics of XML.

Why You Don't Need to Throw Away Your RDBMS.

A Brief Example.

Great! How Do I Get Started?


2. Introducing XML and SQL: A History Lesson of Sorts.

Extensible Markup Language (XML).

Evaluating XML's Design Goals.

Structured Query Language (SQL).

What Is “Relational”?

Fitting It All Together.


3. Project Definition and Management.

An Illustrative Anecdote.

How to Capture Requirements.

CyberCinema: The Adventure Begins.

Requirements Gathering.

User Scenarios.

Functional Requirements Document.

Quality Assurance.

Unit Testing.

Integration Testing.

Project Management.

Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM).

Extreme Programming!

The Technical Specification Document.


4 Data Modeling.

Getting Data-Centric.

Show Me the Data!

What Do You Hope to Accomplish?

Making It Visual: Entity Relationship Diagrams.

Roll Film: Back to CyberCinema.

Normalization Equals Power: Defining Relationships.

Keep It Simple: No Really, I Mean It.

Getting Complex: Many-to-One and Many-to-Many Relationships.

Another Layer of Complexity: Adding Media.


5. XML Design.

Carving Your Rosetta Stone.

When to Use XML and When Not to Use It.

Think Like an Archeologist.

Building a DTD.

CyberCinema: The Rosetta Stone Meets the Web.

The Head.

The Body.

Building XML DTDs: Let the Experts Do Hard Stuff.


6. Getting Relational: Database Schema Design.

Knowing When to Let Go.

First Steps.

SQL and XML: The Joys of Partial Decomposition.

Decomposing CyberCinema.

XML Nitro Injection: Adding Reviews.

Link Management.

Selecting What You Need.

Using Link Management to Help Power Suggestions.


7. Related Standards: XSLT, XML Schema, and Other Flora and Fauna.

XSLT: XML Transformers!

So How Does XSLT Work Exactly?

XML Schema: An Alternative to DTDs.

Querying XML Documents.

XML Query.

SQLX: The Truth Is Out There.


8. XML and SQL Server 2000.

Contributed by JJ Kuslich.

Retrieving Data in XML Format.




Communicating with SQL Server over the Web.

Under the Hood.

Retrieving Data in XML Format-Continued.

SQL Queries in URLs.

Template Files.

XPath Queries.

HTTP Post Queries.

XML Views.

Defining XML Views.

Let SQL Server Do the Work.

Working with XML Documents.



9. Java Programming with XML and SQL.

Dealing with XML in Java.

Building Java Objects for XML Instances with DOM.

Using SAX Events to Drive XML Partial Decomposition.

Invoking XSLT Transformations.

Designing an Entity Bean for Movie Reviews.

To Transform or Not to Transform.



Bean Persistence.

JDBC Advanced Data Types.

On the Near Horizon: XML Data Binding.

J2EE Application Servers.


10. More Examples: Beyond Silly Web Sites.

Building a Web Service.

Corporate Phone Directory.

Stock Quotes.


Taxonomical Structure.

Document Management and Content Locking.

Versioning and Change Management.




Index. 0201657961T11282001


This book is about how you can use Extensible Markup Language (XML) and relational databases in the real world to solve real problems (as opposed to the sometimes academic world of standards bodies and other groups that promote standards usage). In other words, you can really use XML--it's not just hype. In this book, you will find concrete examples, insight into the application development life cycle as I've known it, and a discussion of the why, the how, and the where of building applications (with a special focus on Web applications) using the tools of XML and relational databases.

This book is not intended to be a comprehensive guide. It's an overview of the field, packed with good ideas and witty commentary, which should get you started in the right direction. The areas I've focused the most attention on are ones in which I have something useful to say. In other areas, I've provided an overview of concepts, and, instead of reinventing the wheel, I've included URLs that point you to useful and informative Web resources.

Who Should Read This Book?This book is intended primarily for software developers who are managing small- to medium-scale projects. My experience is mostly from working on small development teams, where resource limitations often dictate that the person writing the requirements for a project is also the engineer in charge of design and coding. This book is written from that perspective. If you work in a larger, more structured team or environment, you may find it strange that I'm talking about requirements gathering in one sentence and data modeling in the next, but this book can also be useful to you, if applied correctly. I've organized the chapters into the different stages of application design so that you can read through the entire book or flip to a particular piece of interest. In either case, you'll come away with something useful.

Familiarity with the concepts of databases and markup languages (specifically, knowledge of HyperText Markup Language--HTML) will make this book easier to understand. If you're new to markup languages and SQL, you'll still find this book helpful in explaining how they can be used together to develop applications. In addition, I recommend you read XML: A Manager's Guide by Kevin Dick (1999) for an overview of the XML language and its features. I also recommend SQL Queries for Mere Mortals: A Hands-On Guide to Data Manipulation in SQL by Michael J. Hernandez (2000).

Why Would You Read This Book?

Good question! I started writing this book after I worked on a content management application at TheStreet.com, which is an online financial news service--essentially an electronic newspaper--complete with journalists, editors, reporters, contributors, and columnists. TheStreet.com's publishing model was "multichannel"; they published their articles to their Web site (one "channel" of publication). They also published to other channels, such as syndicating articles to other sites (Microsoft Network, Yahoo!, and so forth) and to devices (PDAs, cell phones, pagers, what-have-you). This book is a result of my experiences in building a content management strategy for TheStreet.com and an application of everything I learned during that time, combined with in-depth material that I've picked up along the way. This book is best read when you're starting work on a project that has a content management component and you're thinking of using XML and a SQL database.

The Structure of This Book

This book is broken into ten chapters, corresponding roughly to the stages of application design and development.

1. Why XML? Notice I'm not asking the more mundane question, "What is XML?" This chapter instead delves into some specific examples of why XML is useful and why you want to start building systems with it.

2. Introducing XML and SQL: A History Lesson of Sorts. Chapter 2 provides a brief description of XML, its history and structure, and what it brings to the table. A similar discussion of SQL and the rise of the relational database follows.

3. Project Definition and Management. This chapter is a primer on getting the requirements for your system down on paper. It's included because I think this step is important, and I've often seen it done badly. Chapter 3 also discusses thinking about requirements from a perspective of building a "data-oriented" application. This chapter introduces two examples: a simple e-mail application and the CyberCinema Web site.

4. Data Modeling. After you have gathered your requirements, you have to start thinking abstractly about your data. It's a tough world out there, and without a bullet-proof data model to protect you, you're going to wake up one day and realize your life has been a dismal failure.

5. XML Design. You know why you should use XML because you read Chapter 1, but do you know where you should use it? What parts of your data make sense for XML, and what parts should remain purely relational? This chapter discusses the design of your XML documents, focusing on the document type definition (DTD) as a vehicle for this discussion.

6. Getting Relational: Database Schema Design. Now that you have your data model and your XML design, how do you best write a data schema to get the job done? This chapter is brimming with helpful examples.

7. Related Standards: XSLT, XML Schema, XML Query, and Other Flora and Fauna. What do you do with all this XML once you have it? This is where the Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL) comes into play. XSL can be used to translate XML for display or internal purposes. It can also be leveraged to aid in partial decomposition. XML Schema provides an alternative to DTDs in defining XML document structure. Query languages on the near horizon promise to query XML documents and SQL databases.

8. XML and SQL Server 2000. So how do you take all this XML and relational data and turn it into a real, living, breathing application--one that's actually useful and works? Here's one answer: Use the comprehensive XML support found in Microsoft's SQL Server 2000. This chapter presents a discussion of those features and delves into how you might use them to implement some of the strategies previously discussed.

9. Java Programming with XML and SQL. Another implementation strategy for your XML applications is to build them using the J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) framework. Chapter 9 introduces this framework and discusses some of its XML-specific features.

10. More Examples: Beyond Silly Web Sites. Chapter 10 provides other concrete examples of how to mix XML and SQL harmoniously.



& (ampersand), 69-70, 138
/ (forward slash), 76
< (less-than symbol), 69
@ (percent sign), 137
+ (plus sign), 137
; (semicolon), 69
AABSTRACT element, 118
Abstraction layer, 175
Active user involvement, 42
ADO (Microsoft Active Data Objects), 134
Algorithms, data encoding, 84
Allaire JRun, 176
Amaya browser, 24. See also Browsers
American Express, xvii-xviii
ANSI (American National Standards Institute), 22
AOL (America Online), 23
Apache, 106, 176
Application(s). See also Application program interfaces (APIs)

building, essential steps to, 9-10
-centric thinking, 57
data-oriented design of, 50-51
development cycle for, 28
"killer," 18
supporting a wide variety of, as a design goal, 15
Application program interfaces (APIs), 180, 184
JAXP (Java API for XML Processing), 158, 159-160, 162, 165-166, 171-172
JDBC (Java DataBase Connection API), 134, 158-159, 162-163, 165, 172-175
SAX (Simple API for XML), 158-160, 163-165
Archeologists, 64, 66-68
basic description of, 21
multidimensional, 21
SQL data maps and, 22-23
Art Technology Group, 176
ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange), 137
ASP (Microsoft Active Server Pages), 158
Astra, 42
ATG Dynamo, 176
ATTLIST keyword, 71
basic description of, 19, 64
IDs, 67-68
list declarations, 71
semantically encoded links and, 111-112
XLink and, 80
Audio CDs (compact discs), 4-5
AUTO mode, 132-133, 146, 147
b tag, 70
B2B (business-to-business) communications, xviii-xix
B2E (business-to-employee) communications, xix
Bandwidth, 17-18
base64 encoding, 84
BEA WebLogic, 176
Beck, Kent, 45
Berners-Lee, Tim, 12
Binary data. See also BLOBs (Binary Large Objects)
arbitrary, dealing with, 83-85
encoding, 84
formats, 16
pointing to, externally, 83
BLOBs (Binary Large Objects), 174-175
Body. See also BODY element
XLink and, 79-82
XML instance, 78-85
BODY element, 69, 70, 125. See also Body
Boldface font, 3, 13, 94
Bray, Tim, 80, 111
Bridging tables, 21, 103-104
Browsers. See also Internet Explorer browser (Microsoft)
HTTP and, 134
links and, 79, 105-107
URLs and, 137
XHTML and, 85
BR tag, 85
Bugs. See also Errors
schema and, 102
tracking, 41
Bugzilla, 41
C++ (high-level language), 158
Caching, 98-100, 171-172
Carlson, David, 38
Carriage returns, 74
CDATA (character data), 53, 69, 78
CDs (compact discs), 4-5
Census Bureau (United States), 50
CERN (European Center for Particle Physics), 12
Change management, 195-197
Character. See also CLOB (Character Large Object)
data (CDATA), 53, 69, 78
entities, 69-70
sets, 70
CHAR data type, 93
data modeling and, 57
DTDs as, 66
CLOB (Character Large Object), 93, 97, 174-175
commenting, 71
hard-coding, 6
Collaborative filtering, 110
Comments, 71
Communication styles, 34-35
Complexity, 58-60
Concise, use of the term, 17
Constitutional law, 11
integrity, 98
management, 95, 96, 98
Content authors, 112-113
Content model, 69, 74, 79, 201
Conversational style, 34-35
Corporate phone directory, 180-181
CREATE TABLE statement, 93, 96-98, 103
developers and, disconnect between, 42
requirements gathering and, 27-29
CyberCinema Web site
adding media to, 59-60
basic description of, 29-30
data modeling and, 49-61
decomposing, 100-113
DTD design and, 72-87, 201-207
functional requirements document for, 35-38
requirements gathering techniques and, 30-35
schema and, 91-114
user scenarios and, 30-33
binding, basic description of, 175
-centric approaches, 50-54
future-proofing, notion of, 2-3, 68
integrity, 90
management utilities, 99
Data types. See also Data types (listed by name)
attributes and, 19
data modeling and, 53
JDBC, 174-175
SQL, 93
Data types (listed by name). See also Data types
CHAR data type, 93
DATE data type, 103
TEXT data type, 93
varchar data type, 53, 93
create dates, 75
data type for, 103
DTDs and, 75, 77-78
last modified dates, 75
schema design and, 103
standards for, 77
two-digit, 17
use of the term, 75
Y2K issues and, 17
DBAs (database administrators), 68, 97
basic description of, 7, 95
caching and, 171
cautions for using, 83
of the CyberCinema Web site, 100-113
data synchronization and, 99
link management and, 107-108
partial, 94-100
problems with, 100
semantically encoded links and, 111-112
using SAX events to drive, 163-165
De facto standards, 24
DefaultHandler class, 163
De jure standards, 24
DELETE statement, 154
Dick, Kevin, xiv
-proofing, 68
recovery, 92
Document(s). See also DOM (Document Object Model); DTDs (document type definitions)
future-proofing, 2-3, 68
requirements, 35-42, 58, 59
working with, 152-154
DocumentBuilder object, 162
document tag, 8
DOM (Document Object Model)
basic description of, 159-160
building Java objects for XML instances with, 161-162
parser, 154, 158-160, 167
Domain-specific languages, 116
DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development Method), 42-43,
DSML (Directory Service Markup Language), 191
DTDs (document type definitions)
archives for, 86
basic description of, 63-66
building, 66-72, 85-86
comments and, 71
CyberCinema Web site and, 72-87, 201-207
data-oriented design and, 52
link management and, 107
processing without, 14-15
schema and, 91, 100, 101, 121-126
SQL Server and, 142
XML Views and, 142
Dummy files, creating, 67
Ease-of-use, importance if, 34
Easy recall, organizing data for, 96-98
E-business, 26-27, 185-188
EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), 117
Editors, 65
E-Doc, 1-2
EJBs (Enterprise Java Beans)
basic description of, 158, 166-170
JDBC and, 172-175
persistence of, 174
ELEMENT keyword, 69
Elements. See also Elements (listed by name); Tags
basic description of, 64
empty, 76
organizing, within blocks, 75-78
Elements (listed by name). See also Elements
ABSTRACT element, 118
BODY element, 69, 70, 125
FROM element, 69
HEAD element, 74-78, 125
MOVIE element, 81, 107, 125
PERSON element, 81, 107, 125
REVIEW element, 81, 125
SUBJECT element, 69, 70
TO element, 69
ElementType definition, 151
E-mail systems, 40, 96-99
building DTDs for, 68-72
data modeling and, 52-54
fields for, 52-53, 60, 67, 68, 71
numerical ID numbers and, 67-68
requirements and, 27-29
schema and, 91-114
Emergent property, use of the term, xviii-xix
em tag, 13, 14, 118-119
ENC (Environment Naming Context), 173
endDocument method, 163
endElement method, 163
references, 69-70
relationship diagrams, 54
sets, 69-70
Errors. See also Bugs
dead link, 105
decomposition and, 98
URLs and, 105, 137
Essential use cases, 37. See also Use cases
Expectations, managing, 27
EXPLICIT mode, 132-134, 146
Extreme programming (XP), 43-45
Extreme Programming Explained (Beck), 45
Fields, for e-mail messages, 52-53, 60, 67, 68, 71
Filtering, collaborative, 110
Flags, 83
Flash (Macromedia), 24
Fonts, 3, 70, 94, 201
FOR XML AUTO clause, 132-133
FOR XML clause, 131-132, 136, 146, 147
FOR XML EXPLICIT clause, 133-134, 143
Founding Fathers, 11
FROM element, 69
Functionality, 90


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