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XQuery: The XML Query Language

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XQuery: The XML Query Language


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How-to, example-rich book for XQuery written by the Technical Lead for XML Query Processing at Microsoft.

° A tutorial for developers who need to learn how to work with XQuery; an excellent reference to XQuery expressions for those who are already using the language.

° Written by Michael Brundage--a Microsoft insider who has worked with XQuery since its conception.

° Currently, there are no other competing XQuery tutorials/references suitable for both beginners and experts.


  • Copyright 2004
  • Dimensions: 7" x 9-1/4"
  • Pages: 544
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-321-16581-0
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-321-16581-7

“An excellent, early look at the emerging XML Query standard. The chapters on surprises and gotchas alone are worth the price of admission!”

         —Ashok Malhotra, Architect, Microsoft

“XQuery is the most important XML standard to emerge in recent years, and is a language with which anyone using XML on a regular basis should become acquainted. Michael Brundage's accessible introduction to XQuery provides enough information on all aspects of the standard, including its dark corners, to allow any XML developer to jump right in and start coding.”

         —Damien Fisher, Kernel Team Member, Soda Technologies Pty Ltd

“This book does an excellent job of distilling the essentials of XQuery in an understandable, straightforward and easily digestable manner. This book has already become an indispensible part of my library and is a welcome addition to my XML repertoire.”

         —Dare Obasanjo, Program Manager, Microsoft Corporation

“Simply put, the emerging XQuery standard adds enormous value to XML data and this book is your key to unlocking that value. Here in one stop you will find an accessible introduction to XQuery and a complete reference. Practitioners will particularly value the sections on XQuery idioms and surprises where Michael shares his tricks of the trade.”

         —Dave Van Buren, Project Manager, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

“It’s both a stupendous reference on XQuery and a good read. Michael writes with verve, authority, and an eminently readable style. What a rare delight to discover all this, and in a technical book too! When the sequel comes along, sign me up.”

         —Howard Katz, Owner, Fatdog Software Inc., Editor, XQuery from the Experts (Addison-Wesley, 2003)

From corporate IT departments to academic institutions, XML has become the language of choice for storing and transmitting data across diverse application domains. XQuery, an XML Query Language invented by the World Wide Web Consortium, offers a powerful, standardized way to query all of that XML-encapsulated information. With its ability to integrate XML and non-XML data, XQuery seems poised to do for XML what SQL has done for relational data.

Written by the Technical Lead for XML query processing at Microsoft, XQuery: The XML Query Language is an invaluable resource for XQuery novices and experts alike. For those new to XQuery, this example-rich text serves as a tutorial that brings readers quickly up to speed on XQuery's data model, type system, and core language features. More experienced XML and database developers will find an excellent reference on the nuances of various expressions, as well as a guide to using XQuery to accomplish specific tasks.

Drawing on his experiences using XQuery, Michael Brundage offers an objective, inside look at this emerging technology. His unique perspective translates into an accessible and authoritative guide for readers using XML for documents, Web services, or databases.

Key coverage includes:

  • Data model and type system
  • Path navigation
  • Iteration, construction, arithmetic, text processing, type operators and user-defined functions
  • Information beyond the standard—such as a look at update languages, performance benchmarks, query optimization, XQuery style, and much, much more
  • Hundreds of examples
  • The future of XQuery
  • The appendixes provide in-depth information on XQuery's type system, core expressions, built-in functions, regular expressions, and grammar. Meanwhile, the companion Web site offers downloadable source code for all of the examples in the book, the latest on the XQuery standard, answers to readers' questions, XQuery tips and strategies, and more.

    XQuery will show developers, programmers, and database administrators how a single line of this deep and powerful new language can accomplish the equivalent of hundreds of lines written in C, C#, Java, and other general-purpose programming languages.

    Sample Content

    Online Sample Chapter

    Navigation in XQuery

    Downloadable Sample Chapter

    Download the Sample Chapter related to this title.

    Table of Contents

    List of Figures.



    Who Should Read This Book?





    1. A Tour of XQuery.


    Getting Started.

    Notational Conventions.

    Why XQuery?

    Documents and Databases.

    Typed and Untyped Data.

    A Sample Query.

    Processing Model.

    Comments and Whitespace.




    Built-in Functions.





    Error Handling.


    Further Reading.

    2. Data Model and Type System.


    An Overview of XML Data Models.

    Structure of the XQuery Data Model.

    Atomic Types.

    Node Kinds.

    Common Type Conversions.


    Further Reading.

    3. Navigation.



    Navigation Functions.

    Navigation Context.

    Navigation Examples.

    Navigation Complexities.


    Further Reading.

    4. Functions and Modules.


    Built-in Function Library.

    Function Invocation.

    Function Conversion Rules.

    User-Defined Functions.


    External Functions.




    5. Basic Expressions.






    Query Prolog.


    Further Reading.

    6. Iteration.





    Comparing Sequences.




    Further Reading.

    7. Constructing XML.


    Element Nodes.

    Attribute Nodes.

    Text Nodes.

    Document Nodes.

    Comment Nodes.

    Processing Instruction Nodes.

    Namespace Nodes.



    Element and Attribute Content.


    Further Reading.

    8. Text Processing.


    The XML Character Model.

    Character Encodings.


    Text Operators.

    Text Functions.


    Further Reading.

    9. Type Operators.


    Cast and Castable.

    Type Conversion Rules.

    treat as.

    instance of and typeswitch.

    User-Defined Types.


    Further Reading.


    10. Practical Examples.





    Further Reading.

    11. Surprises.


    Confusion over Meaning.

    Confusion over Syntax.


    12. XQuery Serialization.


    XQuery Serialization.



    13. Query Optimization.


    Common Query Optimizations.

    Barriers to Optimization.

    Formal Semantics.


    Further Reading.

    14. Beyond the Standard.


    Potential Changes.

    Standards Roadmap.

    XQuery 1.1.

    Data Manipulation.

    Full-Text Search.

    Performance Benchmarks.


    Further Reading.


    Appendix A. Data Model and Type System Reference.



    Node Kinds.

    Atomic Types.

    Primitive Type Conversions.

    Built-in Atomic Types.

    Appendix B. Expression Reference.


    Appendix C. Function Reference.


    Appendix D. Regular Expressions.



    Advanced Regexps.

    Regexp Language.

    Character Properties.

    Appendix E. Grammar.


    The XQuery Grammar.

    Reserved Keywords.

    Operator Precedence.

    Working Drafts and Notes.
    Further Reading.


    It is with great pleasure that I present Michael Brundage's book about XQuery.

    More than twenty years ago, several things happened in the still young field of computer science, which are all somehow related to the book you now keep in your hands: The relational model revolutionized the management of data and introduced the notion of declaratively querying data; the nested array theory influenced database researchers and APL language designers to develop declarative algebras to operate on hierarchical data such as nested relations; the notion of document markup was standardized as SGML and found wide deployment in the document management community; and computer language researchers developed the notion of functional languages and the theory of type systems.

    Fast-forward to 1996: The database research community moved from object-model algebras that had their origin in the nested relational algebras to the field of semi-structure data management, which requires a data model that provides nesting of more complex and less regular structures. In the document management community, a couple of people, driven by the success of the SGML-based markup language HTML and the Worldwide Web as well as by the complexity of SGML set out to produce an SGML-lite under the umbrella of the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) that in 1997 came to be known as XML.

    Luckily, the database researchers realized that XML provides the self-describing, hierarchical structure that is well-suited for managing semi-structure data, and some people in the document and database communities realized that the additional, more document-centric features of XML such as document order and mixed content actually seem to get us much closer to one of the holy grails of database and document management: a unifying model to describe structured, semi-structured data and document markup.

    In 1998, the W3C organized a workshop to investigate whether there was a need for a query language on XML data. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and in late 1999 the XML Query working group was formed. Four years later, the working group is now finalizing the first version of the query language known as XQuery that combines important aspects of the last twenty-plus years of research in languages and data management such as declarativity, composability, functional semantics, and formal type systems.

    When I first encountered XML in 1997, while working at Stanford University as a research associate on semi-structured data management and information integration, it quickly became clear to me that XML will play an important role in modeling markup and semi-structured data and serve as a lingua franca for information exchange. When the XQuery working group started, I joined the group as the primary representative for Microsoft Corporation and was lucky enough to be able to enlist Michael Brundage to build one of the first XQuery prototypes that helped us to understand and influence the design of the language.

    This is not the only reason why Michael is highly qualified to write about XQuery. He is in the unique position of being an outsider with insider access and knowledge. This experience gives him a perspective on XQuery that should be very helpful for both the novice XQuery user, who wants to get to know the language, and the advanced XQuery user, who needs a comprehensive reference. He has written a book that is highly informative, logically organized, and goes beyond the pure reference characteristics of many programming and query language reference books. For instance, Michael identifies language properties and idioms that may surprise even advanced users of XQuery, and points out both the positive and negative aspects of a language which must satisfy a vast array of use cases, implementation environments, and interests.

    With the publication of the W3C insider book XQuery from the Experts: A Guide to the W3C XML Query Language, Addison-Wesley is bringing you the ultimate collection of XQuery books that should be able to satisfy even the most inquisitive mind about XQuery.

    Enjoy the book and keep it handy when you are in need of a dose of XQuery!

    Michael Rys
    Redmond, Washington
    November 2003


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