XML plumbing not entirely a done deal

I'll second this follow-up to Steve Gillmor's provocative Notes is Dead :

The Notes single data store is the singular innovation: an unstructured database upon which mail, calendaring and scheduling, and line-of-business applications could be constructed, layered, and linked. [ InfoWorld, Steve Gillmor, Ahead of the Curve ]

During the mid 1990s, I came to see the Internet rather than Notes as the platform that would have the flexibility and, above all, the ubiquity to tackle these kinds of applications in the most fruitful ways. The pre-XML structured-text datastores underlying mail, NetNews, and the web were (and are) a compelling benefit of the Internet way of doing things. But they were (and are) also problematic in many ways. The coherence Notes brought to applications based on semi-structured data was never matched by my ad-hoc Perl scripts.

In retrospect it's clear to me that for all its prescience, Notes could not single-handedly move the discipline of data management three decades forward. That's how long I figure it will take -- from twenty years ago to ten years from now -- for SQL's table-oriented and XML's document-oriented styles to merge into a unified discipline.

I know what Don Box means when he says that end is near for web services plumbing, and it's time to move on to applications. Agreed, but those applications are increasingly about XML-structured rather than SQL-structured data. Given that the W3C's use case document for XQuery and the XML:DB Initiative's use case document for XUpdate are completely unrelated, I'd say there is some pretty basic plumbing still to be done.

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2002/09/03.html#a395