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TEXTML By IxiaSoft

TEXTML By IxiaSoft

Over the past year I've worked on a few projects that involved document encoding to XML. I don't think I'm alone. Since the evolution of XML, many IT departments have been looking for a way to archive all that rich, marked-up content.

This month I had the opportunity to use IxiaSoft Inc.'s TEXTML Server. Simply put, TEXTML is an XML content server used specifically to index, store, and retrieve XML documents. Included are development tools designed to enable shops to come up with their own proprietary solutions for storing their XML documents. According to IxiaSoft, TEXTML Server is the first embeddable XML database designed for shops and developers of XML applications such as WAP, B2B, B2C, and CRM. As a bonus, the server allows the storage of any binary file. TEXTML Server can store and retrieve pictures, video, and sound. I was able to easily retrieve binary files via file name or reference within its XML document.

What makes TEXTML special is its ability to store the entire XML document in the database without removing the content. The entire document is stored completely intact. The server then creates the indexes based on the XML document elements. Since TEXTML does not strip out the document content, the indexes are smarter by being able to understand if the word is being used in the correct context and if it's important.

Index creation is made fairly straightforward by the use of the Microsoft Management Console, which has very intuitive wizards.

Most relational databases have graphical front ends. TEXTML does not. Using the COM API included in the TEXTML Software Development Kit you can create your own interface using languages/tools such as JavaScript, VB, Visual C++, or Delphi. If you like you can use ASP to directly access XML content in the database. As a side project, I was able to get a Visual Basic GUI up and going in a snap.

One unexpected feature I came to enjoy was the ability of the server to automatically detect and repair corrupt indexes - without ever shutting down the database. Also, if the database is ever corrupted, it will automatically back itself up and try to recover from the last known good documents. Nice!

The documentation is organized and easy to follow. TEXTML also provided a demonstration GUI programmed in Active Server Pages. I used this as a tutorial and found it straightforward and very helpful. This ASP interface allowed me to play with more than 500 sample XML documents, many of such quality I was tempted to "borrow" them! Online demo examples include a multimedia library and an e-commerce catalog. A COM API, as well as an ASP toolkit, is also provided.

I found the TEXTML Server to be easily flexible and configurable via the administration console, which is used to administer the server; for security; to document bases and update settings; to create, install, and uninstall document bases; and to modify the structure of the document bases (the definition of indexes). IxiaSoft is currently adding more functionality and clearer navigation features to the console. I look forward to them.

How to Download
IxiaSoft offers a free, downloadable evaluation version, TEXTML Server Lite, which provides the same functions as TEXTML Server but with a limitation of 1,000 documents. You can use the Lite edition for as long as you like - there's no time limit; if you decide to upgrade, the Lite applications remain intact and can be used by TEXTML Server. It's available in a free edition at www.ixiasoft.com. The Lite version is a great tool to build prototypes without spending any money.

Future Improvements
Unlike relational databases, TEXTML has no graphical front end. Although, as mentioned above, you're allowed to write your own, I can certainly understand why a few developers are surprised by the lack of a GUI front end. However, if you're used to command-line databases (such as Oracle) you should be okay. At any rate, IxiaSoft promises more front-end GUI support as the product evolves. In addition, I was not allowed to split a document base across multiple servers. This was not a major issue for me but may be for other developers. Again, IxiaSoft will address this issue in future releases.

Finally, in a desperate effort to crash the server, I "bombed" it with all the documents I had, and promptly crashed it when my document base grew to over 3GB. After a few more attempts, I found that I had hit the 1,000-document limit (I was using the Lite version). My project had evolved from the "proof of concept" stage into a full-blown enterprise solution. I had outgrown the free Lite version. I hope my project manager is reading this because she needs to immediately write a check to IxiaSoft so I can finish up her project with the full server.

Final Thoughts
At $10,000 per server, TEXTML is not overly expensive compared to other database engines. Even with the few drawbacks mentioned, IxiaSoft Inc.'s TEXTML is an excellent product for companies that are moving their document encoding to XML. If you write WML Server applications, work in digital asset management, or newspaper, legal, financial, pharmaceutical, or Web publishing, TEXTML is a solid XML database server. Give it a peek.

825 Querbes Avenue, Suite 200
Outremont, Quebec H2V3X1, Canada
Web: www.ixiasoft.com
Fax: +1-514-279-3947
E-mail: [email protected]
Toll free in North America: 1-877-279-IXIA

Test Environment OS: Windows NT 4.0 Processor: PIII 500 Memory: 128MB RAM

More Stories By Bob Hendry

Bob Hendry is a PowerBuilder instructor for Envision Software Systems and a frequent speaker at national and international PowerBuilder conferences. He specializes in PFC development and has written two books on the subject, including Programming with the PFC 6.0.

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