|By Selim Mimaroglu||
|October 13, 2004 12:00 AM EDT||
This article looks in detail at how to generate XML data from your relational database. Although the examples were run on Oracle, very little of the code is Oracle specific. You can easily use all the ideas and examples presented here in other relational databases. We did this project at University of Massachusetts Boston as part of the Electronic Field Guide (EFG) project.
XML is the de facto standard for data exchange. It's simple, Unicode based, and platform independent. XML is a metadata language; it contains information about the data. All these features make it an attractive standard for exchanging data.
Why Generate XML from Relational Data?
Today most data (80% or more), is stored in relational databases such as Oracle, DB2, SQL Server 2000, and others. The Internet and Web services are present in our daily lives. A tremendous amount of data is transferred over the Internet between businesses. Data transfers may happen within a company, between different branches, or between different companies and individuals. No matter which of these situations applies to you, it's very likely that you will be asked to ship your data in XML, or that you are already doing it. Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) are still the best way to hold data in bulk. In the following paragraph we will give some information about our project and related resources that we used to provide relational data in XML.
Our XML project is part of the Electronic Field Guild (EFG). The EFG project is an object-oriented, Web-based database for the identification of species and recording of ecological observations. With funding from the National Science Foundation, this project is the result of the collaborative efforts between the Departments of Computer Science and Biology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. EFG queries the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). On each query we only get a very small part of the ITIS database. XML can describe exactly what data it is delivering, and thus is the preferred format for the query results.
There are three ITIS branches: Canadian, Mexican, and U.S. U.S. ITIS provides the whole data in bulk (about 85MB), but, like many other organizations, it has been slow to join the modern trend to answer queries on it in XML format. Canadian ITIS provides query results in XML, but due to networking delays and some other problems, getting the result takes a long time. We decided to bring the whole database home and return the results of queries in XML format. We are using an RDBMS to store the bulk data. In the following paragraphs we will explain how to generate XML from this relational data.
This emerging standard enables us to generate XML fragments from relational data. Oracle and many other relational databases support the following standard SQL/XML functions. We will explain most of the SQL/XML functions, XMLElement, XMLAttributes, XMLForest, XMLAgg, and give an example for each.
As its name implies, this function generates an XML element. It takes an element name, an optional collection of attributes for the element, and zero or more arguments that make up the element content and returns an instance of type XMLType.
Table 1 is the schema of the "experts" table from our database. All the simple examples are related to this table, and Oracle was used for most cases.
Table 2 shows some of the data from the experts table.
WHERE expert_id BETWEEN 4 and 10;
XML2CLOB( XMLELEMENT(NAME "name", expert) )
WHERE expert_id BETWEEN 4 and 10
<name>Stotler, Raymond E.</name>
<name>Alfred L. Gardner</name>
<name>Steve J. Upton</name>
Here, name is the tag name; expert is the corresponding column name in the experts table. This query obtains the expert column value from the experts table and puts <name> and </name> tags around it.
This function simply creates attributes for an element. Listing 1 shows how it works.
Each name element has an id attribute. Each id attribute is obtained from the expert_id column value of the experts table. The XMLAttributes clause isn't used alone; it's used inside an XMLElement function. This makes sense since, in XML, an attribute is a name-value pair attached to the associated element's start tag.
The XMLForest() function produces a forest of XML elements from the given list of arguments. In other words, it produces many XML elements at a time.
In Listing 2, expert is the root element. The id, name, and info elements are children of expert element. The XMLForest function created three elements: the id element corresponds to expert_id column value; the name element corresponds to expert column value; and the info element corresponds to the exp_comment column value in experts table. Naming the elements in this function is accomplished by using AS keyword. For the first element it is expert_id as "id".
What if you don't specify an id (id = 6 in this example)? In this case you will have the appropriate XML fragment for each row.
XMLAgg() is an aggregate function that produces a forest of XML elements derived from a set of rows.
In Listing 3, there are five name elements as children of the experts root element. Without using XMLAgg() function it's impossible to have many name elements in a single XML document. If you don't use the XMLAgg() function and instead submit the query, you will get Listing 4.
That's not what we wanted. For this output, each experts element has only one name child element, and there are many experts elements. To combine information from multiple rows of the table we need to use the XMLAgg() function.
Creating hierarchical data is easy. Listing 5 shows you how to do this. You can use this idea in similar queries. This example involves the taxonomic_units table, which stores data about species, phyla, etc., i.e. nodes in the tree of life. Note the select within the select, to run through the inner loop.
I hope these examples have convinced you that it's possible to generate XML that obeys any XML Schema or DTD. You can use these functions, nested in each other, to display any kind of parent-child relation. Another such query could display all the experts for each taxon.
This is easy! You can start using these functions as soon as you finish reading this article. Being flexible adds value to this approach. An important point that's worth mentioning is that all the work is done inside the database by using the SQL/XML functions. In the Oracle case, all the work is done in the XML DB Engine. This is much faster and more efficient than doing the work outside the database. Another approach would be to get the data from the database and tag it outside the database for creating XML. This is possible but less efficient, more time consuming. The following are more advanced topics, such as XMLType View and XML Schema validation.
A view is a table that results from a subquery, but which has its own name and can be treated in most ways as if it were an ordinary table. Thus a view table is a logical window on selected data from the base tables and other views. XMLType views wrap the relational data in XML formats. In other words you can have a virtual XML file over your relational data inside the database. We can treat this new view as XML, and use XML specific operations on it, such as XPath and XQuery. These types of operations will be converted to corresponding SQL; this is known as query rewrite. You can create this view by using SQL/XML functions. Our SQL, which generates an XMLType view is shown in the source code, create.sql, online at www.syscon.com/xmlj/sourcec.cfm. Below is a simpler example, for better understanding.
SQL> CREATE OR REPLACE VIEW expert_view of XMLTYPE WITH OBJECT ID (EXTRACT(sys_nc_rowinfo$,[email protected]').getnumberval()) AS SELECT XMLELEMENT("experts", XMLAGG( XMLELEMENT("expert", XMLATTRIBUTES(expert_id as "id"), expert))) FROM experts WHERE expert_id BETWEEN 4 and 10; View created.
This is how the view looks when you query it. This XMLType view is created over the experts table. The data displayed comes from the underlying relational table.
SQL> SELECT * FROM expert_view; SYS_NC_ROWINFO$ <experts> <expert id="4">Stotler, Raymond E.</expert> <expert id="5">Alfred L. Gardner</expert> <expert id="6">Steve J. Upton</expert> <expert id="8">Wayne Starnes</expert> <expert id="10">Lynne Parenti</expert> </experts>
It's possible to use XPath expressions on this view. Following is a query that has an XPath expression. This query extracts the value of an expert element that has an id attribute equal to 4.
SQL> SELECT extract(value(x), '/experts/expert[@id=4]') FROM expert_view x;
<expert id="4">Stotler, Raymond E.</expert>
First Step: Register an XSD
You can validate an XMLType instance against XML Schema Documentation (XSD) in Oracle. First, register the XSD in Oracle. Next, call a function that does the validation. There are several functions in Oracle for accomplishing this. Listing 6 is the only one shown, for simplicity.
This will register the XSD and name it as expert_view.xsd. You can name it anything you want of course.
Second Step: Validation
This section introduces isSchemaValid (argumet1, argument2). The first argument is the name of the registered XSD. The second argument is the name of the root element in the specified XSD. XSD can have more than one root. If the XML document (x in this case) is valid, this isSchemaValid returns 1.
SQL> select x.isSchemaValid('expert_view.xsd', 'experts') from expert_view x;
Putting It Together
For our project we generated XML that obeys our XML Schema Documentation (XSD)[itis.xsd]. Our SQL is shown in the source code for this article (available online at www.sys-con.com/xmlj/sourcec.cfm). It will output all the data in XML. As you can see, this query is significantly nested and long, but it's easy to understand (I hope). There are a few more functions in this query that we would like to mention: trim() simply gets rid of the white space in an entry and the to_char() function is used to change the date format. For example, to_char(v.up date_date, 'YYYY-MM-DD') will display the date as something like 2004-04-23. This is somewhat important because the date format in the database doesn't match the date format of the XML Schema.
In this project we deliver XML through a search server. Using this server, you can query the database by tsn, which is identical to the identification number of a taxonomic unit. e.g. a particular animal or plant. For this part of the project we used:
- Sun Enterprise 250 Server: 2 X UltraSPARC-II 400MHz, 2GB memory, SCSI disks
- Sun Solaris Operating System 5.8
- Oracle 9.2i
- JAVA 1.4.2
- Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) inside JavaBeans for connecting to and querying the database. We preferred the Oracle thin driver to the oci driver.
- JavaServer Pages (JSP) at the user interface level
- Tomcat 5.0.12
- Use Oracle Connection Pool
- Turn off the auto commit feature
- Use predefined column types in the select statement.
If you are not already doing so, you will probably be delivering your data in XML format soon. Keep in mind that most data resides in relational databases so generating XML from relational databases will be a very common task. Many of the database vendors, such as Oracle and DB2, provide the SQL/XML function support to make this task easier. SQL Server 2000 adds a new clause, the FOR XML clause, to the SELECT statement, which instructs SQL Server to return the result of a query in XML format.
Based on our experiments, generating XML data inside the database is fast; it took an average of 0.032 seconds per taxon query. Storing your data without the start and end tags is space efficient. Relational databases are very mature about storing, querying, and retrieving data quickly and efficiently. There has been over 20 years of work done in these technologies.
For larger projects, having XMLType views over the relational tables is advantageous. It gives you the chance to query the data using XPath and XQuery besides SQL.
In this article we provided some insight about SQL/XML functions, mentioned the benefits of storing data in relational databases, and explored the benefits of using XMLType views over relational data. For more detailed information about SQL/XML functions, check your database documentation.
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Jul. 25, 2016 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 937
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Jul. 25, 2016 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,681
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 25, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,968
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...
Jul. 25, 2016 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 849
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...
Jul. 25, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 942
Early adopters of IoT viewed it mainly as a different term for machine-to-machine connectivity or M2M. This is understandable since a prerequisite for any IoT solution is the ability to collect and aggregate device data, which is most often presented in a dashboard. The problem is that viewing data in a dashboard requires a human to interpret the results and take manual action, which doesn’t scale to the needs of IoT.
Jul. 25, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,927
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Jul. 25, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 440
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
Jul. 25, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,817
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
Jul. 25, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 904
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) and Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) have entered into a definitive agreement under which Verizon will acquire Yahoo's operating business for approximately $4.83 billion in cash, subject to customary closing adjustments. Yahoo informs, connects and entertains a global audience of more than 1 billion monthly active users** -- including 600 million monthly active mobile users*** through its search, communications and digital content products. Yahoo also co...
Jul. 25, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 331
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
Jul. 25, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,942
"Tintri was started in 2008 with the express purpose of building a storage appliance that is ideal for virtualized environments. We support a lot of different hypervisor platforms from VMware to OpenStack to Hyper-V," explained Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 25, 2016 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,868
The best-practices for building IoT applications with Go Code that attendees can use to build their own IoT applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Indraneel Mitra, Senior Solutions Architect & Technology Evangelist at Cognizant, provided valuable information and resources for both novice and experienced developers on how to get started with IoT and Golang in a day. He also provided information on how to use Intel Arduino Kit, Go Robotics API and AWS IoT stack to build an application tha...
Jul. 25, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 997
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Jul. 25, 2016 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,133
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
Jul. 25, 2016 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,106
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Jul. 25, 2016 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,012
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
Jul. 25, 2016 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,280
Large scale deployments present unique planning challenges, system commissioning hurdles between IT and OT and demand careful system hand-off orchestration. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Smith, Senior Director and a founding member of Incenergy, will discuss some of the key tactics to ensure delivery success based on his experience of the last two years deploying Industrial IoT systems across four continents.
Jul. 25, 2016 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,505
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
Jul. 25, 2016 05:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,382
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
Jul. 25, 2016 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,021