XML Database Indexes Unstructured Data

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2003-02-10 Print this article Print

Ixiasoft uses namespaces, WebDAV to ease searching of complex data sets.

XML database maker Ixiasoft Inc. is coming out with a new version of its TextML Server, an XML content server whose purpose is to store, index and retrieve XML content.

TextML Server 2.3, to be released this month, adds easier access to XML Namespaces, which serve as indexes to XML indexes. Essentially, the support provides a simple method of qualifying element and attribute names used in XML documents by associating them with namespaces identified by URL references.

The update adds support for WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning), a set of extensions to the HTTP protocol that facilitates exchange of documents over the Web and that allows for collaborative authoring.

The upgrade brings support for Adobe Systems Inc.s XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform), which enables XML metadata to be embedded within otherwise unsearchable application files, such as PDFs, scanned images or handwritten forms.

All this XML is good for the U.S. Air Force, which recently extended its license of TextML Server, thereby relieving some members of the armed forces of the need to lug around maintenance manuals weighing hundreds of pounds. Such manuals are the kind of unstructured data that is more easily searched in an XML database than in standard relational databases, said Ixiasoft officials, in Montreal.

Veridian Corp. embeds TextML Server into the technology for Air Force maintenance personnel. It enables them to use a Web browser to view electronic technical manuals for E-3 AWACS, or Airborne Warning and Control System, aircraft. Veridian, of Arlington, Va., will include a single-concurrent-user version of TextML Server within its Air Force Common Viewer, which enables online viewing of technical maintenance data and documents via an intranet or the Internet.

Bruce Watson, Veridians key project manager, said the company isnt upgrading to TextML 2.3 yet because it would involve modifying the document base to handle additional information. At this point, Veridian is still beta testing Version 2.2. But Watson thinks that, downstream, the enhancements coming in 2.3 will provide "interesting capabilities" in terms of manipulating XML and managing it for the Air Force.

Watson said support for namespaces will give Veridian more flexibility when building stylesheets. It will also ease the processing, managing and mining of data. Namespaces support will also help Veridian avoid corrupt formatting—a common occurrence in rich-formatting environments, Watson said.

Veridian will likely make good use of the XMP support, Watson said.

"The ability to attach metadata to documents so you can identify which document applies to what without having to translate the whole document into [Standard Generalized Markup Language] and make the entire thing structured" will save Veridian and its customers from the aggravation of converting noncritical documents, he said.

Standard pricing for TextML 2.3 is $10,000 per server.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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