Tamino Gains Query Power

Software AG's upgraded XML database provides XQuery support, faster performance for updates.

Organizations using XML-formatted data and struggling with ways to keep mounting XML data collections under control will find Software AGs Tamino XML Server 4.1.1 an effective tool.

The software let eWEEK Labs store XML data directly in the database, optionally verifying its conformance to an XML Schema document structure, and then let us query the data set to retrieve selected elements or attributes.

The major change in this release (Version 4.0, the first 4.x release, was a beta version) is support for the developing XQuery XML query language.

XQuery is still in the working-draft stage but is already much more powerful than Taminos own query language, called X-Query (mind the hyphen). Based on XPath, X-Query, which is still supported, is more compact than XQuery but lacks its ability to format returning data and form joins. As a result, XQuery is much more powerful and expressive than X-Query, and current Tamino users will find the addition compelling.

Tamino 4.1.1, which started shipping in January, runs on Windows; versions for Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, SCO UnixWare and Linux are expected to ship next quarter. On all platforms, Tamino, at $45,000 per CPU, is on the high end of the already expensive XML database market. Data gateways, sold separately for $4,500 per CPU per gateway, provide dynamic links to a variety of popular relational databases.

Oracle Corp.s Oracle Database Standard Edition 9i Release 2 costs $15,000 per CPU and provides similar XML storage features but not XQuery support. Those creating content management systems will find Oracle a better option, with its extensive set of document filters and full-text search capabilities. Tamino XML Server 4.1.1 provides full-text search support but only for data thats already in XML format. The next release of Tamino, due in May, will support the integration of non-XML document content indexers.

Although its not a relational database, Tamino 4.1.1 includes a number of relational database strengths. Most notable is a move away from the document-centric focus of Version 3.1—Tamino can now update individual nodes in an XML document without reading in and then writing out an entire XML document just to update one node. This will provide a performance boost for updates by a single user. However, each update still requires a document-level lock, blocking all other users trying to update other areas of the document. Software AG plans to add node-level locking in Tamino Version 5, expected late this year or early next year.

To define Tamino XML databases, we used its Schema Editor tool to import XML Schema files and then added a series of Tamino-specific elements to define indexing, full-text search and other metadata properties.

Taminos included management tools do the job but could benefit from a consolidation process—we found them quite scattered. Two different tools, a browser-based Tamino Interactive Interface and a Java-based Tamino X-Plorer, did similar things, but Interactive Interface gave different, more detailed error messages when we tried to load invalid schema files or invalid data sets. However, X-Plorer has more functionality, allowing us to view database contents and launch Taminos query test tool.

In addition to a variety of data loaders, Tamino offers a WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning) server that provides a very convenient way to import, access and delete Tamino data—we simply copied XML files into a WebDAV folder and could immediately query them from within Tamino. Deleting the files removed them from Taminos database.

Tamino provides a complete set of client APIs for accessing data: four Java APIs, a .Net API, an ActiveX-based API and a JavaScript API. A SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) API would be a good standards-based addition. A partially supported SOAP add-on is available at the Tamino developer site for testing; the company is evaluating feedback in preparation for a fully supported SOAP API.

West Coast Technical Director Timothy Dyck can be reached at timothy_dyck@ziffdavis.com.