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SQLPrepare ( hstmt, "SELECT CD_ID, CD_TITLE, IN_STOCK FROM COMPACT_DISCS WHERE COMPACT_DISC_ID = ", SQL_NTS );
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Learn the Basics of XML Learn About SQL/XML
he Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a general-purpose markup language used to describe documents in a format that is convenient for display on web pages and for exchanging data between different parties. The specifications for storing XML data in SQL databases were added to the SQL standard in SQL:2003 as Part 14 (arguably the most significant enhancement to that version of the standard). Part 14, also known as SQL/XML, was expanded in SQL:2006 and some error corrections were published in 2007.
NOTE
SQL/XML is not at all the same as Microsoft s SQLXML, which is a proprietary technology used in SQL Server. As you can imagine, the unfortunate similarity in names has caused much confusion. Microsoft participated in the standards proceedings for SQL/XML, but then chose not to implement it.
Learn the Basics of XML
In order to understand SQL/XML, you must first understand the basics of XML. While a complete explanation of XML is well beyond the scope of this book, this topic provides a brief overview. You can find a lot more information by searching on the Internet. You may already be familiar with HTML, the markup language used to define web pages. If so, the syntax of XML will look familiar. This is because both are based on the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), which itself is based on Generalized Markup Language (GML), which was developed by IBM in the 1960s. A markup language is a set of annotations, often called tags, that are used to describe how text is to be structured, formatted, or laid out. The tagged text is intended to be human-readable. One of the fundamental differences between HTML and XML is that HTML provides a predefined set of tags, while XML allows the author to create their own tags. Let s look at a sample XML document that contains the results of an SQL query. Figure 18-1 shows two artists from the PERFORMERS table and five of their CDs from the CD_INVENTORY table. As you learned in 11, we can easily join the two tables using an SQL SELECT statement like this one:
SELECT a.PERF_NAME, a.PERF_ID, b.CD_NAME, b.IN_STOCK FROM PERFORMERS a JOIN CD_INVENTORY b ON a.PERF_ID = b.PERF_ID ORDER BY a.PERF_NAME, b.CD_NAME;
18:
Working with XML Data
PERFORMERS PERF_ID: PERF_NAME: INT VARCHAR(60) 101 104 Joni Mitchell Bonnie Raitt
CD_INVENTORY CD_NAME: VARCHAR(60) Both Sides Now Blue Court and Spark Longing in Their Hearts Fundamental PERF_ID: IN_STOCK: INT INT 101 101 101 104 104 13 24 17 18 22
Figure 18-1
The PERFORMERS and CD_INVENTORY tables
Note that I used the ORDER BY clause to specify the order of the rows in the result set. The query results should look something like this:
PERF_ID ------104 104 101 101 101 PERF_NAME ---------------Bonnie Raitt Bonnie Raitt Joni Mitchell Joni Mitchell Joni Mitchell CD_NAME ----------------------Fundamental Longing in Their Hearts Blue Both Sides Now Court and Spark IN_STOCK -------22 18 24 11 17
The query results are well suited for display or printing, but they are not in a form that would be easy to display on a web page or to pass to another computer application for further processing. One way to make this easier is to convert the query results into XML as shown here:
<artists> <artist id="104"> <name>Bonnie Raitt</name> <CDs> <CD stock="22"><name>Fundamental</name></CD> <CD stock="18"><name>Longing in Their Hearts</name></CD> </CDs> </artist> <artist id="101"> <name>Joni Mitchell</name> <CDs> <CD stock="24"><name>Blue</name></CD> <CD stock="11"><name>Both Sides Now</name></CD>
SQL: A Beginner s Guide
<CD stock="17"><name>Court and Spark</name></CD> </CDs> </artist> <!-- Additional artists available soon --> </artists>
As you can see in the code listing, tags are enclosed in angle brackets and each start tag has a matching end tag that is identical except that the name has a slash (/) in front of it. HTML uses an identical convention. For example, the tag <artists> starts the list of recording artists, while the end tag </artists> ends it. Within the artists list, the information for each individual artist begins with the <artist> tag, which includes a data value for the artist id attribute, and ends with the </artist> tag. It is customary (and considered a best practice) to name a list using the plural of the tag name used for each item in the list. Comments can be added using a special tag that begins with <!-- and ends with --> as shown in the next to last line of the example. Data items and values, such as those that would be stored in a relational table column, can be coded as name and value pairs in one of two ways. The first way is using an XML attribute by naming the attribute inside another tag, followed by the equals sign and the data value enclosed in double-quote characters, such as I did with the id and stock attributes. The second way is using an XML element by creating a separate tag for the data item with the data value sandwiched between the start and end tags, such as I did with both the artist name and CD name attributes. The question of which form to use has been the subject of much debate among XML developers. However, the general consensus is to use elements whenever the data item might later be broken down into additional elements, such as splitting the artist name into first name and last name, or dividing a single data element containing a comma-separated list of backup artist names into a list of elements. An additional consideration is whether you want to allow the XML processor to ignore insignificant whitespace, as it would do for attributes, but not for elements. You likely noticed that, unlike the SQL result set, XML can show the hierarchy of the data. In this case, the list of CDs recorded by each artist is nested within the information about the artist. I have indented the XML statements to make the nesting more obvious. And while indentation of nested tags is a best practice, it is not significant because whitespace between tags is ignored when the XML is processed. XML coding can be quite tedious. Fortunately, there are tools available to convert between XML and plain text, and SQL/XML functions (covered later in this chapter) to convert relational database (SQL) data into XML. For a time, specialized databases for storing and retrieving XML were gaining popularity, but the major relational database vendors added features to permit native XML to be stored directly in their databases. At the same time, the SQL standard was expanded to include provisions for XML data, as I discuss in the remainder of this chapter.
18:
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