SQL Server 'Yukon' to get XML data type

Microsoft at its Professional Developers Conference 2003 (PDC) in Los Angeles on Tuesday discussed intentions to add an Extensible Markup Language (XML) data type to its SQL Server database, with the Yukon release of the product planned for late 2004.

Plans for integration of the database with Microsoft's Common Language Runtime (CLR) were also featured.

XML plans involve letting developers treat XML and relational data alike, said Stan Sorensen, director of product management for SQL Server at Microsoft, in an interview on Monday.

"The way that we're going to enable that is by creating a native XML data type," Sorensen said.

Queries can be run on XML data just as they could on relational data, he said. An example of a query would be to retrieve news articles written by a specific author and attaching an XML schema to the query, enabling retrieval specifically of deeper, analytical articles.

"By creating an XML data type, we're going to enable that data to fit into that rows-and-columns format" common in relational databases, he said. Support of the XQuery language in Yukon provides for a query mechanism, said Sorensen.

Including the CLR in the database will enable developers to write database applications using a language other than the native Transact-SQL language featured in SQL Server, Sorensen said.

"It's all about developer productivity in Yukon," Sorensen said. By running the CLR engine inside Yukon, developers can write database applications in languages such as C# or Visual Basic. Third parties are expected to write drivers that enable applications to be developed in additional languages, said Sorensen, who added that he would expect such a driver for the rival Java language.

The CLR enables translation of code into a common language to be executed by the CLR engine. "What's good about that is language choice for developers," Sorensen said.

Also to be highlighted in Yukon is more integration with the Visual Studio toolset and the ability to write a Web service in Yukon. Microsoft Reporting Services enable this functionality now, but this ability will be increased in Yukon by writing a lot of the database in "managed code," Microsoft's term for code that features common and consistent object and security models as well as a common and consistent set of APIs, Sorensen said. Managed code is offered via the company's .Net Framework.

The Service Broker planned for Yukon will enable more inter-process communications between database components, Sorensen said.

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