The latest version of Oracle's flagship database -- Oracle Database 11g -- includes a slew of new XML-related features and enhancements, an Oracle executive said.
The main XML upgrades in Database 11g focus on XML DB, Oracle's XML storage and retrieval technology. They include a new binary XML data type, a new XML index and enhanced support for XQuery and other emerging standards, said Willie Hardie, Oracle vice president of database product marketing. Database 11g is currently in the beta testing phase and expected to be released commercially within the next year.
Oracle's database management system (DBMS) has long offered native XML support, meaning that XML data can be stored within the system itself in object-relational or character large object (CLOB) formats. Database 11g expands on this feature by adding the ability to store XML as a binary data type, Hardie said.
"What we're doing with 11g is giving customers more options in terms of how they want to store the data," he said.
Hardie said some of the benefits of native XML support include greater security and the ability to more quickly access the XML data.
"At the end of the day […] an end user doesn't really care too much about where that data sits," he said. "The importance is in how quickly they can get at that data."
On the standards front, Database 11g offers greater support for XQuery, a proposed standard that allows users to extract information from an XML file; the Content Repository API for Java Technology (JSR 170); and SQL XML, which defines a standardized mechanism for using SQL and XML together.
Database 11g also offers "duality" between SQL and XML, meaning that users have the ability to embed XML statements within PL/SQL and vice versa, Hardie said.
Meanwhile, Database 11g developers will have the choice of implementing schema-based or non-schema-based XML definitions, depending on the level of flexibility the application they're working on requires, he said.
"[With a] schema-based-type application, the application needs to know the structure of that piece of XML," he said. "Other times you might not want to know that and you'll store it in a non-schema-based format."
More Database 11g details
Oracle kicked off the Database 11g beta program during its annual OpenWorld conference in October, saying the beta version offers 482 new features designed to address a wide range of database issues.
Database 11g emphasizes greater scalability, offers data compression capabilities and can handle parallel upgrades, Chuck Rozwat, Oracle vice president of server technologies, told the OpenWorld crowd. The compression technology reduces the amount of storage required for data sets by as much as two-thirds, according to Oracle.
The beta database also allows for online application upgrades and includes Oracle's Flashback technology, which reduces the time it takes to recover from database outages.
Oracle says the Database 11g beta testing program is currently open to all existing Oracle Database customers.