[XML4LIB] Databases or XML

Nathan Williams nathanw at nils.lib.il.us
Thu Feb 7 14:17:38 EST 2002

As a member library of the Illinois Digitization Archives and a digitization
grant recipient this year, I have a few comments.  One of the primary
reasons I see XML as being a necessary tool is that it gives control to the
record and its content, not the database.  I don't want to have a number of
records in a database that are dependent on the server they reside on and
its database software (i.e.,MS SQL Server).  Specifically, after we input
records into the IDA database I don't want to have to worry about needing a
SQL server (or a MySQL server, or a gdbm server, or whatever) when we want
to export our records.  I'd like to have XML records, with the apropriate
DTDs and be on my way.  I'd like to be able to have them portable to any
environment, or harvested by any environment, all the while being able to
edit them in a number of different environments without having to rely on a
propietary piece of software.  In short, I want records that live in the
world, not just in a database.  Obviously there's a lot more time in putting
together a good XML schema, but IMHO it's worth it everytime.  
Nathan Williams
North Suburban Library District

-----Original Message-----
From: A. Bullen [mailto:abullen at ameritech.net]
Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2002 12:19 PM
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: [XML4LIB] Databases or XML

Dear all,

At the urging of Roy Tennant, I am asking you all the same question that 
I asked him.

Please pardon a rather naive question. I am a database programmer; that 
is, I put library SQL/ODBC connected databases on Internet-accesible 
platforms and build Web interfaces to them using Perl and Java. I have, 
of course, heard a great deal about XML and the revolution in 
information presentation. My question to use is: why do I need to work 
in XML when I can do everything in a sense better by using a database? I 
can replace XSLT/DTDs etc. with server side includes that detect browser 
types, and present the screen to the client accordingly by having a 
series of if/then statements in my presentation code. In short, I can 
build dynamically presented pages 'til the cows come home. What am I 

I appreciate any comments or thoughts you might have on my dilemna.

Andrew Bullen
Illinois State Library

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