W3C XQuery 1.0 and XSLT 2.0 Become Standards: Tools to Query, Transform, and Access XML and Relational Data

Newest Open Web Standards Already Widely Supported in Industry

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http://www.w3.org/ -- 23 January 2007 -- Based on widespread implementation experience and extensive feedback from users and vendors, W3C has published eight new standards in the XML Family to support the ability to query, transform, and access XML data and documents. The primary specifications are XQuery 1.0: An XML Query Language, XSL Transformations (XSLT) 2.0, and XML Path Language (XPath) 2.0; see the full list below.

These new Web Standards will play a significant role in enterprise computing by connecting databases with the Web. XQuery allows data mining of everything from memos and Web service messages to multi-terabyte relational databases. XSLT 2.0 adds significant new functionality to the already widely deployed XSLT 1.0, which enables the transformation and styled presentation of XML documents. Both specifications rely on XPath 2.0, also significantly enriched from its previous version.

W3C's XSL Working Group and XML Query Working Group, who created these specifications, have addressed thousands of comments from implementers and the interested public to ensure that the specifications meet the needs of diverse communities.

XML Query 1.0 Joins Database and Document Worlds

XML Query (XQuery) describes a database query language for XML data.

"XQuery will serve as a unifying interface for access to XML data, much as SQL has done for relational data," said Don Chamberlin of IBM Almaden Research Center, co-inventor of the original SQL Query language and one of the co-editors of XQuery 1.0. "Since virtually any kind of information can be represented using XML, I expect XQuery to play a central role in unifying information from many different sources. Companies across a wide range of industries can use XQuery to pull together structured and semi-structured information for processing in a unified way."

The XML Query Working Group catalogued over forty implementations of XQuery and reported on how fourteen of them satisfy a test suite consisting of more than 14,000 test cases, demonstrating unprecedented levels of interoperability. XML Query is already available in products from all of the major relational database vendors as well as in XML-native database systems, middleware, XML editing systems and numerous open source products. W3C Member organizations have also announced implementations of XQuery or plans for implementations.

"The XQuery Working Group engaged in exhaustive review and collaborative work, both with other W3C Working Groups and with the developer community," explained Jim Melton of Oracle, XML Query Working Group co-chair and co-editor of two of the standards published today. "Over 1,000 comments from developers helped ensure a resilient and implementable set of database technologies."

"These specifications provide a much needed bridge between two worlds: documents with complex but irregular internal structure on the one hand and databases and simple data with atomic values on the other," said W3C's Michael Sperberg-McQueen, one of the editors of the original XML 1.0 specification.

Rich XSLT, XPath 2.0 Feature Set Based on Seven Years of Experience

XSLT 1.0, published in 1999, is widely deployed on Web servers and in browsers and is an important part of today's business and engineering infrastructure. Years of experience with the language have culminated in an impressive list of new features in XSLT 2.0 and XPath 2.0, including a greatly enlarged library of functions, new facilities for grouping and aggregation, and more powerful text processing using regular expressions.

"This is a red-letter day for XSLT users," said Michael Kay, editor of the XSLT 2.0 specification, "both for those who have been waiting patiently for this Recommendation to appear before they could use the new features, and for those who have taken a gamble by deploying the new technology before its final stamp of approval. Our biggest achievement, in my view, has been to deliver a huge step forward in functionality and developer productivity, while also retaining a very high level of backwards compatibility, thereby keeping transition costs to the minimum."

XSLT 2.0 can optionally use XML Schema, enabling improved detection of errors both at compile time and at run-time, and thus provides the robustness needed in enterprise applications. Implementations of the new specification have been available since 2002, maturing in parallel with the specification. With over 150,000 downloads of various implementations, there is a wealth of experience demonstrating the benefits of the new features. Indeed, many organizations, from publishing houses to investment banks, are already using XSLT 2.0 in their operational systems.

The eight Recommendations published today that together increase the power of the XML family are:

  1. XML Path Language (XPath) 2.0
  2. XSL Transformations (XSLT) Version 2.0
  3. XQuery 1.0: An XML Query Language
  4. XML Syntax for XQuery 1.0 (XQueryX)
  5. XQuery 1.0 and XPath 2.0 Data Model (XDM)
  6. XQuery 1.0 and XPath 2.0 Functions and Operators
  7. XQuery 1.0 and XPath 2.0 Formal Semantics
  8. XSLT 2.0 and XQuery 1.0 Serialization

About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. Over 400 organizations are Members of the Consortium. W3C is jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France and Keio University in Japan,and has additional Offices worldwide. For more information see http://www.w3.org/