Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Microsoft makes dramatic enhancements to its XML support 

Microsoft has made the XML standard an integral part of virtually every aspect of its vast computing infrastructure. This includes everything from the lowest level APIs of the Longhorn Operating System, to the graphics system, to Office document formats to database access and workflow and integration strategies. But MS has increasingly gone its own way in how XML is processed. In its new XML support enhancements it has moved well beyond the DOM and SAX models that the rest of the world is using and XML started with. While the rest of the world is still trying to play catch-up to the XML pull parsing that MS is using to do SAX like processing, MS has now officially deprecated the use of DOM processing and is enhancing its XPath XMLNavigator technology to include update streams, that make the awkward DOM processing no longer necessary. It is also putting a lot of effort into integrating XML with traditional table views of data. Reporting Services is a good example of how through the increased use of XML in the background, users have to do less XML processing, but can instead use GUI tools where the actual XML is hidden behind the scenes. The same is true of the new InfoPath Office Support. I will try and talk more about this later. XML processing in all its tools is also much faster. One of the weak areas of MS XML processing has been its XSLT support. In the new Visual Studio the speed has been increased 400%. The editor has also been significantly enhanced and debugging has been added. It was all very impressive. The XQuery Integration is also very strong, with XQuery being capable of being used both within application programs against in memory documents and as a database query language.

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