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Beginning SQL Server 2005 XML Programming

Many applications also require other pieces of information that typically reside in a database. For example, consider an application that allows a user to personalize the look and feel of an application. It is not uncommon to store the preferences of the user against the user record in the database. XML lends itself well to storing such unstructured information to cope with an ever expanding list of user preferences.

When we store this kind of semi-structured or unstructured information as XML in the database, it is not always feasible to extract the content to the application tier and then process the XML using XML parsers. If the database platform is able to provide native XML processing capabilities then that is a massive advantage. In that way we can also take advantage of other database capabilities such as query optimization, indexing, backups and, most importantly of all, interoperability with relational data.

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This article will provide:. SQL Server provided both server-side and client-side XML support and it is useful to briefly review these capabilities in order to fully appreciate how SQL Server extends and improves them. We will focus on the server-side capabilities in this article, since XML management in the database is a relatively new phenomenon. When specified, the results of a query are returned as an XML document. Returns query results in a simple, nested XML tree. The columns are mapped to the appropriate element attributes.

Specifies the shape of the resulting XML tree explicitly. Using this mode, queries must be written in a particular way so that additional information about the nesting is specified.

Microsoft SQl Server Programming for Dummies

Specifies that the columns are returned as sub-elements to the table element. Otherwise, they are mapped as attributes. Note that we are using the pubs sample database that is shipped with SQL Server We can also specify the mapping information between the XML document and the relational rowset that is generated. The nodes are processed based on the rowset schema declaration provided after the WITH clause. The output of the above command is as follows:. Although SQL Server provides quite extensive XML support, as described, the major drawback is that it is not native, and also does not provide all of the features that traditional XML processing requires.

Some of the limitations are:. However, in spite of these limitations, the XML features of SQL Server are extensively used and there are many enterprise applications that actively depend on it. In this article, we will focus on the basics of the new XML data type. Internally, the XML data type is stored in a proprietary binary format. Having defined an XML variable or column, we can store information in it via the following methods:. Note that string content is implicitly converted to the XML type. You can also explicitly convert the string to XML as shown:. In each example, we then select this XML content. Notice that the XML content is hyperlinked and if you click this link, a new window opens and shows the entire XML document. This is a great improvement over SQL Server Query Analyzer, which would show the results of XML queries as a single line of output and also truncate the results if the result size is greater than bytes.

We can insert regular string content into the feedXML column of our rssFeeds table using the following method:. The output of the above command is as follows only partial results are shown. To see the full results, you need to click on the hyperlink in Management Studio :. Executing the above command produces the following output again, only partial results are shown :.

The following example shows how to bulkload our xmlDoc variable using this technique:. The RSS. It is usually recommended to associate schemas to XML content in SQL Server, since query optimization can use the information and also it provides better operational semantics. For example, we can perform arithmetic operations on numbers, but not strings. If no schema is attached to an XML, then all values are considered to be strings. MSDN provides further information about schemas and their maintenance. Using the tool of your choice, create the following schema definition:.

The following script loads our XML schema into the database. In the following code, we type an XML variable to the MyContacts schema and then assign both valid and invalid content to the XML by invalid, we mean that the content does not adhere to the schema :. Note how we have declared the XML variable.

SQL Server 2005 Managment Studio Express - MS SQL Server

The schema reference is specified in parentheses after the variable. You should also receive the following error message I have wrapped the error message to make it readable :. As well as offering advanced IntelliSense-style code completion, full formatting options, object renaming, and other productivity features, SQL Prompt also offers fast and comprehensive code analysis as you type.

Try it free. Fortnightly newsletters help sharpen your skills and keep you ahead, with articles, ebooks and opinion to keep you informed. You can reach him at: srisamp gmail. View all articles by Srinivas Sampath. Good Work! But the broken images are really really needs to be fixed. Thanks for the stuff. The file specified is Unicode. Article out of the top draw!! Keep it up clear and simple overview supported with good examples.