Oracle Exec Lobbies For 'Zorba' Open-Source XQuery Engine

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What's next on the open-source stack agenda? It could be an open-source XQuery engine, if Oracle's Roger Bamford has his way.

Bamford, the principal architect for Oracle Server technologies and sometimes known as the father of Real Application Clusters (RAC), said what the world needs is a free and open XQuery engine. To that end, he has launched the FLWOR Foundation, with FLWOR standing for "For-Let-Where-Order-Return."

XQuery is the proposed standard for querying and interacting with data stored in XML form. XML, or Extensible Markup Language, has become the lingua franca for storing nonrelational data in databases and other repositories.

Speaking at the XML 2006 conference in Boston on Tuesday, Bamford lobbied the crowd for support. The charter of the FLWOR Foundation is to build a free engine, based on C++, that "will run on anything with a CPU and RAM." And it must be "configurable down to a few hundred K, be embeddable in browsers, servers and mobile devices," he noted.

There would be a version of the engine, dubbed Zorba, that plugs into Apache Web servers running on the free Berkeley database, a combo that would supply virtually any users with an "instant, complete XQuery/XML HTTP and Web Services server," Bamford said.

The advantage of a Zorba/Apache/Berkeley database stack would be that since the code is all the same, applications are totally transportable across platforms without changes, according to Bamford. Zorba also would support lots of language extensions, scripting and windowing, he added.

Bamford also plugged the XML Application Platform (XAP), now under development by an Oracle Special Projects Group, and he promised that a prototype will come out soon.

A platform for hosted development of applications using XML infrastructure, XAP will include piece-parts such as a user interface, an XQuery-based scripting language and server-side XML data management. Bamford said it also will include a comprehensive application metadata model and rule-based flows.

"Everything will be a document. There will be versions, views and customization allowed," he said.

The overall goal is to enable a Web of applications rather than a Web of content, Bamford said. Though Oracle backs the effort, he maintained that the finished XAP would be a free, open specification. Part of the platform would be a universal editor and debugger for documents and would run in client/server mode atop the Zorba engine.

This week's XML 2006 conference, sponsored by IDEAlliance, marks the 10th anniversary of the first work on the now-ubiquitous XML language. Several of the original working group members, including Jon Bozak, spoke at the event.

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