Monday, October 23, 2006

The topography of XML

Which are the stuff of dreams -- XML documents or relational databases?

Freud might say that a relational database is polymorphous perverse. That's because through the miracle of foreign keys the same table can have many parents. Imagine that.

Actually it is hard to imagine the life of rows because they can appear in many places at once. That is, the same row might be involved in several relationships. Are you getting the perversity of all this?

In XML, elements have elements, and elements have attributes.

I can hear the train of thought now. XML is hierarchical whereas in a relational database there are more degrees of freedom.

Freedom and perversity.

When have I heard this story before.

Is XML then the representation of conservatives?

Am I a conservative who chooses XML?

And do relational database administrators really have a proclivity to sleep around?

Tune in next week for an entirely new episode of "XML Matters" only on Wolf TV...

Actually there are two things you have to know about the flavor of hierarchy that comes in XML. They are cardinality and order.

Cardinality is about the number of elements. Order is about their position. The calculus -- say integration -- uses number and order to make sequence. Sequence is like the card deck our ancestors once flipped to produce animation. Sequence is a movie. Sequence is visualization.

I'd like to see a relational database put sequence in its pipe and smoke it. It is not possible according to Codd and Date who are two really big relational database fish.

On the other hand, shaping, shapes, movement and maybe, as we shall see, even morphing and cloning are second nature with XML.

Finegan. Begin again.

Did you know that Finegan's Wake is an XML document?


Sunday, October 22, 2006

The faces of a solution

How does one traverse the solution space when it comes to building a platform for data collection/data dissemination?

How does one go about "surfacing" a solution?

How many surfaces does a solution have?

What is the connection of these surfaces?

Is there a glide that takes us from surface to surface?

Do we follow that glide and construct a family of surfaces? Or do surfaces fall away as new surfaces pop us, kind of like a comet?

Maybe in the one case -- call it the product line model -- we are building a house. Maybe in the other case -- call it the comet model -- we are building momentum.

Everything is legacy after the first moment.

Comets solve the problem of legacy and over-extension which creates white elephants or, again, too much baggage with a vanishing tail.

In the comet model every surface has a sunset. The sunset is when noone comes to the surface and sticks to it like flies. That's when the surface goes into the tail of the comet and dies.

Fly. Die.

In any event what fuels a surface surfacing and any story a set of surfaces make are engines.

I want to talk about engines before hell freezes over.

Maybe we will talk if there is a tomorrow.