Chapter 11 — SQL Server XML frequently asked questions

A few weeks ago I picked up a copy of SQL Server Deep Dives, written by a number of SQL Server MVP’s.  These MVP’s come with expertise from across the full spectrum of SQL Server.  Each selecting the chapters that they worked on based on their depth of knowledge.  Because of the expertise behind the book, purchasing it became an obvious choice. 

Not knowing where to start in the book, and having decided to review a chapter, I chose to start with Chapter 11 – “SQL Server XML Frequently Asked Questions”.   Hopefully, this Chapter Review, and the others on this blog will help you see the value in both this book, and in the MVP Community. 

“SQL Server XML Frequently Asked Questions,” is one of two chapters written by Michael Cole (blog).  He’s a SQL Server MVP, and a consultant based out of New York.  The other chapter written by Michael, is a bit of a predecessor to this topic, in that it discusses an Introduction to XQuery; which uses XML.

XML isn’t exactly a new technology, but it’s still new enough to scare a lot of people.  That fear is usually driven by not knowing what you don’t know.   What Michael’s done in this chapter, is outlined some of those questions, and then provided the necessary depth to begin to fit the pieces together. 

Some questions answered in this chapter are:

  • What is well-formed XML?
  • What effect does encoding have on XML?
  • What is the namespace?
  • What is the prolog? 

Some of these things I’d heard about and poked around for an answer to in the past.  A good example of this is the namespace.  This was something I’d found defined in a number of other places in a way that usually left me feeling as though I had added more confusion than clarity.  The definition here was clear and concise.  I’m left with enough information I could define it to someone else.

Other items are things that the average person wouldn’t know about, until faced with them.  Here, I am specifically thinking of prolog and encoding features.  Prior to reading the chapter, I had seen the prolog in XML documents I’d used.  I understood what it was used for, but similar to those plastic pieces on shoelaces, I didn’t grasp either the name or their use.  It is now clear that like the aglets on shoelaces, lacking the prolog can lead to an unraveling of your XML document.  In a like fashion, the effect of encoding on an XML document can lead to an unraveling.  This event, though, would likely be discovered through numerous bizarre and unexpected errors in how the XML document is processed. 

For the novice looking at beginning to learn and use XML, or even those that have poked around, this chapter is a boon of information and clarity.  The information included in this review only briefly covers what you can learn in this chapter.  Probably the best sense I think this chapter provides, is a foundation to the language of and surrounding XML, and a path to become comfortable and familiar with its use.

Jason Strate, Digineer Inc, is a database architect and administrator with over twelve years of experience. He is currently a Microsoft MVP for SQL Server.  His experience includes design and implementation of both OLTP and OLAP solutions as well as assessment and implementation of SQL Server environments for best practices, performance, and high availability solutions.


2 Responses to “Chapter 11 — SQL Server XML frequently asked questions”

  1. 1 Jonathan
    April 22, 2010 at 7:51 am

    I have this book and am reading it from front to back although that isnt necessary. Each writer’s chapters may have an order but each set of chapters stand alone in their own right. I am looking forward to the XML chapters now as I have in the past dipped my toe in the XML water and not had a fun time.

    Thanks for the review.

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