Friday, June 24, 2011

Enterprise 2.0 conference impressions: XQuery’s ongoing existential crisis

I had several interesting discussions with vendors in the #e2conf exhibit hall earlier this week.  XQuery was one of the topics about which I asked several collaboration and/or content-focused vendor representatives, including some of the uber-vendors most likely to be disrupted by XQuery, if XQuery is broadly successful and if they don’t effectively leverage it in their own products/services. 

The responses: a lot of blank stares (mostly bewilderment, as if I had, e.g., asked something ridiculous, such as when they are going to unveil native client applications for the HP TouchPad or RIM PlayBook…) and one suggestion, from the CTO of one of the leading social/collaboration start-ups, that perhaps XPath will suffice.  (There was also a bit of the trendy “XML is dead/JSON is the future” meme, in some of the discussions and presentations.)

This is a big information management bummer, imho, as I believe XQuery has significant potential to advance the overall industry agenda for XML information management, but the responses were consistent with other impressions I’ve collected over the last few years, in other vendor discussions. 

How I think this is all likely to play out: information architects and application developers using native XQuery products such as MarkLogic Server and open source XQuery engines such as eXist are going to be far more productive than people relying on some-assembly-required alternative approaches, and eventually that dynamic will lead the uber-players to place more emphasis on XQuery.  It may take a few years, however, and, by that time, the vendors/architects/others who placed an early bet on XQuery will have a substantial lead.

See this post for more details about my XQuery perspective.

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