II.3.2. Enhanced Data Types

SQL Server 2008 offers many new types of data storage options. Although you might not be familiar with these, they can be very helpful when constructing a database-driven application. We look at each of them in more detail.

II.3.2.1. XML

You've been able to use SQL Server to hold this type of data for some time. However, it's only in the recent past that the native database capabilities have reached the maturity necessary to take full advantage of this powerful method of storing information. Providing an in-depth explanation of XML is beyond the scope of this book; however, it's a good idea to get some understanding of what you can accomplish with this exciting technology.

Specified in the late 1990s, XML has mushroomed into a very popular method for storing and working with information. It provides a structured, text-based approach to organizing data. Unlike many earlier file formats and data structures that were often proprietary, closed, and required special software, you can use any text editor or word processor to create and edit XML information. Today, many modern applications and tools support XML as well, including packages like Microsoft Office and, of course, SQL Server.

XML advantages

When compared with alternative means of representing and interchanging information, XML offers some compelling benefits, including:

  • Standards-based: The XML standard was created and is maintained under the auspices of the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C). Additionally, ...

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