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Oracle Web Applications: PL/SQL Developer's Intro by Andrew Odewahn

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XML and iFS

Oracle8i’s Internet File System (iFS) has a built-in XML parser you can use to store XML documents directly in the database. As more and more vendors (including Microsoft, a big proponent of the XML standard) “XML-enable” their products, the iFS parser will become more and more useful. Widespread adoption of the XML format, as opposed to proprietary formats, will help alleviate the common, frustrating, and usually contentious problem of importing data from end user productivity tools into relational databases.

For instance, take spreadsheets. There is no denying the fact that these wonderful tools can help even the most unsophisticated (at least in terms of computer experience) user perform meaningful and important tasks. An analyst might use a spreadsheet to solve a finance problem, a manager might use one to schedule the phases of a project, and an accountant might use one to do almost anything. Some companies even use spreadsheets to create client invoices. Because they are easy to use and widely available, spreadsheets have become primary business tools, perhaps second only to word processors. While spreadsheets have many benefits, however, they have also created difficult information management problems.

For example, companies have spent millions of dollars on relational databases only to see them circumvented by spreadsheets. End users complain, sometimes quite correctly, that systems developed by IS are too complex or time consuming. Consequently, users simply ...

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