Among several pieces of email that arrived in my inbox yesterday, the one from Peter P Jones caught my attention. He posted several links to articles on managing unstructured information. One of them was about a project called Virtual XML Garden. With Virtual XML garden, you can write scripts in XPath or XQuery and access non-XML data as if it were XML. This is done by “writing thin, on-demand adapters for each format into a generic abstract XML interface corresponding to the XML Infoset as well as the forthcoming XPath and XQuery Data Model”. This will allow a wide variety of XML tools to access the data without converting it to XML. The Virtual XML Garden project talks about several prototype adopters.
AJAX clients are already gaining popularity as the preferred user interface to interactive web applications. Combining AJAX with Virtual XML may bring about some very interesting applications. Imagine having a Google Map style interactivity on your relational data!