Oracle, IBM team on XQuery Java specification

In a rare act of cooperation, Oracle Corp. and IBM Corp. have submitted a joint request for a new specification that will define how Java applications query databases using a proposed language called XQuery.

Most applications today query databases using the widely used Structured Query Language, or SQL. XQuery, which is being developed at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), should provide a standard way for querying data stored in the emerging XML (Extensible Markup Language) format.

The Java specification request, number 225, was submitted jointly to the Java Community Process (JCP) by Oracle and IBM and is supported by BEA Systems Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc., Sybase Inc., DataDirect Technologies and X-Hive Corp. It can be viewed at the JCP Web site at

“This specification will define a set of interfaces and classes that enable an application to submit XQuery queries to an XML data source and process the results of these queries,” the request reads in part.

Oracle and IBM are staunch rivals in the database market and spend much of their time insulting each other’s products. They apparently saw a need to cooperate on a specification that could be important in furthering the use of XML and Java, technologies backed by both companies.

Representatives from the two companies were not available for comment early Tuesday. They were due to announce the proposed specification later Tuesday, according to an Oracle spokesperson.

Database rival Microsoft has also said it plans to support XQuery. It is not a Java supporter, however, and appears not to be involved with Java request 225.

The progress of the specification depends in part on the progress of XQuery 1.0, which is expected to be finalized at the end of this year or early next. The Java specification must also go through at least two drafting stages and a period of public comment, meaning it’s unlikely to be completed before late next year.

Oracle and IBM have divided responsibilities for the specification as follows, according to information on the JCP Web site: They will jointly deliver the specification, Oracle will deliver the reference implementation, and IBM will deliver a kit that tests for compatibility. The reference implementation and the compatibility kit will be available as standalone products on a royalty-free basis.