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" An XML document is a database only in the strictest sense of the term. In many ways, this makes it no different from any other file -- after all, all files contain data of some sort. For example, it is self-describing (the markup describes the structure and type names of the data, although not the semantics), it is portable (Unicode), and it can describe data in tree or graph structures. For example, it is verbose and access to the data is slow due to parsing and text conversion.A more useful question to ask is whether XML and its surrounding technologies constitute a "database" in the looser sense of the term -- that is, a database management system (DBMS).On the other hand, suppose you have a Web site built from a number of prose-oriented XML documents.Not only do you want to manage the site, you would like to provide a way for users to search its contents.The answer to this question is, "Sort of." On the plus side, XML provides many of the things found in databases: storage (XML documents), schemas (DTDs, XML Schemas, RELAX NG, and so on), query languages (XQuery, XPath, XQL, XML-QL, QUILT, etc.), programming interfaces (SAX, DOM, JDOM), and so on.
In addition, XML allows you to have nested entries, something that is harder to do in comma-delimited files.The answers to these questions will strongly influence your choice of database and middleware (if any), as well as how you use that database.For example, suppose you have an e-commerce application that uses XML as a data transport.It is a good bet that your data has a highly regular structure and is used by non-XML applications.Furthermore, things like entities and the encodings used by XML documents probably aren't important to you -- after all, you are interested in the data, not how it is stored in an XML document.