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NOTE: Although the information discussed in this paper is (mostly) up-to-date, the idea that the world of XML and databases can be seen through the data-centric/document-centric divide is somewhat dated.

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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.

For a more modern look at the difference between XML-enabled and native XML databases, see chapter 1 of XML for DB2 Information Integration.

Before we start talking about XML and databases, we need to answer a question that occurs to many people: "Is XML a database?

Your documents are likely to have a less regular structure and things such as entity usage are probably important to you because they are a fundamental part of how your documents are structured.

In this case, you might want a product like a native XML database or a content management system.

(Historical footnote: I first heard the terms data-centric and document-centric on the xml-dev mailing list.

I don't know who coined them, but I've found messages from 1997 using the term document-centric and messages from 1998 using both terms.) Data-centric documents are documents that use XML as a data transport.

However, it was always somewhat unrealistic, as many XML documents are not strictly data-centric or document-centric, but somewhere in between.

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