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Next-Generation Object Database Standardization?

by Roberto V. Zicari on October 5, 2007

I will be shortly publish in ODBMS.ORG a white paper on Next-Generation Object Database Standardization written by the OMG`s Object Database Technology Working Group.

Here is the abstract of the White Paper:

“Following the dissolution of the Object Data Management Group (ODMG) in 2001, standardization efforts for object databases languished. What has emerged since is a fractured marketplace where each vendor has developed a unique set of programming interfaces and features and no truly portable way of interacting with an object database exists. In 2005, the OMG’s Object Database Technology Working Group was formed as the successor to the ODMG, and our first effort has been to create the object equivalent of the relational calculus. We believe that the foundation for this “object calculus” can be found in the research done by Prof. Kazimierz Subieta and his students at the Polish-Japanese Institute of Information Technology. We have prepared this white paper to serve as an introduction to Prof. Subieta’s “stack-based architecture” (SBA) and to define the OMG version of it. The definitions and semantics of SBA will, we believe, allow the construction of a complete and correct object model that supports a powerful object query language as well as a complete and correct set of equivalent native programming language bindings. ”

What is the goal of this initiative?

Quoting the white paper: “What we would like to have in the end is a new standard for object databases that is based on a sound theoretical framework with precise and complete definitions. Prof. Subieta’s work is a great starting place because it shows what must be available in an object store in order to support an advanced query language. What we imagine is a new standard which could be fashioned after the ODMG 3.0 specification, something like this:

OMG “Next Generation” Object Database Standard (“ODMG 4.0”)
Chapter 1 – Introductory material
Chapter 2 – New object model based on the abstract store model and an abstract stack-based object query language (AOQL), includes definitions and detailed semantics of all optional features to be standardized
Chapter 3 – XML/XSD specification for data import/export as replacement for “ODL”, provided for all conformance levels
Chapter 4 – Full syntax of abstract query language, provided for all conformance levels
Chapter 5, 6, … – Programming language APIs for specific language bindings

Our new specification would not have to be done in this way, but such an organization would be familiar to those who have used ODMG 3.0 in the past. Of prime importance would be clear definitions and explicit semantics (especially in chapter 2), even including the use of state diagrams or Petri nets as needed to convey the semantics of how certain features are supposed to work in conformant products.

Looking forward, the plan is (assuming there is sufficient vendor interest) for the ODBTWG to prepare (and then issue from its parent task force) one or more RFPs that together will establish the full and complete definitions of the abstract query language (AOQL) and the semantics of the abstract store models, as well as, the semantics and behaviors of optional features (compliance points). This will be the Platform Independent Model (PIM) for a conformant object database. When the PIM is defined, it will serve as the basis for a series of RFPs to develop specifications for concrete implementations of the “Next Generation Object Database” in Java, C++, etc., i.e., Platform Specific Models (PSMs).”

It will be interesting to see if this initiative takes off and if sufficient vendors support it.
I will be writing about it in my next posts.

Roberto V. Zicari

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