In a follow-up to last week's commentary about the new Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Web Services Toolkit, I talked with Tom Rizzo, group product manager of Platform and Infrastructure for SQL Server, about the toolkit's XML for SQL Server (SQLXML) Managed Classes.

Microsoft press releases about the toolkit trumpet the inclusion of these new SQLXML Managed Classes. To explore what impact these new SQLXML Managed Classes would have on back-end database professionals, I bounced a few questions off the resident expert.

What are the new SQLXML Managed Classes?

According to Rizzo, the new SQLXML classes consist of SQLXmlCommand Object, SQLXmlParameter Object, and SQLXmlAdapter Object. The Microsoft .NET Framework includes a native SQL Server .NET Data Provider. However, this data provider can handle only traditional SQL queries such as SELECT * FROM TABLE. You can't use the built-in classes to execute XML templates or server-side XPath queries against SQL Server. The SQLXML Managed Classes add these capabilities to the .NET Framework. Developers who prefer to use XPath's query and formatting syntaxes can now leverage their knowledge of these technologies against SQL Server 2000 and stay in the managed-code environment that .NET provides. These enhancements demonstrate the tight integration between SQL Server and Visual Studio .NET.

What do back-end DBAs need to know about the SQLXML Managed Classes. For example, do the classes add anything to the database or to SQL Server itself?

Rizzo says the SQLXML Managed Classes don't directly affect DBAs. However, developers must make sure that the .NET Framework and the Web Services Toolkit are installed on the machines on which the code runs.

What are the key benefits of the new SQLXML Managed Classes?

Rizzo says these classes combine the power of SQL Server 2000's XML support with the rich data-access and XML support that the .NET Framework provides. Developers can quickly and easily build applications against SQL Server by using the development tools they're familiar with and at the same time have a choice of data-access technologies. Rizzo noted that for the traditional SQL Server developer, the SQL Server .NET Data Provider will be the technology of choice to perform traditional SQL Server queries. However, now XML developers can leverage the rich XPath query support included with the SQLXML classes to build SQL-based applications.

For more information about the new SQLXML Managed Classes, you can read "Introduction to SQLXML Managed Classes," a white paper in the Web Services Toolkit. The toolkit is available from the Microsoft Web site.