Although Microsoft introduced the XML data type in SQL Server 2005, widespread use of the new data type has been slow to catch on. Carlo Innocenti, XML Technologies Program Manager at DataDirect Technologies, speculates that the main reason for the slow adoption is simply that most users have been used to storing data in other types. It still might be some time before people are willing to make the effort to convert data to the XML type; even though tools exist for converting data to XML format, the process can be cumbersome and time-consuming.

However, DataDirect has listened to its customers who asked for a solution to the conversion problem. Many of the company’s customers had particular problems converting EDI files to XML format. As Innocenti told our editors, “EDI is an interesting case because many companies create their own custom EDI applications. So talking about working with an EDI standard is nice…but a standard EDI file is often just a starting place from which many people make their own changes to meet specific business needs.” This week, DataDirect announced version 3.0 of its DataDirect XML Converters, components that you can embed directly in .NET or Java application. The components convert files of various formats to XML and back. The solution is unique in the converter arena because it’s not just a wizard, but a component that enables streaming of conversions to optimize performance. And because the components are serverless, they’re less invasive than competing “deep stack” solutions.

A specialized feature of the converters is the ability to convert messages by working within DataDirect’s Stylus Studio environment. You can create a custom conversion in Stylus Studio and save it as a template to reuse.

The converters also come at a relatively reasonable price, starting at about $1000.00, depending on a customer’s licensing needs. The combination of affordability and simplicity has already made the components popular with both midsized and enterprise customers.