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Unformatted text preview: Database-Inspired Search David Konopnicki and Oded Shmueli IBM Haifa Research Laboratory Haifa, Israel [email protected] Computer Science Department, Technion Haifa, Israel [email protected] Abstract “W3QL: A Query Language for the WWW”, published in 1995, presented a language with several distinctive features. Employing exist- ing indexes as access paths, it allowed the selection of documents using conditions on semi-structured documents and maintaining dynamic views of navigational queries. W3QL was capable of automatically filling out forms and navigating through them. Finally, in the SQL tradition, it was a declarative query lan- guage, that could be the subject of optimiza- tion. Ten years later, we examine some current trends in the domain of search, namely the emergence of system-level search services and of the semantic web. In this context, we ex- plore whether W3QL’s ideas are still relevant to help improve information search and re- trieval. We identify two main environments for searching, the enterprise and the web at large. Both environments could benefit from database-inspired integration language, and an execution system that implements it. 1 Introduction In 1995, we published “W3QL: A Query Language for the WWW”. The goal of the W3QL language was to automate search and retrieval tasks utilizing the (then) existing web search infrastructure, namely full-text search indexes such as Lycos 1 and Infoseek 2 . W3QL was realized in the context of W3QS, a system that Permission to copy without fee all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for direct commercial advantage, the VLDB copyright notice and the title of the publication and its date appear, and notice is given that copying is by permission of the Very Large Data Base Endowment. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires a fee and/or special permission from the Endowment. Proceedings of the 31st VLDB Conference, Trondheim, Norway, 2005 1 www.lycos.com 2 www.infoseek.com also provided various graphic and programming inter- faces. This paper retrospectively examines W3QL, some of the current trends affecting advanced searching (not all, given the limited scope of the paper), and outlines a view of a likely future. In that future, we argue, there is a place for a modernized version of W3QL, to inte- grate information from a myriad of sources, including objects, documents, semantic information, XML and other text data. W3QL had several features that were distinctive at the time. Employing the existing indexes as ac- cess paths, it allowed the selection of documents that are inherently semi-structured, specifying conditions on document features such as author and title, and maintaining continuous dynamic views of navigational queries. W3QL was capable of automatically filling out forms and navigating to the underlying resources “hiding” behind forms (the so-called “hidden web”)....
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