DataDirect has launched a set of drivers for connecting Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) applications to data in the major relational databases. At the launch, the product is being bundled with a tool to dynamically translate between relational databases and XML in Java applications. The company hinted strongly that a similar tool for Microsoft's .Net architecture is on its way. "DataDirect Connect JDBC 3.0 is the first product to comply with the new JDBC 3.0 specification," said Brian Reed, vice president of business development at DataDirect Technologies. JDBC was finally standardised a few weeks ago, from a draft published a year ago. DataDirect's product includes jXTransformer, which is a free tool to translate data between XML and relational databases. Connect JDBC 3.0 is needed, said Reed, "because XML is currently like the early days of SQL. The standard is published, but database vendors are implementing it differently." Although XML documents are unambiguous, different database vendors find different ways to get the data in and out of them. It competes with the database vendors' own tools, which tend to operate on one database only, he said. "With jXTransformer you don't have to know if your database supports XML, or how it supports it," said Reed. He is giving this tool away to encourage "tyre-kickers" to turn into users. "You can do it for real now," he said. Despite DataDirect's heavy involvement with Java tools, he welcomes the arrival of Microsoft .Net. "We love 'em both," he said. "It's great. We have this role -- we provide the components." There will be no winner, he said. Large companies are more likely to use Java, smaller companies will use .Net and there will be a big overlap in the middle. Reed agreed that there would be a need for a native .Net tool to link to databases, and that it would make a lot of sense for DataDirect to make tools specifically for .Net. "A .Net tool would be highly logical given our track record," said Reed. "We helped make SQL a standard back in 1990, and worked with Microsoft on ODBC, then Sun approached us to help write the original JDBC specification. .Net is just the next one on the list." DataDirect has been involved in the area of connecting software together for 15 years or more, mostly as part of other companies, and most recently within Merant, the company formed by the merger of Intersolv and Microfocus. became independent last year, and is now 200-people strong.